How Smart Water Leak Sensors Eliminate Under Sink Leaks
The fixture can leak 400 liters of water an hour.
LAIIER's solution: A flexible, accurate and easy to install sensor
Under-sink plumbing typically includes hot and cold water feeds and a drainage system. Each of these components can leak which can be difficult to notice as sink performance can appear unchanged despite a large leak. Additionally, items stored under the sink or fitted cabinets around sink plumbing can obscure a visual leak inspection.
If ignored, these leaks can spread beyond the sink, making them especially damaging to modular fitted bathrooms and kitchens. This can create a significant cost to homeowners as insurance payouts may not cover everything. Therefore, an easy-to-install device that can detect sink leaks early on in the process is needed.
- Every day, 14,000 homeowners deal with water leak emergencies in the US.
- Domestic water leaks cost $17B in claims each year in the USA and the UK.
- The average domestic "escape of water" (EOW) damage claim is $6,965.
- There are 5M sinks in multi-unit housing in the US alone.
Growth in the personalized kitchens and bathrooms market presents issues with concealed plumbing
Currently, domestic EOW incidents share the largest amount of claims for most insurers, overtaking theft and fire claims. These payouts are only becoming more expensive with a reported 30% increase at the beginning of 2021. The scale of these risks mean insurance companies are adopting more data-based models to make better predictions. For example, Hiscox, as a leading UK insurer, has provided free leak detectors to all its building insurance customers.
Furthermore, the smart home device market is also growing strongly at a CAGR of 10.4% to reach US$138.9B by 2026. This gives a strong hint that these smart devices benefit many homeowners’ quality of living. Smart solutions are mostly seen in home security, air quality and energy usage, but this is already expanding to water leak detection.
Whilst personalized homes bring many aesthetic and functional features, plumbing becomes more concealed, obscuring leaks. Additionally, leaks can spread to damage adjacent units easier, multiplying the costs of repair. Even if only a small area is damaged, replacing an individual section is much more costly with modular designs.
Sinks can damage costly furnishings
Sinks have many weak points. These include corrosion on pipes and valves, fractures on plastic fittings, untreated clogs, loose P-traps and many more.
It is hard to predict exactly what will leak and when. Furthermore, damage can be sped up by conditions such as cold weather, high pressures and hard water. Finding these leaks is therefore crucial but can be difficult to notice in tight spaces. Water can drip behind surfaces and collect on top of stored objects rather than making an obvious puddle.
Being unaware of small leaks can be catastrophic as drips can suddenly transform into ruptured pipes, leaking up to 400 liters an hour. EOW can cause further indirect costs as mentioned before by damaging surrounding expensive furnishings but also potentially leading to mold.
These costs can be compensated by home insurance, however policies usually only cover accidental sudden events that exclude poor maintenance. For example, a dripping tap that eventually bursts may not be compensated for.
Further conditions that exclude homeowners from sufficient payouts include not being covered for ‘trace and access’ (i.e. to find and fix the source of the leak) or leaving premises unoccupied for a period of time. This is why so many EOW claims get rejected, leaving a huge burden on homeowners.
Insurers intentionally do not cover all costs, as they cannot predict the large costs associated with serious leaks. Insurers are therefore very keen for more customer data to estimate potential water damage. If insurers were notified as soon as a leak occurred, this could prevent leaks from worsening, reducing the payout costs. This data may also give more confidence to insurance providers to cover more policy types.
To detect leaks early, homeowners are recommended to regularly check prone-to-leak areas such as around sinks. However, this is impractical as small leaks may not be clearly visible when pipes are hidden in tight spaces. Furthermore, the obvious signs of a leak such as water stains, bulges and musty odors mean that a leak is already quite serious.
Water leak sensors are therefore essential for proactive monitoring and can be categorized into two main devices. Firstly, flood water leak detectors are rigid, palm-sized pucks that are placed on flat surfaces to detect water that seeps underneath them. However, these pucks may not be suited underneath sinks because of the lack of space. Also, water leaks here may collect on objects stored under sinks rather than on the ground so may not be detected sufficiently.
Secondly, there are flowmeter-type sensors that monitor water flow rate, pressure and temperature as a method of inferring leaks. Although these can detect small leaks, these sensors do not locate the source of the leak. Without knowing where a leak is makes it difficult to find and therefore repair. Current sensing solutions are thus not suited for detection.
LAIIER combats these limitations with a thin, flexible sensor that can be installed like a sticker to detect the first drops of a leak. Alerting homeowners early prevents the build-up to serious events, so water damage to surrounding furnishings will be mitigated. The adaptable form factor means that these sensors can be placed on a variety of surfaces. In the case of sinks, this includes around pipes or at the base of a cabinet- even with items stored on top.
The LAIIER solution also includes being able to rapidly notify homeowners of any leaks through our LAIIER Cloud platform utilizing LoRaWAN. This innovative and power-efficient communication network means that battery life can span years minimizing maintenance. Our LoRaWAN leak detectors can therefore supply data to insurance firms who can better understand risks and prevent further damage.
There is a demand for more accurate leak detection solutions
Insurance companies providing for single-unit households
Almost all homeowners have building insurance which may cover EOW in sudden events but not from general wear and tear. Actively monitoring potential sink leaks with a our LoRaWAN water detectors can identify issues earlier, preventing burst pipes and damaged furnishings. This saves money for the homeowner and the insurance provider who do not have to cover the extra damage. By providing more data, insurance firms can provide more policies as they know which damage types can be mitigated with early detection.
Insurance companies providing for multi-unit households
Multi-unit housing such as residential flats are in further danger of leaks as a result of more bathrooms and kitchens. When a leak does occur, this may cause even more damage as multiple property owners can be affected. Legally this can be quite an ordeal for brokers and loss adjusters resolving insurance cases with many parties involved. Therefore, early detection can prevent the chances of multi-party damage.
Homeowners may not be able to spot leaks around obscured areas like sinks. Installing our water leak detection sensors can give a head start for homeowners to promptly alert plumbing services for assistance. This can be especially helpful for plumbing maintenance services overseeing many properties.
LAIIER addresses the issues with current solutions with Severn WLD
Sinks are a hotspot for a range of potential leak types. What makes the situation worse is that pipes are hidden away so leak detection is usually reactive, such as after a burst pipe. This delay can cause further, unpredictable damage to surrounding expensive furnishings. Early detection and understanding of a leak are therefore key in repairing sinks earlier and preventing secondary damage.
LAIIER addresses this need with our Severn Water Leak Detection sensor: an ultra-thin sensor solution that can wrap around pipes or cover custom surfaces to detect leaks. This contrasts to current solutions that depend on guessing where to place an obtrusive puck, or requiring cutting pipes. LAIIER’s LoRaWAN water leak sensor means homeowners and insurance providers can be alerted efficiently, minimizing the risks of further damage.