WAMIC improves leak detection, prevention solution device


As any homeowner who has experienced water damage can attest, reliably detecting and preventing the leak in the first place would have saved enormous money, not to mention time and headaches.

It’s this principle that Burlington, Ont.-based company EcoNet Controls adopts in producing its line of water leak detection and prevention solutions for both residential and small commercial properties.

The company’s flagship product, the Bulldog Leak Detection & Prevention Solution, fits over the watermain valve and, in response to leak detection, can automatically close the valve – potentially avoiding damage to the property.

In looking to upgrade and improve this product using a wired leak sensor solution, EcoNet Controls needed the expertise of research engineers at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) for a viable manufacture and design solution, says Blake Allen, president at EcoNet Controls.

“Our current standard leak sensor is a puck-type module that sits on the floor in leak sensitive locations,” explains Allen. “If water reaches the puck, it activates the sensor and the system will shut off the water.” 

The rope extension to the puck adds area coverage and is ideal for locations such as the fridge, hot water tank, laundry room, etc.    

While EcoNet Controls had created a wired leak sensor prototype, it had an issue of long dry time and the company was looking to eliminate this problem.

The research team at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) explored and tested several solution variations, including 3D-printed components, explained Al Spence, PhD, and research lead WAMIC.

While exploring several solutions for EcoNet Control’s robot valve (shown on the home’s watermain shutoff), researchers use a testing multimeter and an early version of a prototype rope extension to reliably detect and prevent water leakage.

“A length of detection ‘rope’ that encircles or zig-zags over the potential leak area is an improvement, but commercial offerings often do not lay flat on the floor (missing detection areas), or after a leak take many hours to dry before they can be reused,” says Spence.

Allen says he is taking the results from this initial project research to complete a design that is manufacturable and that integrates into his company’s current leak detection and prevention solutions.

“Together with our internal development efforts, we plan to incorporate the best ideas into a new rope sensor product,” says Allen. “We were impressed that the WAMIC team expressed a genuine interest in our challenge. Regular update telephone calls and emails ensured that the project direction was maintained.” 

This project was made possible through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) – Interactive Visits, which provides up to 20 hours of access to the equipment, facilities, and expertise of a Technology Access Centre (TAC) to solve a specific business or technical challenge.

“We are currently engaged in a second IRAP IV project, and anticipate a similar beneficial interaction,” Allen adds.

This is one example of the types of technical services offered by the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College. To discover other resources and capabilities, visit the website.