ST and Sense Saved My Butt
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19 posts in this topic

SmartThings and my Sense energy monitor saved my basement the other day.

I was awoken by the alarm sounding off at 3:00 AM. When that happens a recorded message plays through the Aerotec doorbell, all the lights in the house come on, and if it's a security alert then the siren will sound. In this case it wasn't an intruder alert or perimeter security breach. It was a leak in my water system.

A PVC fitting (check valve) broke (split at the threaded connection) and was gushing water at 60 PSI and about 3 GPM. I have three of the IRIS 2G leak detectors spread around the basement at potential problem areas. The mechanical room where the water heater and boiler are, over by the water treatment system where the line from our well enters the house, and by the air handler and AC coil where there is a condensate reservoir and pump which collects water from condensation on the AC coil or from the dehumidifier in the Summer. All three of these are set to send an alarm to my phone and to sound a local alarm in the house and turn on the lights.

By the time I got downstairs in the basement I had about 50 gallons of water on the floor [that's based on how much water we hauled out during cleanup]. When I went back through the notification list in the ST App I saw that the first leak detection was at 2:55AM at the well pump. The second leak detector by the air handler tripped a couple minutes later. There is a sump in the floor next to the well tank and water treatment system, but we don't have a sump pump in it and have never needed it in 22 years and the previous owners didn't have one either. It's not really big enough to do much, it's just a piece of 12 inch square clay flue lining set in the concrete and filled with stone. I don't know how deep it goes as I've never dug out the stone, no reason to.

But apparently the leak started minutes earlier because the Sense energy monitor sent an alert at 3:05 that the well pump had been running for over 15 minutes continuously. I set that up to let me know either A - the sprinkler system was running or B - there was a failure in the domestic water system, either of which are the only two scenarios I could think of where the pump would run more than 15 minutes. So 15 minutes after the pump came on I got the alert from the Sense app on the phone, and it came within a minute of the SmartThings app alerting me of the leak detector trips. I believe the delay in the ST leak detection was due to the water initially running down into the sump so it didn't set off the leak detector when the leak first occurred. I guess once the sump became saturated with water and it started backing up is when the flooding of the floor began. Ironically if IRIS were still up and running I would have found out much sooner as I had a different leak detector, the Utilitech which has a remote sensor, installed with the sensor down in the sump. But that sensor does not work under SmartThings so I had substitute one of the IRIS 2G Leak detectors.

Came down in the basement and saw what the situation was. Luckily the split was on the side facing the wall and all the water was spraying into the corner and not across the room so no water damage to anything up high just some stuff that was on the floor in the area near the pump. I couldn't shut off the pump at the disconnect switch because the area had standing water on the floor. So had to go to the breaker panel on the other side of the house and open the breaker before it was safe to enter the area. I shut off a 1-1/4 valve that isolates the house and the well tank from the well so I was able to hold back all that water from draining into the basement. That meant I only had a small volume of water in a few feet of pipe from the valve to where the line comes in the house and there is a check valve. It was that check valve which split and was the cause of the leak. The valve was as old as the house as far as I know. We've been here 22 years and I have not replaced it. Was part of the original plumbing as far as I know. Anyway it is PVC and has a FM threaded connection at each end. PVC FM threaded fittings are something to be avoided in my book. You can never get them tight because the PVC stretches so easily and you end up overtightening them.

Spent the next 4 hours sucking up water and hauling damaged stuff outside to take to the dump. Mostly junk we didn't need anyway and some area rugs on the concrete floor so no real loss in dollars.

If I hadn't had all 'that stupid electronics stuff' deployed as SHMBO was fond of telling me we most likely would have had much greater damage. The pump would not have stopped until the flooding reached the disconnect switch or the breaker panel and shorted them out. I don't see what else would have stopped it from running for hours had I not been home. If it had happened during the day and we were both at work or away who knows how long or how many thousands of gallons of water would have filled the basement. Basement is roughly same footprint as the house so about 2100 SF. That's a lot of water before you reach the breaker panel and start tripping breakers.

