How To Prevent Water Leak Damage (And Best Automatic Shut Off Valves)

by | Smart Devices

There are many stories about sudden pipe bursts in the night or massive water leaks that caused thousands in damages and months of the insurance claim stress. Very often those accidents would ruin childhood photos, toys and other important possessions with precious memories. Automatic water shut off valve is a simple device to help you never to experience that in your life. They came down significantly in costs and now are one of the most practical and beneficial smart home devices. In this article, we tested and reviewed existing options on the market and giving you three most practical options for automatic shut off valves with key information on how to install and use.

Automatic water shut-off valve explained

What is an automatic shut off valve?
  • Each house has a valve (usually a ball valve) on the water pipe that comes from utility company to your home. The shut-off valve is basically an add-on or a replacement of your valve and can quickly shut off the water supply in the case of emergency. The automatic valves different from “dumb” ones for the ability to close based on a signal from your smart home or a leak sensor.
  • They are not just useful for avoiding water leak damages but may be extremely useful for your vacation homes or rental properties.
  • It is important to combine any water leak shut off valves with leak sensors (our favorite is Fibaro Zwave Leak sensor ($33)). See more in our Review of 9 best smart sensors
What are the main benefits?
  • Prevent damage to your house from water leaks from pipe bursts and other plumbing issues
  • Peace of mind for holidays homes and rental properties
  • Help to operate valves that are difficult to access
  • Can be used to automate water supply for sprinklers
How do they work?
They are simple devices – as soon as the signal received (which can be through wires or wireless), an electric motor turns the valve to the closed position
Can I install the valve myself?
It depends on the valve you decided to go for. Overall, all automatic smart valves can be divided into two categories:

  • Separate automatic valves – the valves that would replace or added to the existing valves. For mains automatic valves, this would usually require plumbers to help with the installation as you will need to amend existing pipeworks.
  • Retrofit add-on – those are the additial motors that you will install on top of your valve. When the signal received, the valve motor would turn your existing valves on and off using the existing valve handles and pipes. This type of valves you can usually install yourself.
Are water leak shut offs safe?
We would consider automatic valves to be very safe devices. They cannot flood you by opening valves provided that your plumbing is in a good condition. The only damage they can do is not to work when intended, but this is an inherent risk with any device (not only smart home) and for the best of the valves (like our recommended options) the chances of that are event slimmer.

Do not forget about leak sensors

Remember that in the majority cases you will need to buy a couple of water leak sensors to ensure that your entire house is fully covered from the risks of water leak damage. You would normally install sensors under each sink and toilet in the bathrooms, near washing machines and under the kitchen sink Our recommended sensor is Fibaro Zwave Leak sensor ($33). See more in our Review of 9 best smart sensors

Our selection of best automatic water shut off valves

OUR PICK

Dome water shut off valve is Zwave based valve with a great build quality and price

BEST FOR LAUNDRY ROOM

MyGuard Laundry shut off valve is a one-piece solution never be a victim of water leak from your washing machine

EASY CHOICE

Guardian Leak Prevention System has superior build and comes with three sensors, two probes and very high price

Top pick for automatic shut off valve: Dome water shut off valve

Our top pick is Z-wave Water Valve Shut off by Dome. There are a number of good quality water shut off devices on the market, but it is the one from Dome that combines ease of installation, robust build and ability to use other Z-wave devices and smart hubs for additional functionality. The latter is especially welcome as it removes limitations of the perpetuity sensors and allows to set up rules to automatically shut off and on if you are leaving or coming back from holidays. This is a great product for each household allowing owners to have peace of mind but also great for holiday homes or rental properties.

We like:

  • Z-wave compatible so no need to be near a possible leak point
  • Robust quality of the parts
  • Super easy single tool installation over existing valves without needing a plumber
  • Good support from Dome

Meh:

  • Torque might be weak for some main water shutoff valve
  • Need to have at least 5 inches on both sides for adequate movement and strap down
  • DC power cord could be longer

Features

Dome water shut off valve is basically an add-on to your existing ball valve. Its control arm turns quarter-turn ball valve up to 1-1-1/2 in size on and off based on the Z-wave signals. Three main parts of the device are a motor assembly which is a motor that turns the valve, mounting bracket to attach it to your valve and the control arm which is mounted on your valves’ handle to control it.

Installation

The installation process is extremely easy. All you need is a screwdriver and you can do it under half an hour. First of all, make sure that your valve is comfortably usable by hand. Loosen the installation clamps for both mounting bracket and control arm and attach to your pipes and valve handle. Next is important – make sure that both the valve and Water Main shut-off are aligned. Once achieved, tighten the clamps and test the unit pressing open/close button. That is it! If in trouble, consult the manual which is very well written. Also, note that it is easier to install if you have at least 5″ between the centerline of the ball valve actuator and the nearest pipe fitting. To pair with your Zwave hub you need to follow its instructions, but on the devic,e you need to press the “open/close” button on the Shut-Off quickly 3 times in a row when prompted.

