In the Boston area, where homes are old and winters are cold, burst pipes are a costly and almost inevitable home disaster. That’s what motivated Dan Sterling to create Water Hero, an automatic, wireless leak detector and emergency shutoff system that can be retrofitted to a home’s water supply.
Water Hero’s components attach to the outside of a home’s existing plumbing equipment, so there’s no need for a specialist to install it. All it takes is a nearby outlet and a WiFi connection.
The leak detector cleverly piggybacks on the design of water meters, which contain magnets that spin as water passes through. Water Hero’s sensor straps to the outside of the meter and detects those magnetic fluctuations, each of which corresponds to a discrete amount of water flowing into the home. Wired to the leak detector is a mechanical actuator that clamps over the emergency shutoff valve, allowing Water Hero to shut the water off completely -- either autonomously or remotely, by the user, through a mobile app.
When Water Hero senses flow patterns that correspond with either a slow leak or a burst pipe -- low, continuous flow or high, sustained flow outside of the user’s parameters -- the system can send alerts or take action on its own. Users can adjust the presets so that the water won’t cut out just because someone takes a shower while the dishwasher’s running, and an “away” mode can protect a vacant home by turning up the sensitivity. Additional features include temperature and humidity sensors, which add an extra layer of protection against frozen pipes and water damage.
There are two major prerequisites for early adopters of Water Hero: The utility’s water meter must be inside the house, and the main shutoff valve has to use a lever instead of a wheel. Sterling’s team hopes to make future versions compatible with wheel valves and suitable for use outdoors.
Water Hero completed a successful Kickstarter last month, and should begin shipping in fall 2015. The developers are already working on other products to detect sump pump failures and gas leaks. Check out the video below to learn more.