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Best water leak detectors

Protect your home from water damage with these 7 leak detectors

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Written by Diana Flowers
Edited by Justin Martino

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    eve water guard in laundry room
    Photo (c) Eve

    Left unchecked, small leaks under your water heater, washing machine or sink can cause significant problems (including structural and foundational damage) throughout your home or business. Modern water leak detectors instantly alert you to microleaks, frost and unusual water flow before these issues turn into broken pipes, a flooded basement or worse.

    Many users on our site have dealt with water leaks in their homes, like one reviewer from California, who ended up having to stay in a hotel for a week while repairs were made (fortunately, they had renters insurance).

    Our 7 top water detectors

    The best water leak detectors trigger a high-decibel alarm, send notifications to your smart devices and automatically shut off water to prevent damage. To pick our favorite water leak detectors available at the time of publishing, we considered essential water detection technology, alert types, price and customer reviews.

    All prices and information are accurate at the time of publication.

    Our picks

    Our favorite Wi-Fi water leak detector
    Resideo RCHW3610WF1001/N Wi-Fi Water Leak Detector

    resideo wifi water leak detector
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • Water-sensing cable expands coverage
    • $69

    BUY ON AMAZON

    This Resideo detector connects directly to your standard home Wi-Fi and doesn’t require a hub. Its sensors monitor temperature, humidity and moisture, and its cold detection can sense temperatures from 30 below zero to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

    You can install the Resideo Wi-Fi Water Leak Detector around water heaters and sump pumps, and the 4-foot cable sensor can extend the device’s capabilities, which is ideal for large areas like basements. 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

    zircon electronic water detector
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • 85-dB alarm
    • $45

    BUY ON AMAZON

    The Zircon Electronic Water Detector is fully automatic and does not require you to install any wiring. There’s no need to plug it into an outlet — simply pop in a new 9-volt battery (like the ones commonly used in smoke detectors) and place the detector face-down on the floor where you want to monitor for moisture.

    This electronic water leak detector comes in a three-pack for 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.

    During severe flooding, this Zircon 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 a few years. The device chirps to notify you when the battery is low.

    Our favorite budget water detector
    The Basement Watchdog by Glentronics

    glentronics watchdog
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • 110-dB alarm
    • $12.48

    BUY ON AMAZON

    Glentronics’ Basement Watchdog is easy to install and affordable and can effectively detect water and moisture in places it shouldn’t be. There aren’t many extra perks with the Glentronics Watchdog, but it’s useful for detecting problems before mold grows or costly water damage occurs.

    This leak detector is versatile and can be used in any room. It can detect as little as 1/32nd of an inch of water, and the alarm sounds for up to three days if it detects a leak. The Watchdog has a 110-decibel alert sound, which is louder than what many of the more costly water leak detectors offer.

    The device’s sensor wires extend up to 6 feet to protect hard-to-reach areas. You can also purchase additional sensors. The alarm runs on a 9-volt alkaline battery (not included).

    Our favorite water leak detector with automatic shut-off
    Grohe Sense Guard Smart

    grohe sense guard smart
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • Red light and buzzer notifications
    • $834.40

    BUY ON AMAZON

    With the Grohe Sense Guard Smart, 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 bursts. It also detects frost and unusual water pressure.

    The smart water controller plugs into a standard electrical socket and requires a wireless LAN to connect to the app. The water controller must be installed on a potable cold water line with a pipe that’s no larger 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 — this could be an ideal solution if you only need to monitor a small room.

    Our favorite HomeKit water leak sensor
    Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor

    fibaro homekit flood sensor
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • 71-dB alarm
    • $49.99

    BUY ON AMAZON

    The Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor combines leak detection with useful safety features to help you monitor and protect your home. If you have an Apple Home smart device (like a HomePod, Apple TV or iPad), it’s easy to catch small leaks before they turn into big problems.

    The Fibaro HomeKit sensor immediately alerts your device if it detects a leak or freeze. You can remotely access and control the device from your phone and check the status of leaks and temperature issues with voice commands.