I think I may add a NC float switch in line with the pressure switch so that as long as the float switch is not tripped by high water the pump will run. But should this happen again the float in the sump would interrupt the power to the pump and stop the worst of the flooding.

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Wow Sparc it sounds like it could have been worse for sure.  Let me tell you what I have done with my system.  I had this working on SmartThings and now on Hubitat.  I have 17 leak sensors in the house.  Every sink, toilet, water treatment equipment, water heater, well pressure tank and any appliance that touches water in the house.  I have a GE 240 volt Z-Wave switch on the well pump.  I also have my Rachio sprinkler system paired to my hub.  If I get a leak anywhere, the well pump shuts off, the RO pump shuts off, the hot water recirculation pump shuts off and the Rachio sprinkler system opens Zone 14 which drains the 80 gallon pressure tank in minutes.  My Hue bulbs all turn on and turn blue.  I then get a text and push telling me which leak detector set off this chain of events.  That'll help you with that breaker panel trip.

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Oh, I like the drain idea. I wonder if the GE 240 volt switches are still available.

I would like to be able to interrupt the power to the pump. And your tank drain idea is good too.

I was thinking of something independent of ST or any HA system, something more foolproof that will always work no matter what.

A self-contained float switch seems like it would accomplish that. But I am still open to adding the GE 240V switch. I toyed with getting on a couple years ago just to have it and now I wish I did.

Did a quick search and they are still out there. I may get one even if I do go with the float switch.

I looked in the ST app but didn't see this particular switch from GE (or JASCO who actually makes the switch) listed. SO not sure it is compatible. How did you get it to work with ST Otto?

Thanks for the ideas Otto. Stay dry. 🙂

On order, should be here tomorrow. 🙂 Amazon had the best price + free shipping.

I wouldn't mind having one of those 40A 240V switches for my shop. I could put it in line with the sub-panel and be able to shut down all the power to tools when not in the shop.

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3 hours ago, sparc said:

I looked in the ST app but didn't see this particular switch from GE (or JASCO who actually makes the switch) listed. SO not sure it is compatible. How did you get it to work with ST Otto?

Thanks for the ideas Otto. Stay dry. 🙂

On order, should be here tomorrow. 🙂 Amazon had the best price + free shipping.

oI wuldn't mind having one of those 40A 240V switches for my shop. I could put it in line with the sub-panel and be able to shut down all the power to tools when not in the shop.

It pairs as an energy reporting Z-Wave Switch and is Z-Wave plus.  I love mine.  It comes in its own electrical box.  You just let SHMBO know that now is time to ramp up the automation not to cut back.  If this stuff was in place you could have just looked at your phone, rolled over and gone back to sleep and dealt with fixing the leak in the morning and with none of the damage that you did encounter. 😎😎

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I have leak sensors all over the house tied back to my Leaksmart valve and have been meaning to put in a kill switch for the well pump. I was going to use a smart outlet to a solid state relay, but just never got around to cobbling together all the parts. I should probably just bite the bullet and get the GE 40A switch...just always seemed like overkill for the job.

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Be careful where you install a shutoff valve when you are dealing with a well.  If you have it between the pressure switch and the well you will have a big problem if it ever shuts off and the pressure switch is calling for water.  With the GE 40A switch you don't need a shutoff valve.  Just make sure you install the switch between the breaker and the pressure switch.  Also Intermatic makes one that is similar and cheaper but I don't think that it is Z-Wave Plus

 

https://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-CA3750-Multi-Volt-120-277VAC-Contactor/dp/B000YUCES2/ref=sr_1_10?keywords=intermatic+z-wave+switch&qid=1582749438&sr=8-10

 

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Thanks Otto, I'm well aware of the issue isolating the pressure switch from the pump would create. But good it's in this thread now for anyone else coming along later and reading this. My thoughts on the valve were to be able to prevent the 60 gallon tank from draining out on the floor and also to be able to hold back the water in the lines throughout the house.

I ordered the GE switch Tuesday afternoon and had it yesterday, so not looking at other brands.

