SmartThings Water Leak Sensor

 

Introduction

 

Every year millions of Americans are affected by flooding, causing billions of dollars in damage. But it doesn’t take a flood for water to wreak havoc on your home. Even small leaks can lead to repairs that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. In fact, insurance claims from water damage are one of the most common types of homeowner claims. Missing shingles and poorly sealed doors can let rainwater in. Freezing temperatures can cause non-insulated pipes to burst.  Even a haphazardly curious 3-year-old armed with a roll of Charmin can overflow the toilet. Whatever the case, a byproduct of modern convenience is that we live every day knowing that there’s a possibility of water leaking into our homes.

I know this from personal experience, several times over. In our last home, a drip from the kitchen faucet hose ruined the bottom of our cabinet. The cabinet had to be gutted. We had a new washer and dryer installed by Sears. They left out an O-ring on one of the hoses. The laundry room subfloor had to be replaced.

Even when we moved into our new home, the plumber who installed the dishwasher didn’t tighten the connection down correctly. We woke up to a flooded kitchen during our first month in the house. A quarter of our brand-new kitchen floor had to be replaced. We recently had an issue with a condensation line for the heat pump in our attic. The leak caused drywall damage to the 1st floor ceiling.

The fact is, water leaks are going to happen. Sometimes it’s from storms, sometimes it’s from a shoddy installation that doesn’t show up for several years. The sooner we can detect that something isn’t right, the sooner we can take action. That’s where the SmartThings Water Leak Sensor comes in.

 

  • Price
  • Range
  • Battery Life
  • Installation

Summary

The SmartThings Water Leak Sensor (STS-WTR-250) is a combination water leak and temperature sensor. It operates wirelessly using the ZigBee protocol. It's small and can easily be placed inconspicuously to make sure you can catch leaky toilets, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. before they cause too much damage. The battery should last about 2 years. It's a great addition to any smart home monitoring system. The price is kind of steep, but it has the potential to save you time, effort, and money in repairs.

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The Sensor

 

The SmartThings Water Leak Sensor (STS-WTR-250) is a small device (2.3″ × 1.5″ × 0.9″) that constantly monitors for leaks. It’s a simple design- it has two contacts on the bottom and when water touches both pieces of metal, it activates the sensor.


The water leak sensor uses two contacts on the bottom to report the presence of water.


The sensor is made by SmartThings, so you know it will easily connect to your SmartThings hub . Like all SmartThings-branded sensors, it operates wirelessly as a ZigBee device. This is not  a Z-wave device. It’s powered by a single CR2 lithium battery, good enough for a two year lifespan. The SmartThings Water Leak Sensor can also detect temperature. Additionally, the sensor reports battery percentage in the SmartThings app.

Installation

 

Installation is simple. First, you’ll need to pair it with your SmartThings hub. To start the pairing process, open your SmartThings app. Next, navigate to the My Home and Things tabs as shown below, then choose to Add a Thing. The app will show the SmartThings hub is searching for new devices. Carry the sensor close to the hub. Now pull the tab from leak sensor’s battery compartment. After a few seconds, you should see a message saying that the device was found. See the slideshow below for more information:

Slideshow- Tap or click to view

Let SmartThings search for the sensor. Remove the pull tab from the sensor’s battery.

Once the device is found, tap Save (you can rename it now if you want to).

You’ll now see the water leak sensor in your Things list.

The sensor will report leak status, temperature, and battery percentage in the app.

After a while, you should start to see the sensor reporting data.



All that’s left to do now is to place the sensor in the area you want to monitor. It might be a good idea to use a level to make sure the water will go where you place the sensor. Remember, you want the fastest possible response out of this device. If you have a slight grade to your floor it will increase the time it’ll take for the water to reach the sensor.

Once you’re happy with the placement, check the app to make sure it’s within range and reporting data. If you’re having trouble getting a reliable signal, consider adding one of these as a repeater to boost the ZigBee signal.

 


 

Conclusion

 

Having water leak sensors around the house is similar in concept to keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. It’s something every homeowner should have on hand in case of an emergency. It’s far better to be prepared than just hoping the situation never occurs to start with. Speaking from past experience, I have no doubt that this sensor could have prevented permanent damage to my home in several instances.

The price may turn off a lot of potential buyers. But when compared to home repairs caused by water damage, it’s definitely money well spent.

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