How Water Leak Detectors Can Prevent Costly Home Damage

By Nancy B
February 07, 2024

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Virtually every surface of your home is susceptible to potential water damage. A sudden broken pipe, leaking roof, or failed dishwasher or washing machine are just a few of the sources that can lead to damaged personal belongings, warped flooring, cracked drywall and ceilings, and unhealthy mold in your home. Hidden water leaks can accumulate over time, leading to potentially catastrophic damage.

Home carpet and insulation on backyard deck


Main causes of home water damage

There are a few typical causes of water damage to your home that water leak detectors can help.

  • Human error: People can inadvertently cause water damage in the home. For example, children can leave a faucet running or flush a toy down the toilet. 
  • Appliances:  Dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and other appliances that use large amounts of water can malfunction due to faulty hoses, clogs, or other issues.

  • Plumbing issues: Leaking pipes or toilets, faulty water heaters, clogged drains, and other plumbing problems are among the most common causes of water damage in homes.
  • Effects of weather: Heavy rainfall, flooding, hurricanes, and other weather-related events can cause significant water damage in a home. Freezing weather can lead to burst water pipes and water damage. When water inside your pipes freezes, it expands, causing cracks in the pipes or joints. 

What is a water detector?

An important tool in your protective arsenal is water leak detectors. Water sensors detect and alert you through a siren when a leak is present in an area of your home so you can investigate quickly. Wi-Fi-enabled or "smart" water leak sensors send out a notification to the homeowner through a smartphone app. If the homeowner is out of town, family members, friends, or other caretakers can be designated to receive notification so quick action can be taken to help prevent further damage. Some whole house water-sensor systems can be programmed to shut off the water to help prevent a small leak from becoming a large one.

Leaking washer with phone alert

Where to place your water leak detector

Water sensors should be placed near appliances or plumbing fixtures that use water and are prone to water leaks in your home. 

Water leak-prone areas include areas near:

  • Refrigerator water and ice maker supply intake lines. (Behind your appliance)
  • Hot-water heaters
  • Bathroom toilets and tubs
  • Under sinks in the kitchen, bathroom, or utility rooms
  • Boilers, furnaces, HVAC condensation lines
  • Under dishwashers
  • Washing machines
  • Sump pumps
  • Fish tanks

Ways to prevent water damage

Performing regular maintenance to water lines and plumbing is one of the best ways to help prevent water damage before you have a leak. Visually check for rusty, corroded, worn, or damaged supply lines and valves and other potential problems. Be careful to ensure water supply lines are clear and open, making sure they are not crimped or pinched if they run under other objects. Prevent frozen and burst pipes by keeping them warm and insulated. For more tips on protecting pipes in the winter, read what to do if you think you have a frozen pipe.


Is water damage covered by home insurance?

Water damage, separate from home flooding, is one of the most common causes of costly home property loss, time-consuming repairs, and insurance claims, occurring more frequently than fire, burglary, or any other home loss reported to insurance. Unfortunately, not all water damage is covered by standard home insurance, especially if it's a chronic or gradual water damage issue due to a lack of maintenance or the water that comes from outside your home, such as flooding. These reasons make it critical to do everything you can to prevent water leaks in your home and add simple solutions like water leak detectors.

THE NORTHERN NECK INSURANCE INTEGRITY PROMISE — We pledge to provide straight talk and good counsel from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts through our blog. While we hope you find this to be a helpful source of information, it does not replace the guidance of a licensed insurance professional, nor does it modify the terms of your Northern Neck Insurance policy in any way. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy.