Monitoring for leaks is the best way to prevent water damage. Left unchecked, small leaks under your water heater, washing machine or sink can cause problems throughout your home or business, including structural and foundational damage. Modern water leak detectors instantly alert you about microleaks, frost and unusual water flow before these issues turn into broken pipes, a flooded basement or worse.
We considered different water detection technology, alert notification systems, price and customer reviews to select the best leak detectors.
What is the best water leak detector?
- Our favorite water detector:
LeakSMART Water Leak Detector Starter Kit
- Our favorite smart water leak detector:
Flume Water Monitor
- Our favorite Wi-Fi water leak detector:
- Our favorite wireless leak detector:
Zircon Electronic Water Detector
- Our favorite budget water detector:
- Our favorite plug-in water leak detector:
Eve Water Guard
- Our favorite detector with automatic shut off:
Grohe Sense Guard Smart
- Our favorite HomeKit water leak sensor:
Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor
- Our favorite water leak detector for emergencies:
Govee Water Sensor
- Our favorite underground leak detector:
How do water leak detectors work?
Water leak damage can
in repairs for homeowners
Water sensors detect and prevent excess moisture and flooding caused by broken pipes and faulty appliances. A leak detection system is made of sensors, shut-off valves and a centralized hub. The sensors are placed in areas where leaks are common, such as near faucets and beneath water heaters.
Home water leak detector systems trigger a water sensor alarm if they detect moisture in a location that should be dry. Some leak detectors also monitor for changes in acoustics. Since all leaks create soundwaves, the detector gauges the severity of the leak by the frequency of the sound it produces. For example, underground water leak detectors for finding slab leaks utilize acoustic technology.
Knowing that there is a leak is one thing, but being able to stop it from damaging your home and belongings is where the real power lies. Modern water detectors that combine moisture sensors and flow-based leak detection automatically shut off valves to prevent you from coming home to a big, watery mess. Automatic shut-off valves are installed near your water main and cut off the flow if the detector senses moisture or irregular pressure — this prevents the extensive damage that can be caused by water leaks that occur when you’re away from home and can’t access the water source.
Broken seals, clogged lines, loose connections, damaged joints, corrosion and excess water pressure are just a few of the most common causes of water leaks that sensors can detect. Water leak detectors also help prevent damage caused by tree roots and rapid or extreme temperature changes, which are difficult to discover on your own before it’s too late.
What to look for in water leak detection systems
Even budget-priced leak detectors should be easy to install and have a loud onboard alarm siren. Look for a 70- to 100-decibel water detector alarm, but you may want one that’s even louder if you have trouble hearing (for context, the average smoke alarm is about 85 decibels). Many of the best water leak detectors include features like smart home integrations, automatic shut-off and temperature sensors. Other components and features to look for in water leak detector include:
- Smart home integrations
- Smart home integration is a vital part of an effective and efficient water leak detection system because it allows you to quickly control your leak detection system no matter where you are. Smart integrations include app alerts, IFTTT and Z-Wave technology. Most leak detection systems can be integrated with your Amazon Echo or other intelligent hub devices. Check the connection protocols to ensure the device is compatible with your smart hub.
- Water leaks don't just happen in one area. A system with options to expand the coverage area, add more sensors and include cable extenders helps you protect more ground. Basic water sensors only alert you if the primary sensor detects water, but having multiple plug-in sensors is typically more cost-effective than buying different leak detection systems for the various areas of your home.
- Automatic shut-off systems
- Systems with automatic shut-off features turn off the water source when they detect a leak. Water leak detectors with automatic shut-off features are usually more expensive but could be worth it to prevent significant damage to a vacation home or other property where you don’t spend most of your time. Water leak detectors with automatic shut-off features are also popular among landlords with rental units that are at a high risk for leaks and floods.
- Extended battery life
- Most smart leak detectors plug directly into a wall outlet and come with a backup battery that keeps the device powered when utilities are down. Water-related emergencies and leaks often happen when the power goes off, so it’s essential to invest in a smart water leak detector that has extended battery life. Some batteries can last up to 10 years.
- Freeze monitoring sensors
- Low temperatures can cause plumbing fixtures and pipes to freeze. When pipes freeze, they expand — and when they expand, they can burst. This results in a cold, expensive and overwhelming mess. If you live in an area where frozen pipes are common, invest in a leak detection system that detects freezing temperatures and sends an alert to your smartphone.
- Plug-in sensors
- Plug-in sensors allow you to cover more ground and monitor more space. Basic water sensors only alert you if the primary sensor detects water, but systems with multiple plug-in sensors let you widen your coverage area.
