Dave and Liz Carlson had closed up their summer home for the winter. Everything seemed in order, until one day they received a call from their security system. Apparently, someone had broken into the empty home. The police were dispatched. Surprisingly, what they discovered was not a burglary but several inches of water blanketing the floor. The water had shorted the security system. n Although the Carlsons had installed water sensors in their home, there were none close enough to detect the flood in the family room. Had there been one, it would have signaled their burglar alarm immediately—and the Carlsons might have been able to save their floor.
Beyond Closed Doors
Most security systems come with a set number of sensors for the doors and windows, But that might not be nearly enough to completely protect your home. For top-to-bottom security, be sure that every exterior door and window gets a sensor. For an extra blanket of security, place a motion sensor in a couple of spots where an intruder would be likely to pass, such as the family room and a stairway to the second level.
Now back to the Carlsons – They and other families tend to forget about all those other problems that can crop up at home. Mishaps like backed-up toilets, finicky furnaces and broken sump pumps are more likely to happen than an honest-to-goodness break-in or house fire. They can also cause thousands of dollars worth of damage, especially when you don’t even know they’re happening.
Here’s where environmental sensors can help – There are many different types of environmental sensors that you can use in your home. The most popular are water detectors, temperature detectors and power outage detectors.
Water Detectors – Some manufacturers of home security systems offer water detectors to complement their standard fare of burglary and fire detectors. When water makes contact between the two metal tips of the sensor, the sensor transmits a signal to the security system, which can be programmed to call you on your cell phone or to sound an alarm. If the manufacturer of your chosen security system offers no water sensors, stand-alone sensors can be easily added to the system by a professional installer. Professional security installers recommend putting water sensors underneath sinks, near washing machines, water heaters and toilets and by each water pan and drain location.
Of course, you may not always be able to race home to patch a leaky pipe. That’s when a shut-off device can come in handy. Installed on your home’s main water line, it turns off the water entering your home automatically when a sensor feels water on the floor.
Temperature Detectors – It doesn’t take long for a broken furnace or a power outage to put a home into a deep freeze. When unattended for too long, a cold home can raise havoc by causing pipes to freeze and burst, for example. By the same token, when the A/C dies, an extremely warm house can wipe out plants and an expensive wine collection.
Temperature sensors continually monitor the highs and lows of attics, greenhouses, wine cellars and other temperature-sensitive areas. When the temperature exceeds the sensor’s set points, it signals a security system to call you or to activate a space heater or a room air conditioner until you get home.
Power Outage Detectors – A lengthy power outage can turn the inside of a refrigerator or freezer into mush. Just like a water or temperature sensor, a power outage sensor gives you a heads-up to potential problems at your home. Most power outage sensors are a snap to install. Simply plug them into any outlet on the circuit that needs to be monitored.
It’s not difficult to know what’s happening at home, even when you’re hundreds of miles away. With the help of a security system and water, temperature and power outage sensors, you can be alerted to potentially harmful events. If the security system happens to communicate events to a secure web site (many do), you can even see what’s happening and adjust settings at your home to help minimize the damage.