There are a lot of things around the home which can be automated. For instance, at certain times during the day lights get turned on, sprinkler systems run, and so forth. Some of these operate based on time, while other operate based on need, such as pool auto-levelers, and sump pumps. However, some of these things are more important than others. If a light burns out it is less important than if a water value fails to come on or shut off. In an arid climate, a value failing to come on could kill a tree, while a valve failing to shut off could result in flooding an property damage. A pump failing to shut off could cause a fire.

Yet when I look at these systems, I don't see anything obvious that stands out as an alert mechanism when things fail. If I'm away from my property for a while, I expect the automation to work properly the whole time I'm gone, and I can't babysit things which should work. Yet when something does go wrong, I would like to know so the problem can be fixed ASAP.

How do people generally handle exceptional conditions like this? Am I just having bad luck? Am I the only person who has had things fail which don't call attention to themselves until something bad happens as a result? Or is there some best practice (aside from continual babysitting I hope!) to catch and detect these various sorts of problems as soon as they occur? If a home alarm system can send an alert to my phone when a door is ajar, why not when a device malfunctions?

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    Flow meters and the like are additional systems. They'd cost the manufacturer more to include, and then everyone would buy the cheaper, sensorless brand. If you want surety, you're going to have to pony up, and hook up whatever sensors you need to get the information you want. Apr 25, 2015 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


OK, so you do have a security system with cellular notifications... You are probably aware you can add freeze sensors and flood sensors to communicate alerts through that system. That is at least some peace of mind if you're out of town and a pipe breaks or the furnace fails. But I have yet to hear of outdoor sprinkler system alerts. You might check with the sprinkler system company to ask if anything like that is being developed (if you haven't already asked them). Another thing to consider is surveillance cameras. Being able to take a peek using your smart phone now and then is some peace of mind until sprinkler systems can report malfunctions.

  • Unfortunately with regard to the sprinklers, it's a drip system, so it's hard sometimes to tell if it's on just by looking at it. Maybe a moisture sensor or something might work though...
    – Michael
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:49
  • You could use a ground moisture sensor to decide when to turn the drip on and off, and also monitor it for "on for a long time but no improvement"... but you're probably going to have to homebrew that.
    – keshlam
    Apr 25, 2015 at 14:30

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