- Easy Installation
- Most water leak detectors are easy to install, typically taking less than an hour to put in place. You can put battery-powered leak sensors anywhere susceptible to water damage, including pipes, sump pumps, washing machines and toilets. Standalone models sit on the ground, whereas detectors with probe water sensors connect to a cable and are a better fit for tight spaces, such as behind water heaters. Keep in mind that water leak detector installation sometimes requires a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. A plumber may need to help you install more advanced systems with automatic shut-off features.
- Look for LED lights that blink or flash when the device detects a leak, has a low battery or loses connection. The light also makes it easier to find the unit in dark areas under sinks and in water heater closets.
Compare water leak detectors
You should consider a water leak detector if you want to catch small leaks before they cause significant damage. Automatic shut-off features are best for those who want to instantly cut their water source at the first sign of a leak. Temperature sensors are essential if you live in an area where pipes are prone to freezing.
|Temperature sensor||Automatic shut-off||Battery life||Price|
|LeakSMART Starter Kit||1 year||$$$|
|Flume Water Monitor||1 - 2 years||$$$|
|Honeywell Lyric||3 years||$$|
|Zircon Electronic Water Detector||3 - 4 years||$$|
|Glentronics Watchdog||5 years||$|
|Eve Water Guard||N/A (plug-in)||$$|
|Grohe Sense Guard Smart||4 years||$$$|
|Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor||2 years||$$|
|Govee Water Sensor||1 year||$$|
|2M Ultrasonic||2 years||$$$$|
|Battery life||1 year||1 - 2 years||3 years||3 - 4 years||5 years||N/A (plug-in)||4 years||2 years||1 year||2 years|
Our favorite water leak detector
Water Leak Detector Starter Kit by LeakSMART
The Water Leak Detector Starter Kit by LeakSMART is our top pick because it’s easy to install and responds almost instantly to the first sign of water. If it detects a leak or freeze, the sensor triggers an alarm, sends text alerts and shuts off the main water supply to prevent damage.
Each LeakSMART water detector kit includes an automatic shut-off valve, system hub and one sensor. The device operates off of a smart home protocol, so you can purchase just the valve and sensor instead of the whole system if you already have a Wink, Iris or Zigbee-based system.
LeakSMART sensors are small, wireless and waterproof. The system is simple to set up around water heaters, appliances and HVAC units. Additional LeakSMART sensors are sold separately and provide extra protection in high-risk areas — one hub can accommodate up to 32 sensors.
Our favorite smart water leak detector
Flume Water Monitor
Flume is our pick for the best smart water leak detector because it monitors and controls water sources, including irrigation systems, with 24/7 intelligent leak detection technology. A Flume Water Monitor is easy to install, accurate and compatible with 95% of water meters.
Even though there are cheaper smart water leak detectors on this list, Flume reviews indicate that the higher price is well worth it to avoid the headache and cost of water damage repairs. Many customers purchase Flume Water Monitors to monitor for leaks in vacation or rental homes.
The sensor straps onto your existing water meter and does not require any plumbing work. Once installed, this water monitor connects to the Flume app or Alexa for remote monitoring so you can track your water usage and catch leaks early. The Flume sensor uses a low-power, high-range radio frequency to detect leaks. The sensor comes with four AA batteries, which should last between one and two years.
Our favorite Wi-Fi water leak detector
Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak & Freeze Detector by Honeywell
Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak & Freeze Detector is our top pick for Wi-Fi water leak detector because it connects directly to standard home Wi-Fi and doesn’t require a hub. Its sensors monitor temperature, humidity and moisture. Cold-alert detection can sense temperatures from 30 below zero to 150 degrees.
The Wi-Fi water sensor works with the Honeywell Lyric app to alert you if your pipes begin to freeze or leak. You can also set up the app to notify a friend or trusted neighbor if you’re away for an extended period. Plus, the logging feature lets you monitor and record humidity and temperature data.
This Honeywell Lyric is easy to install around water heaters and sump pumps. The detector kit includes a floor sensor, battery backup, water alarm and a 4-foot cable sensor. Additional cable sensors can extend the device’s capabilities, which is ideal for large areas like basements, and additional cables are sold separately. The device requires AA batteries (not included) and has an average battery life of up to three years.
Our favorite wireless water leak detector
Zircon Electronic Water Detector
The Zircon Electronic Water Detector is fully automatic and requires no wiring to install. There’s no need to plug this leak alert into an outlet — simply pop in a new 9-volt battery (like the ones commonly used in smoke detectors) and place the detector facing down on the floor where you want to monitor for moisture.
This electronic water leak detector comes in a three-pack for homeowners to use in multiple rooms. You can put them under sinks or near water heaters, sump pumps, dishwashers, water filtration units and plumbing outlets. The device triggers an alarm when it comes in contact with water. Reviewers describe the 85-decibel alarm sound as a “pulsating pitch” that is about as noticeable as a smoke alarm.
