March 16, 2020
Flood Sensors, Heat Sensors, and Carbon Monoxide Sensors: The Facts
flood sensors, heat sensors, and carbon monoxide sensors protect your home—even
when you can’t.
A comprehensive home security plan protects against more than just intruders. Keeping your residence safe also requires sensors that detect environmental threats to safety and property, including fire, flooding, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Deploying the latest environmental sensor technology provides an early warning—and in these situations, every second counts.
Integrating monitored environmental sensors with a smart home security system provides another layer of safety. Unmonitored detectors, like the smoke detectors found in most households, emit a loud alarm when they’re activated. But if the house is empty or people are overcome by smoke or carbon monoxide, the sound will do little good. An alarm linked to a monitored security system will instantly notify both the homeowner and monitoring professionals, who will call emergency services if necessary.
Flood sensors, heat sensors, and carbon monoxide sensors all work in different ways to keep your home safe. This blog explains the benefits of installing these life- and property-saving devices and how they integrate with a Frontpoint smart security system.
sensors alert homeowners to leaks and rising water
Water can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your residence. And you don’t have to be the victim of a natural disaster to learn the toll water can take on a house. A leaky pipe or a failed sump pump could lead to a home-repair nightmare if it goes undetected.
In addition to requiring expensive repairs, a water-damaged house can pose a wide assortment of health and safety hazards. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warns of the danger of electrical hazards, structural collapse, and follow-on biological hazards like black mold and bacteria. Other potential dangers include standing water contaminated with hazardous materials and injuries suffered while working in a flood-damaged home.
This is where flood sensors come in. They can detect small amounts of standing water and issue an alert before the problem gets bigger. The device has two key components: a sensor and a transmitter. The battery-powered sensor is placed in any area that may be prone to flooding, often on a basement or laundry room floor. The transmitter sits above the potential flood zone (at least 10 inches away) to protect it from water damage. The two components communicate with each other and then to the system’s control panel via Z-Wave, a low-energy wireless communication signal.
When water comes into contact with the sensor’s two titanium probes, changes in conductivity trigger an alert. The sensor activates the transmitter, which communicates with the system control panel. The panel then sounds an alarm and instantly sends you a mobile notification, so you can respond rapidly to the threat.
If leaky plumbing or a burst pipe is the culprit, you may be able to stop the damage quickly—manually shutting off the main water valve is fairly simple. But if no one is home, flooding could continue for hours.
Fortunately, Z-Wave wireless technology makes it possible for even absent homeowners to address the problem by adding a smart water shutoff valve to the household network. After receiving an alert—and perhaps doing a quick visual assessment with the help of a mobile device and security cameras—the valve can be shut off remotely with compatible Z-Wave shutoff equipment.
heat sensors detect a fire before it gets out of control
Smoke alarms are among the most widely used type of environmental sensors in the United States. A survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) found that 96% of households had at least one smoke alarm, and the effectiveness of these devices is undeniable. The same NFPA survey found that three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm.
For maximum safety and security, however, smoke and heat detectors should be integrated with a smart, monitored security system.
Combined smoke and heat sensors take a multi-pronged approach to detecting a fire. First, the unit uses a photoelectric chamber that detects the tell-tale light patterns produced by small amounts of smoke. It backs up that protection with a heat-sensitive element that triggers an alert when the air temperature tops 135° F. The unit also contains a rate-of-rise sensor that activates when the room temperature increases by 15° in one minute. This combination of technologies means that a smoke and heat sensor can detect both smoldering, smoky fires and sudden eruptions of intense flames.
No matter the type of fire, linking the unit to a monitored home security system provides an early warning to both homeowners and first responders. While the audible alarm warns those inside the residence, the system also sends you a mobile alert and notifies the 24/7 monitoring center. The center immediately attempts to contact you via phone. If there is no answer after two attempts, someone answers but provides the wrong passcode, or you confirm a fire emergency, the monitoring professionals call the local fire department.
monoxide sensors protect you from a colorless, odorless, and potentially deadly
One of the least understood environmental threats to the average home is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. While many people learn to avoid running motor vehicles in closed garages, a surprising number of individuals are not aware of the potential for CO buildup inside our houses.
The Mayo Clinic points out that carbon monoxide is generated when many types of fuel are burned. In addition to gasoline engines, the gas is produced by equipment or appliances that burn propane, charcoal, or even wood. Natural gas-fueled furnaces and appliances can also emit carbon monoxide if they malfunction. CO gas can also begin to build up if any fuel-burning appliance is used indoors or improperly vented.
When the air is sufficiently saturated, carbon monoxide molecules begin to replace oxygen in the bloodstream. This effectively starves the body and brain of oxygen, quickly leading to confusion, weakness, headache, and other systems—before rapidly causing unconsciousness and possibly death. Unfortunately, there is no easy way for humans to detect this odorless, colorless threat without technological help.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention makes several recommendations to prevent CO buildup in the home. These include:
- Have furnaces, water heaters, and other fuel-burning appliances checked and serviced yearly.
- Have working chimneys checked and cleaned annually.
- Never use portable charcoal or gas grills or stoves indoors.
- Never use a portable generator inside the home or within 20 feet of a window, door, or vent.
- Install a carbon monoxide sensor.
Experts generally recommend installing a carbon monoxide sensor near every sleeping area in the house, with at least one unit on every floor. This ensures the best chance of detecting buildup in different areas and allows an audible alarm to awaken sleeping occupants. But if people have already been rendered unconscious or groggy by a CO buildup—and remember, the gas can incapacitate quickly—a siren alone may not be enough to save lives.
A monitored carbon monoxide sensor integrated with a smart home security system solves this problem. In addition to sounding an alarm, it will instantly notify a 24/7 monitoring center, which immediately calls 911. Since carbon monoxide can be so deadly, so fast, Frontpoint professionals do not call users first to verify an emergency.
environmental sensors with a smart home security system can save lives and property
The importance of installing flood sensors, smoke and heat sensors, and carbon monoxide sensors in your home is clear. And integrating these environmental sensors with a monitored smart security system provides even greater awareness and safety. In addition to alerting occupants of a threat, smart security systems notify a 24/7 monitoring center, which will quickly send first responders when they’re needed.
These systems will send a mobile notification to ensure that you know what’s going on in your home. And if you install security cameras, you can check out the situation visually to assess the threat and avoid false alarms.
Besides preventing thousands of dollars in damage, installing environmental sensors can help save money in other ways. Homeowners insurance companies often offer significant discounts to customers with monitored home security systems and integrated environmental sensors.
To learn more about smart home security, check out our other blog posts, including this piece on how wireless home security systems continue to work when the power goes out and how professional monitoring works in different situations.
Frontpoint offers protection from environmental hazards, intruders, and other sources of danger. Our integrated smart home security system detects threats and keeps you informed, whether you are at home or on the other side of the world. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.