Finding Leaks Produces Happier Customers

Leak-sensing system provides Colorado plumbing company with additional revenue and a competitive edge — and peace of mind for its customers.

Finding Leaks Produces Happier Customers

Ty McLain, technician at Carl Kelly Plumbing & Heating Services, installs a FloLogic leak-sensor system at a home near Telluride, Colorado. The FloLogic device features a solid-brass ball valve that’s installed where the main waterline enters a home or building. A key feature is the unit’s ability to automatically shut off the water supply when it senses a leak. It’s sensitive enough to detect leaks as small as 1 tablespoon of water per minute. (Photo courtesy of Carl Kelly)

Statistics show that plumbing leaks in American homes — whether catastrophic or tiny — waste trillions of gallons of water and cause billions of dollars in property damage annually. Similarly, many plumbing companies also suffer from leaks: Unrealized revenue that silently trickles away because they fail to take advantage of advanced water leak-sensing technology.

Carl Kelly is not one of those plumbers. The co-owner of Carl Kelly Plumbing & Heating Services has been installing FloLogic leak-control systems for more than a decade, primarily at high-end homes in the company’s home base of Telluride, Colorado.

The company charges about $2,000 per installation, and the devices offer good profit margins and add revenue to the company’s bottom line. They also create repair opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed — perhaps for long periods of time, in the case of tiny leaks, he says.

“I was skeptical at first,” says Kelly, who co-owns the business with his wife, April. They established the company in 2009, and its primary focus is residential new construction plumbing and residential service and repair work in a 30-mile radius around the ski-resort town. “It’s hard to make someone’s home a guinea pig for new products.

“But the learning curve for the FloLogic system was short, and its user interface is a lot better than other systems,” he says. “And the product performance has been great and so has the tech support.”

HOW IT WORKS

The FloLogic device features a solid-brass ball valve that’s installed where the main waterline enters a home or building. It’s designed to fit on both 1- and 1 1/2-inch-diameter pipes and includes union fittings on both ends. It requires a standard 120-volt electrical outlet for power and includes a battery that provides seven days of backup power in case of electrical outages.

A key feature is the unit’s ability to automatically shut off the water supply when it senses a leak. It’s sensitive enough to detect leaks as small as 1 tablespoon of water per minute. If it detects a leak, an audible alarm sounds.

If the unit is integrated into a home-monitoring system, it will send out alerts to designated contacts, including the company that does the monitoring; if the unit includes the optional FloLogic CONNECT module, it will send alerts to homeowners’ mobile devices. “We can set it up so we get a notification, too,” Kelly says. “You need some redundancy when it comes to water leaks.”

The great thing about the device is that when it alarms, it actually shuts off the water, says Kelly, whose company employs nine people and runs six service vehicles — two Chevrolet cargo vans, a RAM ProMaster 2500 and three Dodge RAM pickup trucks outfitted with utility bodies made by The Knapheide Mfg. Co. “With some other leak-sensing products, you get an alarm when there’s a leak, but the water keeps flowing.”

The FloLogic units are easy to install and program, Kelly says, noting that it usually takes about four to five hours to pipe one in, connect the wires and program it. “The programming is pretty self-explanatory after you read through the operator’s manual,” he says.

Another benefit: The device can be programmed to ignore sudden and/or intermittent water usage that occurs, for instance, when an irrigation system goes on or a water softener starts to operate. “If the parameters are set too low, you can get an alarm,” he says. “You have to program it to account for different things in different homes, such as fountains, pools, humidifiers and even stand-along icemakers.”

For convenience, homeowners can hook up the FloLogic unit directly to a home security system; that way, every time they disarm the security system, the device automatically switches from “away” to “home” mode without the need to go and manually change the setting on the unit’s control panel, Kelly says.

NOT A HARD SELL

Customers usually don’t require a hard-sell pitch to buy into the concept. Most of the homes Kelly installs the device in are worth well north of $1 million and their owners know full well how much damage water can do in a short amount of time. “They know it makes good sense to have one installed, plus they get a price break from home-insurance companies if they install one,” he says. “So eventually the device could pay for itself.”

Kelly has tried other systems with the auto-shut-off feature, but says the FloLogic’s ease of installation, longevity and tech-support team set it apart. As a bonus, parts from earlier models are still available, too, so even older models are easy to service and maintain, he adds.

“We’ve probably installed more than 100 FloLogic sensors and had very few complaints,” he says. “Overall, it’s a very good product that’s definitely worth putting into a plumber’s portfolio. You’ve got to be diverse to stay busy, and this is a good product to carry. It’s really nice to be able to offer this kind of protection to our clients and help them protect their assets.”



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.