During severe flooding, this Zircon leak alert can float and sound its alarm for up to 72 hours or until the battery is depleted. Under normal circumstances, you can expect the battery to last between three and four years. The device chirps to notify you when the battery is running low to provide additional security.
Our favorite budget water detector
Glentronics Watchdog is our pick for best budget water detector because it has a long battery life, is easy to install and accurately detects water and moisture when it’s where it shouldn’t be. There aren’t many extra perks with the Glentronics Watchdog, but it’s useful for detecting leaks and moisture before mold can grow or costly water damage occurs.
A Glentronics leak detector is versatile and can be used in any room. It can detect as little as 1/32 of an inch of water. The alarm sounds for up to three days if it detects a leak. The Glentronics Watchdog has a 110-decibel alert sound, which makes it louder than many of the more costly water leak detectors available.
Sensor wires extend up to 6 feet to protect hard-to-reach areas. You can also purchase additional sensors for added protection. On average, this water alarm runs up to five years on a 9-volt alkaline battery. However, the battery is not included, so the actual battery life could vary based on the battery you select.
Our favorite plug-in water leak detector
Eve Water Guard
Eve Water Guard is our top pick for plug-in water leak detector because the 6.5-foot sensing cable is extendable up to 490 feet. Unlike devices with spot-based sensors, Eve Water Guard devices are ideal for wide-range monitoring.
This is a great water leak detector for basements, bathrooms, kitchens, garages and other large rooms. Instead of using a battery, Eve Water Guard plugs directly into a standard electrical outlet. If it detects moisture, Eve immediately alerts you with a 100-decibel siren, text notifications and red flashing lights.
Eve Water Guard connects wirelessly through a low-energy Bluetooth connection. The detector is also enabled with HomeKit and sends alerts to your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Apple TV. You can even use AirPlay to sound an additional alarm on a different floor. You can view the device’s status, test the alarm and install updates through the Eve app.
Our favorite water leak detector with automatic shut off
Grohe Sense Guard Smart
Grohe Sense Guard Smart is one of our top picks because you can select from automatic, manual or remote shut-off functions to prevent and limit damage. Grohe monitors water pressure in pipes to detect minor leaks before a major pipe burst. Plus, it detects frost and unusual water pressure.
The smart water controller plugs into a standard electrical socket and requires wireless LAN to connect to the app. The water controller must be installed on a potable cold water line with a pipe that is less than an inch in diameter.
Grohe sensors require a Wi-Fi network, and the detector connects to the cloud to record temperature and humidity data. The device sends an alert to your phone if it detects a pipe break, microleak, frost or unusual water flow.
This Grohe bundle includes a water controller and three sensors. If the package kit is too pricey, you can purchase the sensors separately — an ideal solution if you only need to monitor a small room.
Our favorite HomeKit water leak sensor
Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor
The Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor combines leak detection with useful safety features to help you monitor and protect your home. With an Apple HomeKit hub, such as a HomePod, Apple TV or iPad, it’s easy to catch small leaks before they turn into big problems.
The Fibaro HomeKit leak sensor sends immediate notifications to Apple Home devices if it detects a leak or freeze. You can remotely access and control the device from your phone and check the status of water leaks and temperature with voice commands. The model also supports Z-Wave. With smart plugs, sensors can be programmed to cut power to leaky appliances at the first sign of leaks.
Fibaro HomeKit includes a sensor and one CR123A battery, which lasts up to two years. The Fibaro water leak sensor is easy to install, discreet and waterproof. Simply place it on any surface prone to water leaks or flooding and add the device to your Home Center.
Our favorite water leak detector for home emergencies
Govee Water Sensor
Govee Water sensor is our top pick for an emergency water leak detection sensor because of its sensitive water probes and wireless water alarm. The water alarm has two groups of back probes and one group of front probes to detect drips and leaks quickly. Systems include a smart app for notifications and remote monitoring.
This Govee package comes with a three-pack of water sensors. Govee systems are expandable and let you add up to 10 sensors for added protection. The sensors are easy to install because the device comes preinstalled with batteries that should last at least one year. To install, simply plug the gateway into an electrical socket and remove the sensors' insulating battery tabs. After the smart app connects your Wi-Fi gateway with your router, you can place the sensors wherever you like.
When a leak is detected, the sensors trigger an ultra-loud 100-decibel alarm. You also get notifications through text, email or the app. However, since this water leak detector doesn’t feature an automatic shut-off, it might not be ideal for those who want to monitor vacation homes. Please note: this device does not support 5 GHz Wi-Fi.
