Home automation - flood detection and motorised valves
January 9, 2017 12:55 PM   Subscribe

I live in a flat and I am petrified at the idea that I may cause water damage to my neighbours (especially when I am not at home - which is a lot of the time these days). I am looking to put together a home automation system which detects water leaks and automatically turns off the domestic hot and cold water supply. I think I will have Fibaro water sensors, a Z-wave hub, and z-wave switches to control motorised valves and turn off the supply. Do you have any experience with or advice for such a setup?

I know that I will need a 'normally open' valve (because I want the water supply turned off when the sensors detect a leak) but I don't understand how the sensor commands the valve and how they all work together.

Any advice, equipment, or ideas greatly appreciated! Thanks.

PS. I live in the UK, if that matters at all.
posted by Parsnip to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've read good reviews about WaterCop, which is basically an off-the-shelf version of what you're trying to do.
posted by bondcliff at 1:09 PM on January 9, 2017

If you know you'll be away for a long time, just preemptively turn off the water; that's a lot more reliable than kludging together a servo-based system. The servos would only trigger if the sensors are tripped. What if your leak is in the wall?

The most likely place for a spontaneous catastrophic leak would be the braided metal flexible connectors used for sink and toilet hookups, and clothes/dish washer connections. Those are rubber hoses wrapped in the braided covering, and the rubber will fail eventually. You might want to do an audit of yours. I replace mine every 5 years or so.

But otherwise, I wouldn't fixate on this. A water leak is an inconvenience, but not a moral failing. Few people would take any precautions whatsoever. You would bear no culpability if a pipe burst (and might buy yourself more headaches if you tried to build this failsafe and doing so caused the leak!).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:48 PM on January 9, 2017

In the US one just gets renter's insurance, which usually has $500,000 of liability coverage for when you accidentally flood your neighbors. Then you don't worry about it unless it actually happens and you need to file a claim.

I also have washing machine hoses that are stainless steel (instead of rubber) with little valves that auto-shut when the flow exceeds normal speeds. This is a cheap $30 solution to a specific problem.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Buoy does exactly this. Available for pre-order.
posted by chevyvan at 4:09 PM on January 9, 2017

One of home fix-it shows here in the US had an example of a pan that is put under the water heater, plus a float switch that turns off the water if water collects in the pan. This would greatly limit damage, though might not prevent it completely.

Any really good solution is going to require a plumber, so you might as well choose one and ask what he recommends for your particular situation.

I don't agree with Admiral Haddock. Catastrophic failures (meaning sudden, large-scale leaks) of hot water heaters are far from rare.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:14 AM on January 10, 2017

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