Leak detection devices for the home

How Do Leak Detection Systems Work?

By the Mercury Team

Installing fire detectors and security systems are standard practices for homeowners. So why aren’t water leak detection systems more common? Affordable leak detection options that monitor your entire house are available. If you’re interested in water leak detection equipment, keep reading to discover what a leak detection system is, how to use a leak detector, and why it’s important to install one in your home.

What is a leak detection system?

As the name suggests, a leak detection system monitors your water pipes for any leaks. You can prevent or lessen water damage in your house using a home water leak detector. These detectors feature built-in sensors that monitor real-time water usage, identify leaks quickly, and send alerts to your smartphone when a problem occurs.

There are many types of water leak detection systems on the market. Here are two that the experts at Mercury recomend. Flo by Moen and Flume.


Flume is a detection device that attaches to your home’s water meter using an adjustable rubber strap. This design allows you to install it yourself without digging holes or cutting pipes. Once you fasten the sensor, you can track and reduce your water usage and receive leak alerts via the Flume smartphone app. Flume also offers insights on irrigation vs. non-irrigation usage and will provide more extensive details in the future as their AI develops. While Flume is more affordable than Flo, it lacks some of Flo’s advanced features, such as smart water shutoff.

Flo by Moen

Flo is a home water leak detector that’s installed on your main water supply line. Flo provides a better opportunity for mitigation and monitoring since the water coming into your home flows directly through the device. If a leak is detected, Flo will shut the water off automatically. You can also evaluate water flow, temperature, pressure, and water consumption via the Flo app on your smartphone. As long as you’re connected, the Flo app keeps you in full control of your home’s water system. However, Flo requires professional installation, and the upfront cost is higher.

Why install a leak detection system?

There are several reasons why leak detection equipment can be beneficial to your home.

  • Conserves water: Finding and fixing common home water leaks such as irrigation leaks, worn toilet flappers, and dripping faucets saves a lot of water. This is especially important in areas like California and Texas, where water is more of a concern. Some water districts provide rebates for water leak detection equipment like Flo and Flume because they detect large and small leaks, including hidden ones. Even small leaks waste a lot of water when you consider leaks across multiple homes in the district.
  • Saves money: Whether it’s a leak or not, the more water you use, the higher your bill. Though some leaks may only marginally impact your water bill, there are cases when the leaks add up. For example, a broken sprinkler you’re unaware of that’s leaking hundreds of gallons of water every week down the storm drain. You’re wasting money and tons of water. Installing a leak detection system keeps your water bill and usage in check.
  • Gives insight on water usage: Outside of detecting leaks, a device that records minute-by-minute water usage gives you insight into where you can save water. For example, you may need to take shorter showers or make changes to your irrigation cycles to mitigate water usage. This is important in states like California, where drought is a frequent issue.
  • Prevents mold: Whenever there’s water damage, your chances for mold go up. Even small leaks under the counter can accumulate mold over time if left unchecked. Exposure to mold poses serious health risks, including allergic reactions, skin rashes, and asthma attacks. Additionally, these effects worsen for infants, toddlers, seniors, and people with pre-existing conditions. A leak detection system can help stop mold growth before it starts, keeping you and your family safe.

How does a leak detection system work?

Water leak detection systems differ from brand to brand, but there are usually three key components you’ll find: sensors, shut-off valves, and a centralized hub.  

  • Sensors — These sensors use either ultrasonic wavelengths or mechanical turbines to measure the water passing through your pipes. Some sensors also monitor water temperature, which is useful for detecting frozen pipes. Some brands allow you to place their sensors in locations where leaks are possible, like under the kitchen sink. Other products — such as Flo and Flume — need to be installed as close to your home’s water entry point as possible.
  • Shut-off valve — Water leak detection devices such as Flo offer an integrated shut-off valve. With Flo, you have both remote and automatic options to trigger the shut-off valve to prevent catastrophe. With Flume, you have to shut off your water manually after you receive a leak alert.
  • Centralized hub — Whether you choose Flume or Flo, these smart water detection devices need to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi via a centralized hub. Once you plug the hub into a wall outlet, the sensors relay information to the system’s app through it. This setup is how you get complete control of your water system through your smartphone.

Where do I install a leak detection system?

Water leak detection devices such as Flo and Flume are point-of-entry systems, which means you need to install them as close to where the water enters your house as possible. This location gives the water less time to travel before reaching the leak detector, decreasing the likelihood of water damage. If you have a water filtration system or plan on getting one, it should occur after the leak detection system because the detector will catch any clogs or leaks from the filtration system.

There are also point-of-use leak detectors, which are the equivalent of smoke detectors for water leaks. Typically, you install point-of-use leak detectors under a sink or any place where there might be potential leaks. These detectors use sensors to capture leaks, which signals a loud alert just like a smoke detector.

How do I install a leak detection system?

Complex leak detection systems like Flo require professional installation from a licensed plumber. They’ll integrate the system into your main water line, which requires cutting pipes. It may seem like a lot of work, but this design allows you to shut off the water supply from your phone whenever a leak is detected.

If you don’t want to deal with cutting into your main water line, a water leak detection device such as Flume offers easy self-installation in under 10 minutes. You need to locate your water meter, attach the device using the included rubber strap, plug the centralized hub inside your home, and connect to the app on your smartphone.

Mercury Insurance Program

Are you interested in water leak detection equipment for your home? Mercury Insurance is one of the largest carriers to offer discounts for water shut-off devices. Currently, we have up to an 8% discount for automatic shut-off devices like Flo.

Speak with a Mercury agent today to see how you can save on water peril.


If you want to protect your home from catastrophe, installing a water leak detection system is a great place to start. Certain systems like Flo are serious investments, but they’re worth it to prevent or mitigate water damage and expensive repairs.

Talk with a Mercury Insurance agent today to find out how you can protect your home from potential water damage.


Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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