How do you go about detecting leaks in water pipes?
I was pondering the other day on the subject of how does one go about detecting, monitoring and preventing water leaks in the domestic setting? I may have been encouraged to do so by the recently announced DesignSpark water leak challenge, it certainly served to stir my imagination. Never having even thought about such a subject, I realised that I knew next to nothing about what potential solutions exist today that the technologically savvy homeowner can do to help themselves avoid a kitchen swimming pool, or water enhanced internal renovations.
As usual, the first thing I generally do is go into creativity mode and attempt to solve a problem that has most likely been solved a hundred times in the past. How do you possibly detect a water leak in pipework that resides under your sink, or leading to a radiator, or even (god forbid) within a wall cavity? The old noggin clicked into thinking mode, ideas tumbled forth, a detection method that covers the entire pipe, perhaps some form of a mesh with conductor pathways within that when touched by water create a circuit. What about a sensor that samples and monitors for moisture in air used in combination with a series of sensors where water may pool?
The Ideas Pool
I deducted that monitoring water pressure may prove an issue, well in my mind anyway, how do you define what is a water leak and what is someone in the house running a bath, or watering the flower pots? I guess you could use average values on water volume and pressure, with some digital trickery controlling a stop cock somewhere, but I didn’t fancy that plan personally. I could see myself deciding to wash the car with the garden hose, only to have it turn off halfway through which would drive me crackers and perhaps lead to violent scenes in the garden, at least verbally.
At this point, after a few hours of mumbling to myself and drawing various pictures of scenarios, solutions, and countless outcomes, I decided it might be an idea to see how other people, far more qualified than myself in regards to water management and leak detection may have approached the subject that I, by now, had turned into mythical status.
Searching for those soggy solutions
I fired up the all-knowing search engine and began to search for solutions to this curious little problem, just how do you go about detecting those leaks then? Internet…I want to know what you think. First stop was Amazon, who appeared to have a varied selection of goodies many of which, as I should have known, solved many of the scenarios I had attempted to create solutions for a few hours before.
Indexa Water leak detector and Proper Security Magnetic mount leak detector
A company called Waterguard have a solution to burst and leaking water pipes with a clever device called The Waterguard Home System, which appears to be the pressure and volumetric system I was tip toeing around during my design perusals earlier in the day. They also have a whole host of solutions for larger supply systems outside of my domestic problem explorations, along with PIR and Puddle Sensor devices, I might have been wasting my time earlier I think…
Waterguard Home System
Next, on my search results exploration, I found a rope water sensor (779-3885), a nifty wrap-around the pipe solution that reacts to a leak should any portion of the rope become wet, handy indeed. I guess it would be best to apply this before building the kitchen cabinets, but ideal for applications where you think about this kind of thing first I imagine! You will need a device to monitor that cable as well, however!
Then, of course, there are those clever chaps who create leak detectors that are WiFi friendly and send you notifications via an app on your mobile phone should a puddle suddenly appear under your washing machine. Incorporating a wireless smart sensor and requiring no additional networking interface the D-Link WiFi Water Sensor will let you know if there is a leak wherever you are in the world (as long as you have your data turned on and a signal I supposed), it also has a host of add-ons available too.
D-Link WiFi Water Sensor
Of course, residing the in the pages of DesignSpark are some solutions to the issues of flooding, although, for a grander application than my kitchen, for example, some clever chaps have created a flood detection system in Calderdale. A series of networked sensors monitor river levels with the purpose of warning the locals that it’s time to get out the sandbags and move the furniture upstairs, a great idea for those people who happen to live on flood plains, this idea could potentially save millions of pounds, wish I’d have thought of it!
At this point, it seemed obvious that the few joyful hours I had spent wondering how I would solve or at least attempt to monitor and check for leaks had been covered off by a few entrepreneurial types already. That aside, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more solutions to mopping up the solutions (excuse the pun) out there in this fast moving tech driven world. I’ll keep thinking about it, mulling those ideas over and over, perhaps I may have come up with a brilliant idea already ( I am partial to that conductive mesh thingy I imagined!), maybe some of the items shown above could be combined, they might be already are, either way, there is always room for more innovation.