Our favorite underground water leak detector
2M Ultrasonic underground water leak detector
The 2M Ultrasonic underground water leak detector is a lightweight, hand-held device that detects leaks in steel pipe, PVC, PE and PEX pipes. The 2M Ultrasonic detector utilizes the same professional-grade technology that water supply companies, heating companies and construction companies use to detect leaks. This water leak detector for underground pipes is the most expensive pick on our list, but it comes with a two-year warranty and lifelong maintenance.
The kit includes a hosting component with a 7-inch HD touch screen, connecting wire, sensor, listening rods, earphones, charger and protective case. The detector requires two lithium-ion batteries (not included). You can select spectrum analysis or filtering analysis modes, record live and manage data through the touch screen.
Instead of installing moisture or flow sensors, you place the probe on the ground above where you want to check for leaks. You will hear a sound in the earphones when the device is near a leak source. The frequency increases up to 2,500 hertz as you get closer to the cause of a leak. The device is accurate for detecting leaks in pressure pipes made of any material within two meters of soft soil.
Water leak detector benefits
A water leak detector comes with many health, safety and cost benefits. Early leak detection helps prevent standing water, which can lead to mold growth and pest infestations. Some of the best water detectors have additional benefits that let you:
- Prevent costly repairs: If you can catch a leak early, you can prevent significant damage to your home and belongings. A small leak can be fixed rather quickly and inexpensively compared to an undetected leak, which often leads to paying for costly emergency repairs. A pricey call to an after-hours or emergency plumber can be avoided if you're alerted of a leak right away.
- Protect your home: Water leak detectors alert you of small leaks so you can prevent damage to your furniture, walls, floors, carpets, electronics and belongings. Without a water detector, you might not notice a leak until the damage is apparent because of strange odors, wall discoloration or sagging ceilings. Being notified at the start of a leak also reduces the chances of water pooling in one spot and turning into a breeding ground for unhealthy mold and mildew.
- Avoid safety risks: Foundation or plumbing leaks can cause flooding in your basement. If the water rises high enough to interact with electrical appliances or wall outlets, it can carry electrical currents over long distances. Homeowners risk electrocution by rushing into their basements to save items from water damage. Flooding can pose a fire risk if light fixtures or electrical wiring get wet.
- Lower insurance premiums: Homeowners across the country pay billions of dollars each year in water damage-related costs. If you've had leaks or flooding in your home before, your insurance provider may increase your premiums. Many insurance companies offer a discount on premiums to homeowners that install water leak detectors in their houses.
- Reduce utility bills: Most of the time, an unexpected hike in your water bill indicates a leak in your home. Water leak detectors alert you when water is being wasted before you get an unusually high utility bill.
- Remote monitoring: When water leaks happen while you're away, the water could cause significant damage before you have access to your water source and shut-off valves. Remote monitoring lets you check in on your water levels from anywhere and gives you quick and easy access to your shut-off valves and sensors in the event of an emergency.
Water leak detectors FAQ
- What is a water leak detector?
- A water leak detector is a system of sensors, valves and a central hub. Water detectors can be standalone devices or include probe water sensors. Standalone models sit on the ground, whereas detectors with probe water sensors connect to a cable and are better for fitting into tight spaces, such as behind water heaters. The best water leak detectors trigger a high-decibel alarm, send notifications to your smart devices and automatically shut off water to prevent damage.
- How much does a water leak detector cost?
- Water leak detector prices vary, but the average cost for a system is about $135. You can find water leak detectors as cheap as $10 or $20 or spend thousands on professional-grade equipment.
- How many water leak sensors should I get?
- The number of water leak sensors you should get depends on how much space you want to cover. Generally, it’s smart to put a sensor under each sink, washing machine, water heater and dishwasher. You may want to get extra sensors for additional high-risk areas. Some leak detector systems can support up to 30 sensors, while others are equipped to monitor five or less.
- Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
- Sometimes. Most home insurance policies cover water damage if the water was unexpected and came from within the home. If water damage is caused by neglect, insufficient maintenance or natural causes, you probably won't be covered. Installing a leak detector is one of the best ways to be proactive and prevent water damage.
- What causes water leaks?
- Loose water connectors, rapid temperature changes, clogged lines, broken seals and corrosion cause water leaks are the most common causes of water leaks. If you notice your utility bills are rising but can't pinpoint a water leak within your house, you may have an underground water leak. This could be caused by shifting soil, damage from pests or normal wear and tear.
- How do you install a water leak detector system?
- Water detection systems are usually installed by placing a sensor near any system or appliance that uses water. Integrating your smart water sensor with your devices is as easy as downloading an app. Some advanced systems may require the expertise of a plumber to sync the sensors and shut-off valve with your water main. Older homes and homes in areas prone to flooding can avoid costly damages by installing water leak detectors in areas where leaks are common.
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