Update June 6, 2018: Delta has discontinued sales of the Wi-Fi Leak Detector, and has asked users to return their devices to Delta Faucet for a full refund. In an email to owners, Delta said that there’s no safety concerns with the device, but the company cannot continue to guarantee the ongoing programming support required.
The Leak Detector app will be deactivated on September 1, 2018, and the product will no longer function at that time. Return your device for a refund by December 1, 2018. For more information, go to Delta’s Wi-Fi Leak Detector FAQ page.
Whether it’s caused by a hurricane, burst pipe, or overflowing bathtub, flooding can do serious damage to your home. It’s what makes smart leak detectors so attractive: getting a notification that there’s unwanted water flowing means you might be able to do something, even if it’s just moving cardboard boxes of childhood mementos to a higher shelf in your basement. (It might even get you a break on your insurance.) The problem is that many require an outlet, limiting where you can place them. Others need a hub, meaning an extra piece of equipment hooked into your router. The Delta Wi-Fi Leak Detector is hubless and battery operated, but the increased placement options aren’t necessarily enough to recommend this $80 gadget. Check out our review to see why.
Round, white, with a blinking LED ring on top, the Delta leak detector has a nice enough design one you probably won’t see too often, as it will likely be sequestered in a basement or behind a cupboard door. At its widest, the disk is nearly 4 inches; it’s also 1.5 inches tall. It’s compact and should fit in a lot of water-prone places. We tried it near the water tank close to the kitchen sink, in the closet where a 24-inch compact washer-and-dryer set lives, and behind the toilet. The only place we couldn’t make it work was behind the toilet, so we set it off to the side.
To set up the leak detector, you need your phone, a screwdriver, and three AAA batteries. The iOS and Android apps guide you through the quick setup, which includes pairing the device and adding it to your Wi-Fi network. There are several ways you can get leak detection notifications, including a push notification, but the app requires you to provide either a phone number or email address (or both). This way you’ll also get text or email alerts. Multiple users can receive these alerts, too, in case you’re out of town.
The app will ask where you’re placing the detector (tub/shower, sink, water heater, sump pump, and so on). You’ll also give it a name. You can choose its location, but we dubbed ours Delta Dawn. Now it’s ready to move to its permanent location.
It’s important to take placement into consideration. The Delta can detect leaks in two ways: drips from above and via water-detection rings on the bottom for pooling water. That means you should still get a notification when it detects pooling water, even if it’s not directly under the source. We found the alerts showed up reliably both in our email and via push notification. The device itself also flashes blue with the LED ring and makes a beeping noise. It’s fairly quiet, and you might not hear it if it’s down the basement or in a cupboard. The short-lived bursts of sound are also spaced pretty far apart (about 30 seconds), so it’s not annoying. This was nice when we couldn’t find our phone during a false alarm (cold floor?) but probably not the best for an actual issue.
Still, the battery power gives you a lot of flexibility. Corded devices like the D-Link Wi-Fi leak detectorgives you a very long extension cord, but that’s probably not something you want snaking around kitchen cabinets.
In the app, you’ll be able to dismiss an alert and see more information about the detector. You can see the signal strength, letting you know if it’s having trouble staying connected to your network. It will give you a daily rundown of alerts as well as the temperature. Its temperature sensors are an added bonus and could be useful for, say, a vacation home where freezing pipes might be an issue. It checks the temp three times a day, (set at 5:40 p.m., 9:40 a.m., and 1:40 a.m. for our detector.) The default threshold settings for alerts are 40 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also see information about battery life. The AAAs should last about two years, according to Delta, and you’ll get an alert when they’re at 20 percent.
We set the detector in a ring of water left by a glass on the counter, and it started beeping. Likewise, it reacted after we dribbled five drops of H2O on it from a pipette. We only had that one false alarm over a couple weeks of testing.
If you got to the detector quick enough and it didn’t get fully submerged, you should be able to set it up again once the spot is dry. But Delta says you should get a new $80 device if the battery compartment gets wet or if the detector has been submerged for 48 hours. Considering its function, it seems like the battery compartment should be better equipped for water.
In addition, there are a few other inconveniences with the Delta leak detector. The temperature sensors are nice, but the battery-operated, hubless Roost Smart Water Leak and Freeze Detector ($50) also alerts you to humidity issues. It too won’t survive a submerging, though. Another drawback is Delta doesn’t integrate with other smart-home devices. If you wanted to set your smart bulbs to flash blue when the detector sends an alert, for instance, you couldn’t set up an If This Then That recipe. If that interests you, something like the $70 Fibaro Flood Sensor, which works with HomeKit, might be a better way to go.
Compact and reliable, the Delta Wi-Fi Leak Detector is a solid battery-operated choice. If you want something with more coverage, the Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Leak and Freeze Detector ($72) comes with a four-foot sensing cable that might make more sense for a basement, but it’s not quite as pretty as the Delta. If you want an attractive sensor, the Delta is indeed that, but you can find something cheaper for a product that’s potentially going to be water-logged.