Dan Sterling, CEO and Founder of Water Hero,  a leak detection and automatic water  shut off system, discusses commercial leak detection and automatic water shut off for churches and houses of worship.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dan Sterling, CEO and founder of Water Hero, a leak detection and automatic water shut off system for homes and businesses. Today we’re talking about commercial leak detection and automatic water shut off for churches and houses of worship. Welcome, Dan.

Dan Sterling: Thank you, John. Happy to be here.

John: Great. Dan, when we’re talking about churches and houses of worship, we mean churches, Christian churches, maybe synagogues, maybe mosques, different places like that, right.

Dan: Exactly, right. We’ve had these organizations reach out to us and a lot of times they’ll have at the bottom of the building, they might have a community room and several bathrooms down there, a kitchen. Unfortunately, some of these organizations will sometimes get these shockingly high water bills and someone might leave a toilet running. A young child might accidentally leave a sink on. The problem is in most areas you don’t get your water bill until three months later. You might get a quarterly water bill, and they usually come in cryptic notes too. Mine comes in 100 cubic foot units, which doesn’t mean to the average consumer.

John: Right.

Dan: Yeah, I’ve had churches, synagogues reach out to me saying, “We got a shocking $5,000 water bill this quarter.”

John: Right.

Dan: We really need a leak detection device to get on top of this.

John: I think one of the issues too with that type of place is that you’ve got a large, potentially large facility there and maybe only one or two people really, or a small group of people working there on a regular basis. Maybe they’re only working in like just the office, but they’re not always in, like you said, the hall, the church, the kitchen area. That might only be used once in a while, so a leak could happen and somebody might not even see that for quite a while.

Dan: Absolutely, yeah. Sometimes it could be a building next door and could be a weekend event. Again, someone just leaves the water running, and you may not be back in that building for another week.

John: Right.

Dan: They can really, really add up.

John: Bathrooms in different areas. I know at the church that I go to we have a bathroom that’s on the same level as the church. Then we have another two for men and women downstairs in a hall. Then of course there’s several bathrooms that are over in the rectory where the priest lives. Like you said, that’s a totally separate building even so maybe if you had leaks in a bathroom, you might not know about that for quite a while either.

Dan: Yeah, absolutely. We see it from all those sources and a lot of times too, even if there’s just what might seem like a minor leak to someone in the congregation, it’s human nature. They’re not paying the water bill, they’re just not tuned into it. They don’t think it’s a big deal, but when running for weeks on end, it can really add up.

Leak Detection for Houses of Worship

John: So what are some of the issues that might arise if you do have a leak? Obviously, you said that the cost is one issue. If you have a leak that’s going on, and on, and on, you could get a water bill after a few months and it could be astronomical. What are some of the other issues that might happen?

Dan: Right. The other big issue is burst pipe damage. It could be that a pipe breaks and again, it could break on Monday night in a building that no one’s going to be in until Saturday or Sunday. That water could be running for a long, long period of time. The damage compounds, every minute counts. It can be catastrophic. Not only can it ruin the building, it can cause mold damage, and it could cause a relocation. It could shut down a facility for you. The stakes are real high, and more and more of our organizations we work with, they’re getting premium discounts on their insurance too because the number one claim for houses of worship is water damage from burst pipes for their property and casualty policy, so this is a great way to mitigate that risk.

In some cases then, you’re taking 30% of that risk off the table. Sometimes you can push your deductible up since you’ve taken this great preventative measure and get a cheaper premium just because you’ve been able to self-insure with smart technology. Also, a lot of insurance companies are offering premium discounts. We also have a temperature sensor on there, so you get a freezer as well. You get the ambient air temperature where that meter is.

What’s specialized that we’re doing is we have a complete lineup of sizes from three-quarter inch and one inch, which are typically more residential sizes, but a lot of the houses of worship we work with might have an inch and a half or a two inch pipe coming in. These are very specialized sizes, but we work with those all the time. We can give a complete lineup of sizes. We actually, now we have sizes, three inch, four inch up to 12 inch sizes we can do, which are more for high-rise buildings. The sweet spot for houses of worship, we’re seeing these inch and a half and two inch pipes and that’s, we’re used to doing that all the time.

John: Right. The water here, unit that you’re talking about does two things. It does leak detection and of course water monitoring, like you said, so that you’re aware of how much water you’re using. That can help with your water bills, and then automatic water shut off. It has a valve where it can automatically shut off if it senses that there’s an abnormal amount of flow. Can you just explain that a little bit? Where is that installed? Is it installed on the pipe as it’s coming into the building and what are all of the different things that it’s capable of doing?

Dan: Sure. Water Hero is installed where water first comes into the building, so it’s whole building leak protection. It consists of a utility grade water meter, the same water meter you might get from your city that has American Water Works Association specs. It’s a billing quality meter with great accuracy, but we make it smart with our electronics. We’re reading the water flow 200 times a second with our electronics. We’re also, we have a temperature sensor there. That’s how we can give you these high and low temperature triggers to give you alerts on that. On the low end, that’s a freeze alert that sometimes qualifies for a premium discount as well with insurance companies. We’re taking that water flow information, that temperature information, and that’s connected to our main controller box, which has a Wi-Fi chip, so that pairs to broadband internet.

There’s also a very powerful local microprocessor in there. Even if power is out, the internet is down, you’re still locally protected. View it like a security system for your water, so it’s all time-based. In a residential situation, there’s a home mode and away mode. It could be that when the congregation is there, you’d have a home mode where you have higher triggers. It might be if water runs for more than 10 minutes, the facilities manager gets a text message. If it runs for 20 minutes, automatically shut the water off and send a text. In away mode, it could be one minute and one minute. It’s all completely user configurable based on the situation of your building and the water usage in your building. That’s basically how the system works. It’s all called connected and you get a warning layer. Then you also get a text message with shut off when certain, if waters run for that preset trigger time.

The other really great thing about it too is you can do remote. You get real time water usage information too, so that can be really valuable for helping save money on your water bill, but you can also control this remotely. You go to MyWaterHero.net, log into your account. You can change those alert triggers in a matter of seconds. You can switch it from home mode to away mode. You can also remotely turn the water on or off from anywhere in the world where you’ve got an internet connection.

John: Right. Definitely, like you said for churches and other houses of worship, definitely an important consideration especially given that some of those buildings are not in use for large periods of time, and then they’re used maybe on the weekends or something like that. Then of course, with churches you have issues where if you have a burst pipe or something like that that ruins the inside of the church, maybe you have to cancel your services for weeks or even months while repairs are being done. That could certainly hurt your congregation, like you said.

Dan: It’s catastrophic. It’s a complete nightmare when this happens to your home, or to your business or to your house of worship.

John: All right. That’s really great information, Dan. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dan: My pleasure. Thank you, John.

John: For more information, you can visit the Water Hero website at WaterHeroInc.com or call (877) 662-4496.