    The sensor is also compatible with Z-Wave technology. Using smart outlets, the sensors can be programmed to cut power to leaky appliances at the first sign of any issues.

    This Fibaro detector includes the water leak sensor and one CR123A battery. The sensor is discreet and easy to install; simply place it on any surface prone to water leaks or flooding and connect it with your Apple Home device.

    Our favorite water leak detector for home emergencies
    Govee Water Sensor

    govee water sensor
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • 100-dB alarm
    • $54.99

    BUY ON AMAZON

    This Govee water sensor has sensitive water probes and a wireless water alarm. The alarm has two groups of probes in the back and one group of probes in the front, which helps it detect drips and leaks quickly. The system includes a smart app for notifications and remote monitoring.

    Govee systems are expandable and let you add up to 10 water sensors for more thorough protection (this package comes with a three-pack of sensors). The device comes with batteries.

    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. If a leak is detected, the sensors will trigger an alarm and notifications through text, email or the app.

    Please note: This device doesn’t feature automatic shut-off or support 5 GHz Wi-Fi.

    Our favorite underground water leak detector
    2M Ultrasonic underground water leak detector

    ultrasonic underground water leak detector
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    PRODUCT DETAILS
    • 7-inch HD touch screen
    • $1,395

    BUY ON AMAZON

    The 2M Ultrasonic underground water leak detector is a lightweight, hand-held device that detects leaks in steel, PVC, PE and PEX pipes. It employs the same professional-grade technology water supply, heating and construction companies use to detect leaks.

    This detector is intended for underground pipes and is the most expensive on our list, but it comes with a two-year warranty.

    The kit includes a hosting component with a 7-inch high-definition touch screen, connecting wire, sensor, sound pole, earphones, charger and protective case, and the detector requires a lithium-ion battery (included). You can select spectrum analysis or filtering analysis modes, record live and manage data through the touch screen.

    Rather than installing moisture or flow sensors, you’ll place the probe on the ground above where you want to check for leaks. You’ll 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 issue.

    The device can detect leaks in pressure pipes made of any material within two meters of soft soil.

    Compare water leak detectors

    Any good water leak detector helps catch small leaks before they cause significant damage. Automatic shut-off features are best if you want to instantly cut your water source at the first sign of a leak, and temperature sensors are a good idea if you live in an area where pipes are prone to freezing.

    Temperature sensorAutomatic shut-offBattery lifePrice
    Resideo Wi-Fi Water Leak Detector3 years$$
    Zircon Electronic Water Detector3 to 4 years$$
    Glentronics Watchdog5 years$
    Grohe Sense Guard Smart4 years$$$
    Fibaro HomeKit Flood Sensor2 years$$
    Govee Water Sensor1 year$$
    2M Ultrasonic2 years$$$$
    Temperature sensor
    Automatic shut-off
    Battery life3 years3 to 4 years5 years4 years2 years1 year2 years
    Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    How does leak detection work?

    Water sensors detect and prevent excess moisture and flooding caused by broken pipes and faulty appliances. A leak detection system typically has 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 leak detector systems trigger an alarm if they detect moisture. Some leak detectors also monitor for changes in acoustics. Since all leaks create soundwaves, a detector can gauge the severity of a leak by the frequency it produces.

    Water leak damage can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs.

    Knowing there’s a leak is one thing, but being able to stop it from damaging your home and belongings is where the real power lies. Many modern detectors combine moisture sensors and leak detection to 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.

    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 sensors detect.

    Water leak detectors also help prevent damage caused by tree roots and rapid or extreme temperature changes, which can be difficult to discover on your own before it’s too late.

    How to choose a water leak detector

    Even budget leak detectors should be easy to install and have a loud alarm. It’s a good idea to look for a detector with a 70- to 100-decibel alarm, but you may want one that’s even louder if you have trouble hearing (for context, the average smoke alarm is about 90 decibels).