Use

Water shut off valves are not devices you will use daily. That is why it is important to set up correct automation rules to get the maximum value from the device. After you paired it to your hub, it will most likely be recognized as a light or a switch. Users report that valve is easily recognized by HomeSeer, Wink, Home assistant and Fibaro. Dome also became very active at SmartThings community, so the custom handler works very well. Link the sensor triggers to the valve shut off action in your automation manager and you are ready to go. We also recommend to set up siren sounds and phone notification to all your family members. Hubs driven rules can be also supplemented by z-wave driven scenes as well. This is a bit more complicated but adds back up automation redundancy. The devices can also be operated manually with a motor clutch. It is not easy to reach so think about the placement during the installation.

Why is it better than the competition

  • The next best Z-wave mains shut off valve by Topico is using similar motor base, but the rest of the mounting brackets are weaker in quality and not as well thought through. We also prefer the support provided by Dome
  • Guardian leak and flood prevention system offers stronger build quality and even easier installation process. It also comes with three sensors and acts as a siren. It all sounds good before you look at the price. At almost four times of the price, we do not feel it provides four times more functionality. And we also love that Dome’s valve is easily connected to your smart home via Zwave so no extra app is needed.

Best water leak shut off valve for laundry rooms: MyGuard Shut-Off System

MyGuard Automatic Laundry Water shut off valve is not, strictly speaking, a smart home device as it lacks one of the main features of a smart home device – connectivity. Regardless of that, it can be very useful for saving you hundreds and thousands by providing a self-reliant system to monitor any leaks near your washing machine and shut off the water supply. Although not a comprehensive solution for water damage control, it offers very good build quality and a simple installation process.

We like:

  • Independent system with siren, sensor and shut off valve at a reasonable price
  • Easy installation process not requiring plumbers help
  • Simple manual controls and vacation mode

Meh:

  • Cannot be controlled from your smart home hub
  • Not controlling mains and cannot be linked to other leak sensors
  • Very long automatic valve attachments that stick out from the wall

Features

The valve consists of three main parts: two shut off valves, leak sensor, and controller. Controller has a number of button with self-explanatory functions: “Test”, “Vacation”, and “Reset”. Water leak sensor is a small round device that is attached the controller by the wire and should be placed on the floor behind the washing machine

Shut off valves are essentially two ball valves (hot and cold water) with a motor box on top to be added after the fittings for washing machine hoses

Installation

Installation takes from half an hour to an hour. First, you need to remove washer supply hoses from wall valves and attach electronic valves instead. Then, attach the hoses back to the electronic valves. The control unit should be mounted near the wall and powered up. Take care with the wires connecting to the valves and the water sensor. The latter should be placed on the floor where the leak can occur.

After the installation, test the device by pressing the “test” button on the controller and also pouring some water on the sensor. If all goes well then you are ready to go.

When planning the installation, note that the valves are long and will stick out from the wall. Make sure you have space between the wall and washing machine to accommodate that.

Use

The use is very simple as with other similar products. When water pools under the water sensor, a loud alarm sounds goes off and the automatic water valves shut off.

The valves can also be manually shut off by holding a “Test” or “Vacation” button on the control panel. An LED light on the panel indicates whether the valves are open or closed.

Unplugging the main controller, or pushing the test and vacation mode buttons shuts off the pipes

Comparing to competition

Comparing to the competition this automatic water shut off valve is focusing on laundry as the main source of leaks. This is a benefit and its main limitation. You will not be able to close mains if any leaks will happen under the sink and also there are no controls from SmartThings, HomeSeer, Home Assistant or any other smart hub you operate. Regardless of that, we believe that this is a very good product and can be extremely useful in the event of water leak in laundry room.

Guardians Leak Protection Kit is a beast of a machine. It doesn’t only look strong but also works very well. You will not need a plumber to install it with the overall process is somewhat even easier than Dome’s valve. It also has a siren and comes with three sensors. Where is the catch? Well, it is the price which is four times more comparing to Dome’s valve.

We like:

  • Very good build quality and well-thought design
  • Three sensors and a siren included
  • Very easy installation

Meh:

  • Cannot be easily connected to smart home hubs
  • No battery backup included
  • App is not easy to set up

Features

The device consists of a valve add-on controller, three sensor, and two probes. It can be used over existing quarter-turn metal ball valve from ½” – 1″. The automatic water shut off valve controller is rather big in size, but most likely will fit for the majority of homes. The device comes with three wireless water sensors which can be placed 1000′ away (line of sight) from a controller and have a 15-year lasting battery.

Installation and use

Installation is really easy and requires 4.5” clearance around the valve in all directions. You need to close your valve, and mount the valve. After that just push down unit centring on the valve nut and tighten the clamps. Next just put the power back on and use your phone with an app to set up (bluetooth required). This requires some attention as the process not that intuitive to follow.

Comparing to competition.

As mentioned, we are in love with the quality of the build and functionality. The only thing putting us off is a price. We can see how this can be a very robust solution for water damage control, and worth the money if you have it to spend.