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How Water Sensors Work—And Why You Need Them 

Mar 01, 2023|

When it comes to home damage, nothing is more expensive than water damage. Water damage occurs more frequently than fire, burglary, or any other home loss reported to insurance, and it’s also common—non weather-related water damage accounted for more property losses than any other cause.

It’s also expensive to repair. The average water damage claim is just over $11,000, and gets pricier the longer the leak goes unnoticed—according to FEMA, just one inch of water can cause over $25,000 in repair costs.

Luckily, there’s a way to prevent this. Water sensors are a must-have for any homeowner, detecting water in your home so you can stop leaks before they cause serious damage. Read on to find out how these devices work, where you should put them, and why the Vivint water sensor is the best choice.

Vivint Water Sensor placed on the ground.

Main causes of water damage in a home

Some of the most common causes of water damage inside a home include:

  • Plumbing issues: Leaking or burst pipes, faulty water heaters, leaking toilets, clogged drains, and other plumbing problems can lead to water damage in your home. This is often one of the most common causes of water damage in homes.
  • Weather: Freezing weather can lead to burst water pipes and subsequent water damage. When water inside your pipes freezes, it expands. This can cause cracks in the pipes or joints. Heavy rainfall, flooding, hurricanes, and other weather-related events can cause significant water damage in a home.
  • Appliances: Dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and other appliances that use large amounts of water can also malfunction and cause water damage. This can be due to faulty hoses, clogs, or other issues.
  • Human error: Accidents happen, especially when you’re busy or have curious children in the house. Sometimes people can lead to water damage in your home. For example, you may accidentally leave a faucet running, or your little one might see how many of their toys they can flush when you’re not looking.

The damage that water causes isn’t always as obvious as a puddle on the floor. Water can seep into the walls, floors, and ceiling and cause damage that is not visible. Over time, this hidden damage can lead to structural problems and mold growth, posing serious health risks to the occupants of the home—not to mention expensive problems.

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Smart home water sensors prevent water damage

The best way to minimize the damage from water leaks is to stop them before they become major problems. A water sensor is one of the best devices your smart home can have.

Water sensors are small water leak detection devices that can be placed near sources of water in your home, such as bathrooms, water heaters, water tanks, near your HVAC system, sump pump, and more.

If the presence of water is detected, the water leak detector emits an audible alarm, alerting you. From there, you can immediately shut off the water supply to the appliance or home and take steps to address the issue.

How do water leak sensors work?

Smart home water sensors use different types of sensors to detect the presence of water or changes in moisture levels. The most commonly used sensors for leak detection systems include:

  • Conductive sensors. These detect changes in conductivity caused by the presence of water. They consist of two electrodes that are separated by a non-conductive material. When water comes into contact with the electrodes, it completes an electrical circuit, triggering an alert.
  • Capacitive sensors. These sensors emit an electrical field and have two conductive surfaces (typically two metal plates) that are separated by a non-conductive material, such as plastic. When water comes into contact with the plastic, is disrupts the field and alerts to the presence of water.
  • Optical sensors. These sensors work by using infrared LED light to detect changes in the refractive index of the plastic housing. When water comes into contact with the sensor, it changes the refractive index, sounding the alarm.

Regardless of the type of sensor used, once it detects water, it sends a signal to your home security system’s smart hub or your smartphone app, alerting the homeowner. From there, you can quickly respond to any potential leaks or water accumulation, helping to prevent serious issues.

YouTube video about the Vivint Water Sensor.

Where to place your water sensor

Water sensors should be placed in any areas prone to water leaks, including:

  • Under sinks
  • In bathrooms around toilets or close to bathtubs
  • By your water heater
  • In the laundry room
  • Around appliances such as the dishwasher, refrigerator, or water softener
Vivint Water Sensor next to a bathtub.

What to do if you find a leak

When a leak in your home occurs, it is essential to act quickly in order to minimize the damage. One of the main reasons water damage can become so extensive is that many leaks start as small leaks, which can be very difficult to detect.

There are things you can do to minimize damage from leakage. The first thing you should do is locate the source of the water and turn off the water. Every home has a main water shut-off, and residential building codes require shut-off valves on all toilets, faucets, and other main water features, such as a laundry room.

If the cause of the leak (such as an overflowing toilet or faucet left running) isn’t immediately apparent, it’s a good idea to call a plumber to come and assess the situation.

Vivint water sensor — water leak and temperature sensor

Many water sensors only detect water. While this can prevent damage from water, it doesn’t help prevent damage from freezing pipes.

Burst pipes caused by freezing temperatures are one of the most common causes of winter property damage, and costs to repair are often in excess of $5,000, making a sensor that can identify both water and freezing temperatures essential.

The Vivint Water Sensor does just that, providing double duty to protect your home’s plumbing from both freezing temperatures as well as water damage. If your water sensor detects a low temperature that could lead to freezing pipes, it will notify you immediately so you can take steps to prevent freezing.

Some of the other benefits to the water sensor include:

  • Immediate, real-time alerts on your smartphone app—no matter where you are—so you can act quickly
  • Small, compact design and battery-powered, so it fits in small or tight spaces and can be moved if needed
  • Long-lasting lithium battery that lasts for 3-6 years, depending on usage
  • Easy to setup and connect to your home’s smart home security system
  • Potential discounts on your homeowner’s insurance
Vivint Water Sensor in a bathroom.

What our customers are saying about the Vivint Water Sensor

With its fast, accurate detection and ability to prevent costly damage, the water sensor is a favorite of our customers. Take a look at why our customers love their water sensor:

This little gadget literally saved me thousands of dollars!! My utility sink drain was mistakenly covered causing water to over flow on to the basement floor while doing laundry. The water unfortunately flowed underneath the wall on the the finished side of the basement with carpet. I was able to quickly stop the flow and prevent serious damage. Thanks to the water sensor!


Already detected a leak in my home, great little devices to have at home for those unknown leaks that can create big problems if left untreated.


Life savers! Detects water quickly and helps you save $ from major water damage


Has gone off twice already to warn me of a leak around my water heater. Well worth the price!


Protect your home against leaks with Vivint

Vivint’s water sensor is an important part of a smart home security system, providing peace of mind that your home is protected from threats—including water damage.

It’s easy to customize your smart home system. Contact our Smart Home Pros today at 855.822.1220 to get started.

Get a free quote today.

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*Offer Details

Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.

Third-Party Financing Options Available

Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.

Vivint Systems & Services

System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.