    Many of the best water leak detectors include components like smart integrations, automatic shut-off and temperature sensors. Other features to look for: expandability, extended battery life, freeze sensors, plug-in sensors, easy installation and lights.

    Expandability

    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.

    Extended battery life

    Most smart leak detectors plug directly into an 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 a good idea to invest in a smart water leak detector with extended battery life. Some batteries last up to 10 years.

    Freeze sensors

    Low temperatures can cause plumbing fixtures and pipes to freeze. When pipes freeze, they expand — and when they expand, they can burst, resulting in a cold, expensive and overwhelming mess.

    If you live in an area where frozen pipes are common, consider investing in a system that detects and alerts you to freezing temperatures.

    Plug-in sensors

    Basic water sensors alert you only if the primary sensor detects water, but systems with multiple plug-in sensors let you widen your coverage area. Plug-in sensors help cover more ground and monitor more space.

    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.

    Sometimes water leak detector installation requires a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. A plumber may need to help if you have a more advanced system with automatic shut-off features.

    Lights

    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.

    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 offer the following additional benefits:

    • Prevent costly repairs:  A small leak can be fixed quickly and inexpensively compared with an undetected leak, which often leads to costly emergency repairs. An after-hours call for an emergency plumber can be avoided if you discover a leak right as soon as it occurs.
    • Protect your home: Water leak detectors can prevent damage to your furniture, walls, floors, carpets, electronics and belongings. Without a detector, you might not notice a leak until the damage is apparent due to strange odors, wall discoloration or sagging ceilings.
    • 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 these currents over long distances. Homeowners risk electrocution by rushing to save items from water damage, and flooding can pose a fire risk if light fixtures or electrical wiring get wet.
    • Lower insurance premiums: If you've had leaks or flooding in your home before, your insurance provider may increase your premiums. Many homeowners insurance companies offer a discount for those who proactively install water leak detectors in their houses.
    • Reduce utility bills: An unexpected hike in your water bill is a good indicator of a leak in your home. Water leak detectors alert you to wasted water before you get an unusually high utility bill.
    • Remote monitoring: If a leak happens while you're away, the water could cause significant damage before you return. 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 detector FAQ

    What is a water leak detector?
    A water leak detector is typically a system of sensors, valves and a central hub that functions either as a standalone device or with the help of probes. Standalone models sit on the ground; detectors with probe sensors connect to a cable and are better for tight spaces, such as behind water heaters.
    How much does water leak detection cost?
    Water leak detector prices vary, but you can find these devices from $10 to $20 up to a few hundred dollars — or you can 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. As a general rule, it’s smart to put a sensor under each sink, washing machine, water heater and dishwasher. You may want extra sensors for other high-risk areas.

    Some leak detector systems can support up to 30 sensors, while others are equipped to monitor five or fewer.

    Is a water leak covered by homeowners insurance?
    Most home insurance policies cover water damage if the water was unexpected and came from within the home. If the damage is due to neglect, insufficient maintenance or natural causes, you probably won't be covered unless you opted for flood insurance. Installing a detector is a good way to be proactive and prevent damage.
    What causes water leaks?
    Loose water connectors, rapid temperature changes, clogged lines, broken seals and corrosion are the most common causes of water leaks. If you notice your utility bills are rising but can't find a leak in your home, you may have an underground water leak caused by shifting soil, damage from pests or normal wear and tear.
    How do you install a water leak detector?
    To install a water detection system, you typically place a sensor near any system or appliance that uses water. Integrating a smart water sensor with your devices is often as easy as downloading an app.

    Some advanced systems require a plumber to sync the sensors and shut-off valve with your water main.

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      Bottom line

      The most significant benefit of investing in a water leak detector is knowing you’re protected from potential water damage, like mold, sagging structures and other foundational issues. Not only can this damage wreck your home — it can also wreck your wallet if left unchecked.

      If you know your home has plumbing issues, it’s worth it to buy a leak detector so you’re alerted immediately to any flooding problems. There are plenty of reasonably priced devices (including high-tech models) out there to keep you and your home protected.

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