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Build This Handy Leak Detector For $1.02

May 26, 2023

You’ve probably noticed that modern life has become rather complicated, and the projects we cover here on Hackaday have not been immune to the march of progress. We certainly aren’t complaining, but we’ll admit to the occasional wistful daydream of returning to the days when the front page of Hackaday looked more MacGyver than Microsoft.

Which is precisely why this hacked together water alarm from [dB] is so appealing. Dubbed the “SqueakyLeaks”, this gadget started its life as a simple wireless intruder alarm from the Dollar Tree. When the magnet got far enough from the battery-powered base, a 90 dB warble would kick in and let you know somebody had opened a window or a door they shouldn’t have.

But with a little rewiring and two Canadian pennies serving as contacts, the alarm has been converted to a water detector that can be placed around potential leaky appliances like the water heater or in areas where you want to be alerted to water accumulation such as sumps. They’re basically “set and forget”, as [dB] says the three LR44 batteries used in the alarms should last about two years. Though with a BOM of $1.02 CAD, it’s probably cheaper to just make multiples and throw them out when the batteries die.

This project is a quintessential hardware hack, with nary an Arduino or Raspberry Pi in sight. Even if you don’t lay awake at night worrying about leaking water as [dB] apparently does, you’ve got to appreciate the ingenuity and thrift of this solution.

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, you could always build yourself a complex system that sends you email based on high water levels or malfunctioning pumps. Whatever works.