What is an Automatic Shutoff Valve?
Even a minor water heater leak
can cause an expensive repair, regardless of whether you are at home when the leak develops. In order to protect against an unexpected catastrophe, you can install an automatic shutoff valve.
The Purpose of Automatic Shutoff Valves
An automatic shutoff valve is recommended for any water using appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and some refrigerators, but they can be particularly vital on water heaters. The valve allows for early detection of a leak and the automatic stop of water flow. Some models of automatic shutoff valve also have a power disconnect feature, which can make a massive difference to the repair cost from correcting a leak to replacing the whole unit. The main purpose of the valve is to ensure that small leaks are measured, and the flow of water is turned off before the leak can cause major damage.
How It Works
The valves use a sensor which can detect liquid. If the sensor receives positive feedback of liquid, it sends a signal to the electronic switch to shut off the water supply. The majority of automatic shutoff valves function in the same way. Some high-end sensors will also trigger the power to the water heater be turned off. This can help eliminate the issue of an empty water tank having a burnt out heating element. Some digital valves can also send a message to your cell phone, providing the opportunity to remotely control the situation, by shutting off the water and power, and scheduling an appointment with your plumber.
What it Costs
Automatic shutoff valves for a water heater are relatively inexpensive. You can buy an economy model for approximately $60 while digital high-end models can cost up to $200. This means that if you opt for a mid range model, you can get a valve with great features for approximately $100 to $150. Although you may not relish the idea of spending $100, you need to consider that replacing a water damaged carpet will cost far more, not to mention the actual water heater repair bill.
Installing the Valve
There are many different models and varieties of automatic shutoff valves, so you need to assess which is the best choice for you. Ideally, you should choose a model, which has a good sensor and can be easily placed on the heater pan for accurate readings. It is also important to consider how easy the valve is to install. Most models only require a screwdriver and pipe wrench to install. The valve should have complete and full instructions that are easy to follow. Typically the valve has three components; the moisture detector, controller and the valve itself. The detector needs to be placed in the water heater drain pan, and you will need to mount the controller on a stable surface. The valve itself needs to be placed inline between the water inlet pipe and the tank.
When a leak happens, a bit of water on the floor will be the least of your problems. An automatic shutoff valve can save you from ruined carpets, soaked drywall and warped or decayed wood flooring caused by a water leak.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.