Leak Detection Innovations Worth Knowing About
By HPAC MagazineHPAC General Human Resources Plumbing Alert Labs Eddy Solutions Moen
Digital networks connecting flow sensors and shut off valves can provide new levels of security and peace of mind for home and building owners.
Imagine a service that would monitor the water flow in your home, a remote cabin or an entire multi-unit condo building and alert you before a catastrophic leak occurs. For many homeowners, their comprehensive insurance may cover water damage if a leak is sudden and accidental, but if it’s a slow leak that only appears after a long period of time it’s not so clear. Now there are smart solutions for home and building owners to save them from wasting water and maybe having to make an insurance claim.
“With over $1 billion in paid water damage commercial claims in Canada, water has become the new fire,” says Avishai Moscovich, vice president of marketing and development for Eddy Solutions. a business specializing in water leak detection, asset protection, and water conservation.
Seven years old and growing, Toronto-based Eddy Solutions helps plumbers and property owners solve domestic water challenges. Installed in commercial or residential properties, their Internet-of-things (IoT) and data-driven technology monitors flow, temperature and pressure in water systems, and it can initiate a remote shut-off to limit or prevent emergency water damage.
Condominium boards, as well as homeowner’s associations benefit from the technology by safeguarding against risks associated with water, reducing operating costs by reducing water consumption, and maintaining the well-being that the plumbing system is in good health by using predictive analytics.
The benefits include water management, cost savings, peace of mind, and insurance benefits through incentives and discounts on insurance premiums.
Kitchener, Ontario-based Alert Labs is another domestic water monitoring technology company with intelligent solutions to help organizations protect assets, lower costs and increase sustainability at their buildings. Like Eddy Solutions, the company produces cellular-connected, smart sensors for buildings that link to a central controller that constantly analyzes the water systems and send alerts when potential problems are discovered.
These systems can track historical and real-time data and the intelligence collects information about the times of day when leaks are more likely to occur, the types of water systems that fail the most often, and the flow patterns associated with certain kinds of leaks.
Both of these companies provide solutions for commercial property owners that includes wireless water sensors that can be placed under pipes, in A/C drain pans, near hot-water tanks, under sinks, beside washing machines, or in hard-to-access mechanical closets. Integrated temperature sensors can also warn of elevated or lower-than-normal temperatures in these environments. Wireless cellular connections allows the devices to continue working during power interruptions and can be used in more remote areas or buildings under construction.
Flow sensors are also fundamental to their solutions. The Alert Labs Flowie-O sensor is strapped onto water meters and sends flow data to its AlertAQ platform, automatically recording and analyzing flow. Users are notified if an emergency is detected. The Eddy IQ is an in-line ultrasonic meter that also measures and consistently analyzes flow and can send alerts.
Key to both systems are also their smart automatic shut off valves that can be activated remotely to stop water flow.
Installation of the shut off valves and some flow meters requires professional plumbers, but the process can be quick. Through the flow monitoring and leak detection technology plumbing professionals can gain visibility to waterflow, remote shut-off options, and the predictive analytics that provides peace of mind for their clients.
It can also allow plumbers to provide preventative maintenance. For example, irregular flow could alert that a pressure reducing valve (PRV) is likely to fail and send a service request to repair the diaphragm.
Providing these insights can allow contractors to stay close to their customers, creating more revenue sources, pre-empting service calls, and being empowered to provide top-of-the-line service.
“Stakeholders who benefit from Eddy’s technology are contractors, engineers, utility billing partners, and equipment manufacturers who can confirm with real-time data that their system is designed, installed, and operating as intended,” says Moscovich.
Aside from the financial costs and personal displacement issues caused by flooding, water-monitoring in buildings can also have an environmental impact. “Alert Labs customers have prevented 45 million pounds of CO2(equivalent) from entering the atmosphere by reducing wasted water. What’s good for the planet is good for everyone”, says Bob Wasserman, Alert Labs CEO.
The company analyzes more than 25 million gallons of water each year and claims it has helped customers save more than $20 million. “We’re constantly refining it to be one of the most effective tools in any professional’s toolkit,” says Bob Wasserman, Alert Labs CEO.
Solutions designed more for the single-family homeowner come from more household brands names including Moen and Kohler.
Moen has developed its Smart Water Network, a collection of intelligent devices combined into one integrated Smart Water app for home owners. The network includes leak detection devices including Moen’s Flo smart water monitor and shutoff, smart leak detectors and sump pump monitor, and the app can also provide temperature and flow control from Moen’s collection of smart faucets and smart showers.
“We know that today’s consumers prefer integrated systems far more than single-room solutions, and Moen’s smart water network features just that,” says Anny Ang, director of wholesale marketing at Moen Canada.
Installed on the water lines entering the home, Moen’s Flo monitor checks pressure, flow rate and ambient temperature, and if the device senses a leak it can be set to close the water valve. The company’s new sump pump monitor connects to a homeowners’ current sump pump to monitor and provide alerts for a potential pump failure to help reduce the risk of flooding.
Earlier this year Kohler launched its new water monitoring systems, the H2Wise and H2Wise+, both powered by Phyn solutions. Phyn was founded in 2016 as a joint venture between Uponor and Belkin (Uponor exited the venture in 2021) providing leak detection solutions for homeowners. The new partnership with Kohler extends the reach of the company’s technology.
The Kohler H2Wise solution connects under any sink to the hot and cold water lines and works to monitor water pressure and provide real-time alerts. The H2Wise+ system is installed onto the main water line, its ultrasonic flow meter and high-definition pressure sensors analyze a home’s water usage and provides the ability to shut off the main water supply automatically and remotely when a leak is detected.
The products are controllable through the Kohler Konnect app which is also compatible with all existing Kohler plumbing fixtures.
Additional features being included in the Moen Smart Water App include a Winterize solution that will manually trigger the system to use the Flo smart water monitor and shutoff to shut off water coming into the home, then purge the water line via a smart faucet, and the company’s Burst Protect solution will sense that high pressure or low temperatures could put a home’s pipes at risk of freezing, so it will shut off water to the home via the Flo monitor and purge the water line with a smart faucet by using data collected by the devices to know when it’s time to trigger the feature.
Whether it’s remote shut-off capabilities, customized alerts, or a way to help the environment, all of these modern IoT solutions are reacting to market needs. For plumbing contractors, knowing that these technologies exist and making customers aware is a proactive approach to plumbing maintenance and good customer service.