The most important things to know

to choose meaningfully.


Water leak detectors are devices created with the scope of identifying water losses. Some examples of water losses that can be found at the residential level are leaks in pipes, sinks, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines or rooftops. Water leaks reduce your water consumption efficiency, increase your utility bills and extend the possibility of significant damages at home. Additionally, leaking pipes can become a health hazard due to the contaminants that can be infiltrated in your water supply. And at a more general level, water losses represent an increase in the consumption of energy and other resources needed to extract, pump, transport and treat that additional volume of water that is lost.

Just to provide some figures, you might be interested in knowing that American households’ leaks account for approximately 900 billion US gallons, which is the equivalent to the annual water consumed by nearly 11 million homes1. That in Europe, the average water damage cost adds up to around 2300 euros2.  Or simply, that on average, 144 litres of water per day is supplied to each European habitant, which represents nearly three times the minimum quantity to meet basic human needs3, while on parallel, billions of people still lack the combination of safe water, sanitation and handwashing facilities at home4.

Fortunately, the combination of several measures, among which the installation of leak detectors, can decrease both the quantity of water abstracted, up to a 50%, and the amount of water consumed, going from 140 to 80 litres per day per European5.


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Time saved thanks to the possibility of running tests automatically and shutting the water off from remote.

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No direct impact on the physical environment.

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Peace of mind increased thanks to increased transparency and consequently, a faster implementation of corrective measures.

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Savings increased thanks to the early detection of water leaks and the avoidance of significant damages at home.


Water leak detectors can be classified based on several aspects. For instance, and similarly to what happens with alarm systems, some products offer professional monitoring as a service, for which one could think of using this variable as a classification criterion. However, before reaching that level, you may want to distinguish between two leading families of water leak detectors:

These are devices that emit audible or other types of alert once a leak is detected. They are typically placed on the ground, close to a potential water loss source like a bath, a toilet or a dishwasher, and are thought for monitoring that specific targeted area. In this case, the principle of functioning is pretty simple: two electric contacts that are initially separated come together once the water flows between them, closing in this way the electric circuit and making the alarm go off. In other occasions, water leak detectors are mounted on the water supply pipes and use water flow rates readings to detect potential leaks. Passive water leak detectors then, unless when paired with a motorized valve, are not able to open and close the water supply.

These are devices that do not just emit an alert once a water leak is detected, but also react to that loss by shutting down the water feeding. Most of them are directly connected to the main water supply and integrate a shut-off valve that closes the water feeding when a leak is detected. Generally, these water leak detectors present a higher measurement sensitivity when compared to passive solutions, meaning that they can identify not just pipe breaks but also pipe leakages or dripping taps.


Before selecting the safety companion that will help you to prevent water damages and at the same time-saving water for others, there are some variables that you may want to consider:

The installation of passive and active water leak detectors does not have to be necessarily exclusive, but it can also be complementary. For instance, in a condominium, even if a dynamic system is already in place, passive water leak detectors can be useful to prevent water damages that are not dependent on your water supply feed, but that arrive from other sources like your neighbours. Or they can be the right solution to add an extra layer of safety to some of your home areas like the basement or the bathroom.

Being safety devices, it can be a good idea to buy a battery-powered device so that in case of a power outage they can continue operating.

Depending on the water leak detector selected, you will have to make sure that the size and materials of the pipes in which it is going to be connected or clamped are compatible.

Some active water leak detectors run an automated test that consists of the opening and closing of the shut-off valve to make sure that it operates correctly.

Water leak detectors that can detect small drips of water are preferred as those small drips are considered the harbingers of significant problems like pipe bursts. At the same time, those small drips make you lose significant volumes of water that remain behind the walls and ceilings creating mould and its consequent problems. Drip leakages detection is usually just reached through the combination of water pressure, temperature and flow monitoring.

While many water leak detectors come equipped with temperature sensors that measure the ambient temperature, just a few can directly monitor the temperature of the water. In both cases, water leak detectors send an alert to inform about temperatures that approach freezing conditions.

In case you have kids or animals you might be interested in choosing a water leak detector that, in case any attempt at tampering, you receive a notification informing you about it.

Some water leak detectors can be used as water meters, providing you with full visibility about water consumption quantities and patterns.

Take into account monthly professional monitoring fees, potential water damage coverage and any other services that may complete the product offer.



Passive water leak detectors should generally be placed close to any potential source of water losses like toilets, baths, sinks, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and basements. Active systems instead should generally be installed at the beginning of the water supply. Make sure as well, unless when powered through batteries, to have a power socket close to the installation location.


If the device supports the function, it is a good practice to set consumption targets that help you save money while becoming more environmentally and socially responsible. As well, you may want to set the maximum volume that can be lost before the devices automatically shut the supply off.


To make your water consumption more efficient, it is advised to test different ways of doing the same activity, like having a shower and using the water leak detector to check how those variations impact on water consumption. As well, remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and using the right button when flushing the toilet. On the other side, to prevent leaks, check or have a plumber to review your plumbing system and replace those hose on appliances at the smallest sign of wear.


Water leak detectors do not generally require any type of extraordinary maintenance except for wireless ones, which need a periodical replacement of the batteries. Keep the devices up to date with the last version of the software.

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