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IoT to the Rescue

How a Sensor Could Have Saved My Basement From Flooding

The weather forecast called for a whopping three to five inches of rain over the next two days, so my thoughts naturally turned to my daughter’s weekend soccer schedule and the slim odds that we’d be heading an hour and half south to play the next day. As I went to bed on Friday night, I looked forward to a much more low-key weekend than the one that Mother Nature actually had in store for me.

The following morning I busied myself with the types of activities that you do on a dark and stormy morning: pancakes for the kids, reading the paper, cleaning out a guest room ahead of a painting project… Time flew by and soon I was called downstairs to head out for a family lunch at a favorite burger joint. As I was walking past the basement door, however, I heard an unfamiliar buzzing sound coming from downstairs. Following the noise to its source, my attention was diverted to the standing water on my basement floor. The buzzing? A power strip feeding my giant Niles subwoofer, telling me that it didn’t especially like being submerged under an inch and half of water.

I’m not sure how I managed to avoid electrocution as I walked across my waterbed-like carpet, but I unplugged the sub (save the home theater!) and then switched into classic “hero mode.” Just kidding. I started yelling for my wife to come down and help me figure out what to do next.

Karen was quick on the draw, connecting with our insurance and remediation companies, and hiring a plumber for a sump pump replacement (I’m handy with that kind of stuff in normal conditions, but not when a snorkel is required). I texted my brother, Chris, who said he’d be right over to help me start putting sofas up on blocks and clearing out closets.

The basement is the absolute worst place for a flood. It’s where you dump all of the stuff you don’t know what to do with. And, what a bad idea it was to use old cardboard moving boxes for storage instead of buying a bunch of $5 plastic bins at Target? Our clean up would have gone much more swimmingly had we crated all of our old papers, photos, and stuffed animals in plastic. What a mess…

In the end, not much was lost. The controller for my masking video screen was damaged (“suburban people problems”) and our carpet was totaled, but no one was hurt, and our insurance company was awesome. Now, I get to install the flooring that we prefer, and I have a legit excuse to be even more OCD about organizing family clutter.

I also procured a Z-Wave-connected Fibaro flood sensor/alarm for my utility room. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t add one sooner (I’ve only met with that little company a dozen times or so!). It took a splash of cold water to make me realize what piece of technology was missing from my smart home.