How an Automatic Water Shut-Off Valve Could Have Helped Me
Many people have water-leak stories, now there is a solution
By: Jason Abajian*, North America Water Sales Manager at Resideo
Winter arrived a bit earlier than usual here in the Upper Midwest, and the moment I saw the projected cold snap, my mind immediately went to the maintenance involved in preparing my home for a long winter in Traverse City, Mich., where our average snowfall is between 125 inches and 145 inches each year.
Questions like, ‘did I blow out my sprinkler lines so the water doesn’t freeze and crack the copper pipes and sprinkler heads?’ Or ‘is my boiler tuned up and ready for another heating season? I hate to leave my home unprotected.’ It’s my family’s sanctuary and a massive financial investment.
The force that can carve out the Grand Canyon can also carve out massive damage to your home. How can we protect our homes from this great force of nature? Knowledge and preparation are critical.
Water Leaks are on the Rise
Water makes up most of the human body and our earth, it’s more important than food to sustain life, and yet it is the largest menace for home insurance claims. Each year, about one in 60 homeowners files a water damage claim, accounting for 20% of all homeowner insurance claims.
I have inflated this statistic by having dealt with two water damage insurance claims myself. My first claim occurred in 2008. Four days after renting out our home after we struggled to sell it, the renter left a bathtub faucet running upstairs while they were at work and the loft next to the bathroom imploded into the living room below. If that was not bad enough, several years ago my friend's four-year-old daughter flushed a towel down my current basement toilet and the towel then wrapped around my sewage sump pump and clogged it while the toilet continued to run. I came home late that night to 3 inches of water in the basement. The worst/best part happened when my plumber was replacing my sump pump. He offered me a water leak detector, so I'd be alerted if something like that happened again. The irony was that I already had a sample sitting in a box soaking wet – unused!
Beyond personal residences, think how vital water leak prevention devices can be in multi-family dwellings like condos and town homes, home rentals and even new construction. For example, if you were living in a condo and the property above yours had a pipe burst while your neighbor was away. Your neighbor’s nightmare is now yours, and the property below you and the building management company. Now the home insurance claim isn’t limited to your condo alone.
The same goes for any unoccupied home. Home rentals are notorious for large water damage claims due to faucets and fixtures being left open to run. I know from personal experience. Knowing your water supply line is protected, similar to a connected thermostat communicating your property is properly heating and cooling, is worth the price!
Stopping Water at the Source
The good news is that 93% of water leaks can be prevented. Utilizing well-placed water leak detectors that are connected to a water shutoff valve can help prevent catastrophic water damage. In 2021, Resideo Water Leak and Freeze detectors helped save 3 million gallons of water and helped prevent an estimated $1.9 million in insurance claims.
Today, I use Resideo’s new Braukmann L5 WiFi Water Shutoff Valve on my home's water main and simply shutoff the water flow into my entire home while I travel via the Resideo app. I can also pair Resideo's WiFi Water Leak & Freeze Detectors in high-risk places and use the actuator’s water sensor cable plugged directly into it – if any part of the cable gets wet, it will close off the actuator stopping water from entering our home. The water cables can be daisy chained up to 500 ft to protect a complete mechanical room. Pipes can leak and burst anywhere throughout the home, especially during the change of seasons, and this product offers me personal peace of mind.
Here are a few additional scenarios that could warrant a water management system and/or leak detection device:
- Air handler in the attic. Using water leak detection devices in or around a condensation pan would be a good idea so as to identify any water damage threat in an unconditioned space.
- Dehumidifier in a crawl space. The average dehumidifier captures 30-70 pints of water per day and this moisture needs to go somewhere. A water leak detector delivers peace of mind when the unit is out of sight.
- Laundry on the second floor. Water damage from a second story can heavily increase the liability of a water damage claims above one's insurance deductible. A water leak detector will quickly alert you to an issue.
- Tankless water heater installed. If a homeowner has one of these, it’s likely they are resource conscious and may be more interested in reducing the amount of water lost to leaks.
- Sump pump pit. These devices are critical for providing protection to one's home from ground water. Knowing there is a problem allows you to act before three inches of water fills the entire basement.
- Recent leak damage. Just as my plumber offered me when I had a water damage to my basement – there is no better time to offer water protection than after a customer has felt the sting of a water insurance claim.
What is peace of mind worth to you and your customers? The cost of water is rising like other utilities and so are monthly insurance premiums. Knowing that I do not need to worry about a pipe burst destroying my home and savings account while I visit the in-laws this Christmas will save some of my sanity, and you can't put a price on that.
*Jason Abajian is the North America Water Sales Manager for Resideo’s Hydronic & Potable Water Solutions. Jason has spent more than 17 years working in the HVAC industry for Resideo Technologies, and previously Honeywell International. With a passion for education and making an impact on future generations, Jason worked for an HVAC installer in the summer, and was a high school teacher during the school year. What started as a summer gig turned into an ideal springboard for his purpose-driven career as a “Wet Head.” Jason is proud to work for an industry that can inspire others and deliver superior craftmanship, comfort and control with minimized environmental impact.