Best water leak detectors for smart homes

Fire might be a homeowner’s greatest fear, but any insurance company will tell you that water is the far more common cause of property damage, even if you don’t live in an area subject to flooding. And it can come from many sources: A failing water heater, a burst pipe, a broken supply line under your sink, a clogged toilet, or even a split hose connected to your washing machine.

Just as it’s essential to have a smoke detector in each of your home’s bedrooms and common areas, you’d be wise to install leak detectors in places where water damage could start: The laundry room, water heater closet, the bathroom, under your kitchen sink, and so on. Leak alerts are arguably less important for renters, but it’s something landlords might want to consider—although that raises the issue of how the sensors would connect to the internet. More on that later.

If you think a leak sensor is something your home should have, here are our top picks. If you want more information on this topic and want to read more reviews, scroll down a bit.

Updated June 1, 2020 to add our Flo by Moen Smart Water Detector review. In addition to detecting and nearly instantaneously alerting you to the presence of water in locations it shouldn’t be, this sensor will also monitor the relative humidity of the space around its installation (warning you of conditions with the potential to spur mold growth) and ambient temperature (prompting you to take action if cold weather might freeze your water pipes). If you have one installed, it will also trigger a Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff to turn off your main water supply to reduce the damage an uncontrolled leak can cause. It’s our new top pick in this category.

Best smart water leak detector

The Flo by Moen Smart Water Detector monitors for the presence water in locations it shouldn’t be (from a leaky supply line, appliance, or drain pipe), tracks ambient temperatures and can warn you of freezing conditions that could lead to a burst water pipe, and reports ambient humidity and raises an alarm if the air becomes so moist that it could lead to to the growth of mold. You’ll get the most benefit from the device if you also own the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff, which can automatically turn off your water supply in an emergency, but it’s a great smart home device even if you don’t.

Runner-up

This was a tough call, because the Utilitech Water Leak Detector has some major downsides. Its battery life only lasts for a year, and the sensor must be mounted on a wall or other vertical surface, making setup a hassle and limiting your placement options.

On the other hand, it costs just $30, you can deploy them in multiples, and it works with most Z-Wave smart-home hubs. Utilitech is a Lowe’s brand, so we tested with the since-discontinued Iris by Lowe’s system. 

Honorable mention

What sets the Waxman LeakSmart’s hub-based sensor apart from others is that the company also manufactures a smart water shut-off valve ($135 at Amazon), which we did not test (most people would want to have that component professionally installed). Still, it’s a huge draw over other sensors that either require more elaborate valve setups or don’t offer those controls at all.