News Columns & Blogs

Leak detection prevents damage

As an insurance agent for more than 27 years, I have dealt with my share of water losses. It can be costly for the insurance company, but more importantly, it can be very upsetting and stressful for the insured. Water damage can occur almost anywhere in your home. Water-using appliances and fixtures, such as refrigerators with icemakers, dishwashers, washing machines, toilets and water heaters, are common locations of leaks.

Unfortunately, slow leaks at these appliances and fixtures are often impossible to see until it is too late. If it goes undetected, a slow leak can lead to rotting house framing and subfloors and can be a precursor to a catastrophic leak that can release several gallons of water per minute, causing extensive water damage.

The good news is that in many cases, water leaks can be prevented and/or detected before any major damage occurs. If you are a seasonal resident, you may want to consider turning off your water before you leave for any extended period of time. You should also have someone checking on your property at least weekly or bi-weekly for any sign of water leaks.

Another way to prevent water losses is through water leak detection systems. There are two types: passive and active.

Passive leak detection systems are intended to alert you to a leak. They generally sound an audible alarm tone, and some also may feature a flashing light. Passive systems are frequently battery-operated, stand-alone units. They are inexpensive and easy to install. Some simply sit on the floor while others may be wall mounted. A moisture sensor is located on the floor and activates the alarm when it becomes wet. Passive leak detection systems are especially useful in locations where it is easy for someone to hear the alarm such as near refrigerators, dishwashers, or toilets.

Active leak detection systems usually generate some type of alarm, but also perform a function that will stop the water flow. They feature a shut-off valve and some means to determine that a leak is occurring. Most devices use moisture sensors to detect a leak. Other systems use a flow sensor and a timer to determine that something is leaking and the water needs to be turned off.

An individual appliance system, which costs $50 to $150, detects a leak from a specific appliance, such as a washing machine or water heater, and shuts off the water supply to that appliance only. You can often install these systems without the use of special tools. A whole house system, which costs $1,000 to $5,000, sends an alarm when a leak is detected and automatically shuts off the main water service. Some models also can be integrated with a local or central station security system.

To find out more information on preventing waters leaks and detection systems, visit my website at In the search box, just enter “preventing water leaks.” A few minutes of preparation and prevention can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Wayne Scroggins, president and owner of Scroggins Insurance Agency, 6505 Cortez Road, Bradenton, can be reached at (941) 795-1500.