Sense Blog

Sense alerts homeowner to flooding

When Dan first moved into his rural home, he felt overwhelmed by trying to learn about his new house. Previously living in the city, he never had to think about his utilities or worry about how all the systems in his home worked. Sense gave Dan and his wife a new intelligence to help them understand their home. In addition to feeling more comfortable in their rural home, the couple were able to avoid potential disasters with help from Sense.

Dan and his wife live about 500 feet from the beautiful Kootenay Lake, located in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. This 60-mile long lake is glacier-fed, and offers its residents gorgeous views and an abundance of water. Dan’s home water systems rely on three main pumps: a pump that pushes water from the lake, a pump that pressurizes the water into a tank, and an effluent pump for septic waste.

When he first moved into the home, Dan felt as though he was learning to understand the home only through his ears. He would have to listen for the pumps, waiting for them to turn on and off to make sure that they were working correctly. This is where his Sense journey began.

Looking for a service that would tell him when the pumps were on and off, he discovered Sense and had it installed in his home. Not long after it was installed, Sense identified the pumps and Dan was able to start setting up notifications to match the normal pattern of the pumps’ operation. In his own words, “Once I had established the pattern, how long it was going and how many times a day, I was able to say, OK, anytime it was going to run for more than x minutes, notify me.”

In the Sense app, you can set up custom device notifications that alert you if a device has turned on or off, or if the device is running for a specific time periods. To set a custom device notification on the mobile app, navigate to a device’s Setting screen. Within the Manage tab, tap “Add custom alert” and select the state of the device (ON/OFF) and the period of time in that state (minutes, hours, days) for an alert. 

This feature kept Dan’s home from flooding. He had received the notification that his lake pump had deviated from its normal pattern, and immediately went to see what the issue was. He found that the lake pump was pumping out barely a trickle of water when it should have been pushing out a significant amount of gallons per minute.

Dan began to walk towards the lake from the cistern behind his house, and within the first three feet he found a break in the water line, which was buried under snow. Said Dan: “If I hadn’t had Sense, I would’ve had no idea. One, it would’ve taken me a long time to figure out what was going on and two, I wouldn’t have necessarily known where or what the issue was. This helped me pinpoint what was going on very quickly, and also avoided a water disaster because it was pumping out the lake water just at the edge of the house.” If not for Sense, Dan would have been alerted to the pump failure by water flooding into his basement.

The monitoring system has saved Dan on more than one occasion. His home has a pump that pushed effluent from the septic tank uphill to a leaching field. This pump has a float in it, and when the float goes down, it triggers the pump to turn on and push the effluent. Usually this device runs for less than a minute, but Dan had received a notification that it had not turned on in over a day and a half. When he went to investigate, he found that the float was broken and no longer triggering the pump. If he had not found the issue in time, there could have been septic back flow into the house potentially causing extensive damage. Crisis averted, again! 

Sense even made a difference in Dan’s home life. “I feel like it’s an extra sense into my home. Sense has given me peace of mind,” says Dan. In their home perched above the lake shore, Dan and his wife can sit back and enjoy their spectacular view without worry.