Preventing water damage with Guardian
We installed the Guardian Leak Prevention System Plus and feel safer knowing we can automatically shut off our home’s water to prevent water damage.
Water Leak: False Alarm
We use our garbage disposal a lot and after a few years it started struggling to finish and making a lot more noise than usual. For the last couple months of its life it dripped lots of water underneath our sink, just enough to make a mess. We finally noticed it was leaking after it had already died.
Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains links that may earn us a commission from the Impact affiliate advertising program. We received the Guardian Leak Detection System Plus as part of this review. Opinions and conclusions are our own.
Although it didn’t cause that much damage, it was a nuisance, so when we replaced our garbage disposal, we also picked up a water leak sensor and put it under our sink so we could avoid future issues.
The water leak sensor we chose worked with Iris, our home hub at the time. The Iris hub had an interesting feature – when there is an emergency, it not only sent you an email or an alert on the app, it also called your phone. This can be a great feature if you have a real emergency.
In our case, we were both traveling for the day and planning to spend the night a few hours away from home. Around lunchtime, the water sensor detected water and the Iris started notifying us – sending urgent emails and calling our cell phone. Over and over, we were getting robocalls, telling us we had a water leak.
Our house cleaners had been at our house earlier in the day, so we were able to get ahold of them and get them to drive back and check everything out. They assured us that there was no dangerous leak, and at some point, the Iris stopped calling. Even though our cleaners said it was ok, we still felt uneasy the rest of the day and night, worried the issue would recur and what we were going to come home to the next day.
It turned out that water dripped down in the gap between the sink and the countertop, just enough to set off the sensor. We had no flood and no water damage. We knew we were lucky – to have our cleaners come back and check, and that we were only a couple of hours from home and not in another country. We solved our leak issue with a quick caulking.
In that situation, it would have been great to be able to shut off our water remotely to prevent any damage and to give us peace of mind. We didn’t even know such a thing even existed until we saw the Guardian by Elexa at CES 2018.
Guardian Leak Prevention System
The Guardian clamps onto a shut off valve and when triggered, mechanically turns the valve on and off. We were excited to try it, but we didn’t have the right kind of valve in our house, and, like a lot of homes in our area, our water main shut off is outside. So while we thought it was neat, we didn’t make it a priority to get one.
Solving an expensive problem
Later in the year, we went to CEDIA Expo and saw the Guardian team again. This time we also saw a lot of other competitors – leak detection systems seemed to be one of the most popular smart home device categories at the show so we decided we should learn more about it. According to WaterDamageDefense.com, water and mold damage is a huge problem, with 37% of all US homeowners making a claim during their lifetime, costing insurance companies $2.5 Billion every year. Beyond the cost, water can quickly destroy photos, documents and other priceless items. Homeowners and insurance companies alike are looking for solutions to help prevent flooding and water damage and smart technology can help.
We decided to take another look at the Guardian solution and figure out how we could try it for ourselves and share our experience. With the help of Guardian, we secured a kit for our home and began exploring how to install it.
Many homeowners will be able to install a Guardian without any help. All you need is the right type of valve and a nearby power outlet. However, like a lot of homes in warm climates, our water main shutoff is outside, and we had a gate valve (with a round knob) instead of a ball valve (with a straight handle that makes a quarter turn). We needed to hire a plumber to install a ball valve and an electrician to add a power outlet outside so we could plug in the Guardian unit.
In our area, we were fortunate to find Peter Jean from PJ Plumbing and Scott Vogeli from Modern Edison Electric, who like us, are both excited about the Guardian solution and how it can help their customers avoid water leaks. With their help, in a few hours we had a new ball valve, an outdoor power outlet, and the Guardian installed and ready to protect us.
Configuring the Guardian
The Guardian device clamps on to the ball valve and opens and closes the valve when triggered, either shutting off or opening up the water flow into the house. It is powered by both an electric plug and a battery backup, which lasts for up to 12 hours.
Once the Guardian was installed, it was simple to connect it to the companion app by downloading it and following the simple instructions. Once installed, we did a calibration procedure from the app to ensure the valve will open and close correctly and updated our firmware for the device.
Once we verified the app was installed correctly and we could open and close the valve through the app, we added the water leak sensors. The sensors pair very easily via Bluetooth as long as you are close to the Guardian itself. Afterwards, since the sensors use their own Guardian radio communication method, so you can place them up to 1000 feet away. This is excellent range and is not dependent on your WiFi connection. The Guardian valve does use WiFi to communicate to the app, which means you can access and control the Guardian from anywhere in the world.
The kit comes with either one or three sensors that you can place strategically around the house, anywhere you think a water leak may start. We put one in the kitchen, the laundry room and under the water heater tank. There is also a separate corded sensor that attaches to the Guardian itself that will detect water only. You can also buy additional sensors separately.
You can configure the Guardian app to take action based on these sensors. The app will notify you if water is detected or sensor is moved. If water is detected, the Guardian will automatically shut off the water.
Unlike our original leak sensors, Guardian’s sensors are cordless and detect water from both the top and the bottom. Plus, they boast an amazing 15-year battery life. We aren’t sure if we will even remember where we put them 15 years from now, but it is great to have that extra level of confidence that this is a system that will be there when we need it. And the app does tell you the battery status so you know how much time you have left.
No Internet Required
Another reason we chose the Guardian system is its offline capability. The system does not require WiFi nor an internet connection as the sensors communicate directly with the Guardian, and with the 12-hour battery backup that should be able to get us through an extended power outage. If we ever have a fire or an earthquake, it will be likely knock out both our power and out Internet, but with the Guardian, if there is any leak it will still be able to turn off the water.
Some suggestions for the future
The Guardian app is very simple and easy to use. With a couple of clicks, it shows you the status of each device, including the temperature and in the case of the Guardian, if the valve is open or closed. For each device, you can set the notification settings and update the firmware if necessary.
We do think they could use the home screen better by showing the status and letting you open and close the valve from there, and on the activity screen, while it shows all the notification and time of the events, it would be nice if it included the timestamp without having to click.
Another feature we would like to see an alert if you reach a certain temperature, which would be great in cold climates. Since California is known for earthquakes, it would also be good if we could choose to shut the water off based on motion on certain sensors.
The Guardian app is currently a stand-alone solution. In the future, we would like to be able to connect it to our home automation hub so we could potentially add other triggers and see the water shutoff status right in our home hub dashboard. And of course, we would also like to be able to ask Alexa for the status or to turn on the water on or off.
Insurance companies are really excited about preventing water damage with solutions like the Guardian. Many providers are offering either rebates or discounts for installing the Guardian solution. We suggest you contact your insurance company to see what they offer before buying.
Guardian currently recommends the unit for indoor use. If your home is like ours and you need to install it outside, you should make sure to cover the unit to protect it direct sun and water exposure and humidity and make sure you plug it into an outdoor-rated and covered power outlet. Guardian also recommends you use one of their Pro Installers for outdoor installation to get the best results.
We installed both an outdoor power outlet and a rain cover over our Guardian unit, and we will continue to monitor the performance.
We really like the Guardian solution. It is simple to install by yourself (as long as you have the right valve) and works even if your power goes out. Plus it does not require the internet nor WiFi to turn the water on or off. Now that it is installed we feel a lot more comfortable that if we do get another water leak, the Guardian will protect us.
We recommend you check your water shutoff for compatibility and pick up one of the bundled Guardian kits. We think you’ll want at least the 3-sensor version and maybe more depending on your situation. If you don’t have the right valve and/or power supply, be sure to hire a qualified plumber and/or electrician to help you.