I get really upset when I spend money needlessly — paying a fine for missing a bill, not returning something to a store on time and ending up with store credit or worse, wasting food….
But then there are those times when I buy something that turns out to be worth way more than I paid for it.
This post is about one of those times.
The simple, inexpensive, invaluable purchase?
A simple water alarm.
Here’s the story. It’s pretty unbelievable.
I have told you all numerous times over the past months that I have been just inundated with so many things, and that I would update you all later on what they were.
Well, I’ll go into more detail in the future, but the catalyst for all of this was our decision to do a local move.
It came about quite suddenly–and we ended up doing it at just about the busiest time of my husband’s career (which I do NOT recommend), and then other things started happening that made it, well — let’s say an incredibly stressful time for us.
I’ll fill you in on the reasons for the move, and many of the other details down the road, but I really wanted to tell you all this story so that you all might benefit from what I learned.
During the inspection of the new home, we learned that the water heater at the new home was quite old — 14 years old, to be exact. Our home inspector strongly recommended that we replace it as soon as possible in order to avoid leakage into the mostly finished basement.
And seeing as I have a big problem with mold, I didn’t want any water problems.
While approaching the date of possession, we had a plumber give us estimates on replacing the heater, which turned out to be a little complicated. See, the water heater was in a pretty tight space, and we wanted a pan under it, with a hose leading from the heater to a floor drain.
In case you already didn’t know, those things are really important.
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Helpful Water Heater Leak Information
1. How Leaks Happen
When a water heater leaks, it typically does so at the seam on the bottom of the heater breaking. So water drips out of the bottom. Of course it’s possible for there to be an explosion, but there are ways to prevent that.
2. The Pan
Anyhow, if the water starts leaking out and you don’t notice it (and how often are you standing next to your water heater, especially if you’re not home or it’s the middle of the night), then you really want something under the heater to catch the water as it’s coming out. A plumber can install a pan for you that will catch the water as it leaves the water heater.
However, if there is more than just a little water in your heater (which is more likely than not), you need more than just the pan to catch the water
Ideally, you want a hose connected from the bottom of the water heater to a drain.
Back to Our Story
For several reasons, the hot water heater didn’t get installed prior to us moving in.
I was concerned. The house was ours, but we weren’t moving in for awhile.
The water heater was old and I don’t get along with mold well.
But the plumber was a bit hard to schedule, and then with the homeowner needing to get packed and get the house cleaned for our upcoming move date, they didn’t want us having the plumber in while they were doing preparation.
The plumber assured me that the heater should be okay since the homeowner had apparently drained the heater a number of times over the 14 year period, and that apparently extends the life of the heater.
So we waited.
I wasn’t thrilled (because I am pretty paranoid about water being in places where it shouldn’t be) but tried to be patient.
On February 13 we moved into the home–sort of.
We moved in with our “essentials” and a few mattresses, a table and chairs, and that’s about it. We were very excited to be in our new home and wanted to be in, even though many of our things would come later.
I contacted the plumber and he wasn’t that responsive. Something about his SD card getting damaged.
Feb 22, 2015: This is where the fun begins.
It was Sunday.
We decided to go to our church’s evening service.
We were about to head out the door when we heard a strange beeping.
I stood there with my shoes half-on, wondering where the noise was coming from.
Then I figured it out. It was the BASEMENT!
Something I’d pretty much forgotten about was beeping — and it was loud.
The Water Alarm
The little box sitting at the bottom of the water heater.
Water was leaking out of the water heater onto the floor – and had hit the wall next to the finished area of the basement. (The previous homeowner didn’t have a pan nor a hose for their water heater. This is a photo of what we have now.)
I yelled to my husband and sons asking them to get towels. And we didn’t have many since we’d just moved a few things in.
I basically used every towel and rag we had.
I messaged the plumber about the water leak and called another plumber we’d been talking to. Thankfully, the second plumber answered and walked me through what to do.
He said to get a garden hose, connect it to the water heater and run it to a drain and shut off the water to the heater.
Well, we hadn’t brought our garden hose with us so my husband ran to the home of the only neighbor we’d met and thankfully, someone was home.
We hooked up the hose and ran the other end to a drain and let the heater drain out.
Many minutes of sopping up water ensued, followed by fans and a dehumidifier running for a few days since a little water had gotten under a piece of wood.
We were so thankful — we tested the wall next to the water heater later (using this VERY handy moisture meter) and found no signs of moisture.
General Tools Digital Moisture Meter
This moisture meter has been so helpful to us over the years. You can use it to check the moisture levels of wood, wallboard, drywall, and masonry. It has no pins so you it doesn't damage surfaces when taking readings. Every home should have at least one of these!
This little water alarm seriously saved our basement.
Watchdog Water Alarm
Protect your home against dangerous water damage with this inexpensive and effective water alarm. Detects as little as 1/32 inches of water with a loud 110 decible alarm that can be heard throughout the house! Comes with a 6 foot wire for flexibility and can accommodate up to another 100 feet of wire.
We now have a water alarm in just about every place in the house where water might leak…..
under all of our sinks
under the washing machine
under the dishwasher (just remove the kick plate and put one underneath)
–we haven’t done it, but you could even put a water alarm against the wall of a basement if you’re worried about water coming in there and you could also put one under / next to your fridge. (The water is turned off to our fridge since we filter our water with something stronger than the fridge filters.)
About the dishwasher, just this year, 2 friends in my blogging world had their dishwashers leak and one of them had, if I remember correctly, over $70,000 in damages. Yikes!
Of course, if you’re not home, no one can hear the alarm, so I am considering purchasing this model that contacts you if it detects water. Before spending this much money, however, I want to make sure it will work the way I want it to so — I will report back on that when I get it done.
$12 well spent.
The moral of the story?
Better safe than sorry.
Get a pan.
And a hose.
And a water alarm. Or 2. Or 7…..
Have you ever heard of a water alarm?
Ever had a great purchase like this?