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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Water sensors sensible where harsh winters threaten

Kristin Arrigo

You don’t have to be the Wicked Witch from “The Wizard of Oz” to know that water can destroy things. If you’ve ever dropped your cell phone in the toilet, you already know the perils of water.

What might save your home from the perils of water are water sensors. Sensors are nifty gadgets, and they come in all different types: for appliances, watering the lawn, for the faucet, to detect a flood and more. Appliances with a water sensor conserve water. Faucet water sensors detect even the smallest amounts of cyanide in your tap water.

During the winter months, when harsh weather makes a structure more vulnerable, you will want to be sure you have a water sensor that detects flooding.

Discovering that somewhere, something is leaking water is usually found while walking on carpet and wondering, why are my socks wet? Even then, you may think it’s just melted snow from the outdoors.

Let’s face it: Nobody walks around the house each day doing a moisture check. During the winter, you may even visit areas of your home like the basement less often, even if that means waiting longer to go down to there to wash clothes.

You will never be sure if you taped up the pipes well enough, or that water around the house isn’t just one rain or snowstorm away from creating a disaster.

Water sensors for flooding sound off a loud alarm. The best ones are extremely loud so you don’t mistake it for the television. The Gizmode says it’s the loudest, a good choice for basements and cabinets. When you go to place your alarm, think about areas that sometimes experience leaks or flooding during heavy rain and place one of the water alarms in a nearby spot. Some of these water alarms can be installed right into the carpet, so you won’t have to rely on the sock test. When they are put in the carpet, they will go off when moisture is present.

High humidity is supposedly not a trigger for these types of alarms, so you don’t have to worry about them being over-sensitive.

The choices of water sensors that will shut off water from the main water valve include the Floodstop from Gizmode. The Gizmode sounded like you could do-it-yourself pretty easily, however, a plumber best installs water alarms that involve shutting off a main valve. The Gizmode also makes water sensors that will alert you to slow leaks.

Having sensors in place will help support eco-friendly water conservation and curb an environmental disaster. The tricky thing about water is even though you’ve got it visibly cleaned up, water seeps into structures. The damage caused by water doesn’t take long to start the deterioration process and compromise structural strength.

Little puddles will cause weakness and erosion, and moisture left alone will cause mildew and mold. Mold and mildew can turn into black mold that contains mycotoxins, which are harmful to your health. The water will discolor your things and cause swelling. This will damage laminates and rot wood.

Everybody knows what a mess water from a leak can make, but if you catch it early enough, you can salvage and repair more and keep your indoor air cleaner.

Kristin Arrigo is an environmental writer and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ArrigoKristin. Only Better runs the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.