Originally, I was so happy that I have installed “Watts FloodSafe Auto-ShutOff Connector” on the toilet several months ago, because it claims that it could protect our house from flooding. Well, as an IT professional and Home Improvement guy, I always want to put these gimmick products to the test. Yes, I found a serious problem.
How it works?
First, let’s understand how it works. There is no electronic component inside these connectors, everything is mechanical. Quote from Watts’ web site “When flow of water in excess of the flow required by any standard fixture/appliance is detected, FloodSafe assumes a burst and the flow of water is shutoff”.
What is the problem? False Positive
This is a serious flaw, because they didn’t say how many seconds after the pressure exceed being detected, then shuts it off. Air in the pipe or perhaps large scale of water banging (Google it if you don’t know what “water banging” is) can trigger this as false positive.
How will you replicate the problem?
1. Assuming you have installed a FloodSafe Auto-ShutOff value on 2nd floor toilet.
2. Go to basement, shut off the main water supply value for the whole house
3. In basement or on main floor, turn on any water tap for 1 min. This will make water drain from second floor and to create air in the pipe due to gravity.
4. Turn on the main water supply value for the house, everything is back to normal
5. Now, go to 2nd floor and turn on water on the tap (assume this tap didn’t have FloodSafe installed), tap works normally but you will hear a big bang noise within the first 10 seconds because water is rushing out from the pipe due to air in the pipe.
6. On 2nd floor, try to flush the toilet (where FloodSafe is installed). After the 1st flush, there is no more water refill! Because stupid FloodSafe thinks there is a water burst!
(I have repeatedly tested the above experiement for 3 times and it yielded the same result, very sad…)
When can this happen?
I didn’t make this experiment up, this actually happened to me. Here are 2 primary examples:
1. Your local municipal water supply shuts off due to temporary water outage
2. You are on vacation and you shut off your main valve before you leave
How to reset the FloodSafe? and what is the problem?
According to Watts’ web site, you have to shut off the value of water supply, DISCONNECT the connection, and then RECONNECT, this will automatically reset the FloodSafe device. Yes, it did work but consider these:
1. Can you imagine if you have 5 bathrooms in the house, all faucets and toilets have to go through the same procedures? This is bullshit and I think FloodSafe is just another overpriced garbage.
2. Can you also imagine a non-handy family come home after vacation and found that they can’t take a shower and their shit can’t get flushed properly? How frustrated is that?
There are some more links you may want to read about FloodSafe product, although they are not related to false positive but they worth reading.
Room for improvement
They need to re-design this stupid product, either do more testing on false positive or make it easier to reset the unit. It is a good idea, but just bad design that doesn’t work. I just CANNOT believe I can buy this from Home Depot, this is so unacceptable. Good luck to all of you if you have installed many of these units in your house. I have already changed mine back to the regular one, and sold this crappy product on CraigsList.