We Tried It: Flo By Moen Smart Water Valve
Ready to learn about your water usage and save money? The Flo by Moen smart water valve might be just what you need.
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Copper pipe remains the standard for plumbing in up to 85 percent of U.S. homes. But copper is prone to corrosion over time from overly acidic water supplies.
When California began adding chloramine to its water supply to help kill bacteria, homeowners saw an increase in pinhole leaks in copper plumbing. These and other failures are often difficult to detect until significant water damage has occurred.
To be fair, polyethylene (or PEX) piping isn’t perfect either. Leaks can develop in PEX piping or at fittings that may go undetected as well. The solution? Leave all your plumbing exposed indoors so you can easily identify leaks. Or install a device that does this for you.
My home has copper main lines and plumbing manifolds that lead to PEX supply lines for fixtures and appliances. I can see much of the plumbing in my unfinished basement, but I still want more information and the security of a “smart” system. I installed the Flo by Moen smart water valve, which is part of the manufacturer’s Smart Water Security System.
What is the Flo by Moen?
Installation on your home’s main line — 3/4-in. to 1-1/4-in. pipe diameter— is simple if you have experience with copper pipe. Or it’s quick work for your favorite plumber.
Depending on the location and strength of your router, the Flo by Moen connects easily to WiFi. It’s compatible with Alexa and Google systems but doesn’t require a smart home hub.
When installed on the main water supply line, this valve monitors water flow rates and pressure in real time. It then reports the data through an app on your phone.
How We Tested It
During setup, the app asked me questions about water use, like whether I have a sprinkler system. Then over seven to 10 days, the system learned my water use habits. The valve was in Sleep mode then and not protecting me, but it was monitoring.
After its first day in Learning mode, it reported a 632-gallon usage for my sprinkler system. When the learning was complete, the device continued to monitor for changes in pressure and flow rate. If there’s a catastrophic failure, like a burst pipe or the water is left running, I get an alert and can shut off the water from anywhere. I also can set it up to shut off the water automatically.
If I’m planning to use an unusually large amount of water, maybe to fill a new hot tub, I can put the system in Sleep mode and it won’t think there’s a leak somewhere. The app will also notify me of situations like a running toilet or a faucet not completely closed.
Preventing major water damage is the main benefit of this Flo system. I had a pipe burst once because it froze in the winter. I don’t want to go through that again. I can also use this smart water valve to measure and rethink my family’s water usage, saving money as well.
The smart valve system runs daily Health Tests on my plumbing. It closes the main valve for a bit to test for changes in pressure. The system will schedule this test for a time when we don’t use water. Water use at the time will override the test. I can also schedule these tests myself.
The Flo by Moen smart valve works on its own, no subscriptions needed. You can also add Moen’s Smart Water Detector devices, which you place at individual plumbing fixtures or appliances. They’ll communicate with the smart valve directly or work through the Moen app.
Moen does offer a monthly subscription service called FloProtect, which includes an extended warranty, additional customer support and money toward an insurance deductible. Your insurance company may provide you with discounts for any of these services.
The Flo by Moen smart valve was easy to use and didn’t interfere with day to day life. It provided data right away, which was interesting and useful, then went to work to help save water and money.
The peace of mind provided by leak monitoring is well worth the cost, particularly for someone who has dealt with a burst pipe and water damage in the past. All in all, it’s a strong smart home product.
Where to Buy the Flo by Moen
Flo by Moen smart valve is available at Lowe’s and most home improvement stores. You can also buy it directly from the Moen website.