But I did not find the GE 240V switch listed in ST as a recognized device so I am wondering if you had any problems connecting it to the ST hub.

 

I going to look into adding a zone to my Orbit sprinkler controller to add an emergency drain as you did Otto. I like that idea. My lawn only uses 6 of the 12 zones on the controller so no problem adding it in.

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4 hours ago, sparc said:

But I did not find the GE 240V switch listed in ST as a recognized device so I am wondering if you had any problems connecting it to the ST hub.

I going to look into adding a zone to my Orbit sprinkler controller to add an emergency drain as you did Otto. I like that idea. My lawn only uses 6 of the 12 zones on the controller so no problem adding it in.

Not to worry Sparc, It'll pair right up.  It's just a Z-Wave switch and will be seen as such.  Additionally, it measures energy usage and you will be able to see that.  Just to be clear with the sprinkler system to drain the tank, there is no need to use a currently unused zone.  In fact you want to use a zone that is connected.  Pick one that has bubblers or a zone that doesn't require a lot of pressure to open up to drain the tank.  It will show up as a switch in SmartThings and you just turn it on for 10 or 15 minutes and then turn it off.  The water will run into the yard or garden and not the house.  My current rule is in Hubitat which uses a rule maker and looks different but you can accomplish the same thing in SmartThings.  I will post a screen shot of it below so that you can use it to help you construct your rule or rules in SmartThings.  The Leak Alexa switch just turns on an Alexa contact switch that has all of my Alexa devices announce that a leak has occurred.

Capture.PNG

And this is the rule that tells me which device started the chain reaction of events above.

Capture1.PNG

 

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Thanks Otto. OK on the sprinkler setup. But for me my sprinkler system is blown out every Fall and not needed back in service until the end of May. So if I use an active zone I'm sending water into a potentially empty line which then I would have to worry about freezing if it was winter time.

I was thinking of using a new zone so I can set everything up inside the basement and pitch the pipe to the outside so there will never be standing water in the line outside where it could freeze. Have to buy another zone valve but that's not a big deal. But I think it would be better to use a control valve that's designed for domestic water use and not a sprinkler system. I don't think sprinkler piping and components have to meet NSF-61 and UPC codes like pipe and fittings used on potable water do. And that would mean a fail on a home inspection for a sale which will happen in the next few years. Or take it out before the home inspection is another option. 

Do the LeakSmart Valves work with SmartThings? I see Lowes still has a few of those available.

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" I have 17 leak sensors in the house"

Otto what leak detectors are you using.

The v2 model is the one that was rebranded and sold by Iris.

I'm looking at getting some of these, they're ~$35 each and use the CR2 batteries which I have a ton of after taking all my iris gear that wouldn't run with ST offline. 

This is version 3. I have the the version 2 now and they have worked well and batteries last a long time.

https://centralite.com/products/water-sensor

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Those will work but you can get the SmartThings latest sensor at Best Buy right now for $19.95 and they will detect water hitting them from the top.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?st=SMARTTHINGS+LEAK+SENSOR&_dyncharset=UTF-8&_dynSessConf=&id=pcat17071&type=page&sc=Global&cp=1&nrp=&sp=&qp=&list=n&af=true&iht=y&usc=All+Categories&ks=960&keys=keys

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Thanks to you both. I was looking at the Centralite because they used the CR2 batteries and I have a bunch of those with lots of life left in them. 

But I want 5 more water sensors and the savings of $17 each for the Samsung sensor over the Centralite is too big to ignore.

Looks like I'm going with the Samsung sensors.

I'll have to buy something else that uses CR2 batteries so the 50 I have don't go to waste. 🙂

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I bought 5 of the Samsung sensors, wish I had got double that. I deployed the 5 I had in addition to the 4 I already have in the system. They are much nicer than the Centralite  which Lowes rebranded and sold under the Iris name.

The contacts on the top and perfect for soldering leads to and adapting them to serve some other purpose. The price is right at ~$18.

I will get some more. I can see using one to connect to a glass breakage detector from my old hard-wired alarm system on the slider and a couple other applications.

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