Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector Review: Cool Device, or Is It All Wet?

If you’re worried about your sink, water heater, or other fixtures’ plumbing, consider equipping your home with the Kidde Leak and Freeze Detector.

By Tom Scalisi | Published Jan 12, 2024 12:35 PM

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Kidde Water Leak Detector SPR Review

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

While we know that water is essential to life, it’s also an incredibly destructive force. Leaking pipes can rot cabinets, soak floors, cause mold, and attract pests. Freezing temperatures can worsen the problem. As pipes freeze this causes the water within to expand, splitting pipes that eventually leak when the temperatures rise. Having the ability to know when a leak is starting can be the difference between a simple fix and an expensive-to-repair health hazard. Luckily, the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector can alert residents before it’s too late.

But what is the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector, and how does it work? I put this device through hands-on testing to answer those questions and more. Learn more in this Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector review.

Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector: At a Glance

Rating: 8.6/10

Kidde Water Leak Detector SPR Review

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

SPECS

  • Power source: 2 AA batteries (included)
  • Alarm type: Audible, measured at 95 decibels (dB)
  • Waterproof: Yes

PROS

  • Easy to set up using the Kidde app and the QR code on the device
  • App collects address information as well as emergency contact info to make calling for help easier
  • Emits a 95dB alert when water or freezing temperatures are detected
  • Works with or without Wi-Fi, so power outages are not a concern

CONS

  • Because the sensors are farther apart than those of any other water leak detector I tested (by ½ inch), it could take longer to trigger the detection of a water leak

Get the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector at:

What is the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector?

The Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector is a Wi-Fi–enabled alarm that can alert a homeowner or resident to the presence of water or dangerously low temperatures within their home. It’s approximately 2¾ inches in diameter and about 1¼ inches tall, or roughly the size of a hockey puck. It uses two AA batteries (which are included) and works with Wi-Fi or without.

The Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector features two small contacts underneath it that resemble metal balls. Should one continuous puddle of water touch both contacts, it will create a short and put the device into an alarm mode that sets off a 95dB alarm (Kidde doesn’t list a decibel level, but that’s where I measured it).

This device also has a freeze detection function, alerting residents if the temperature within a space drops below 37 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea is to alert them before the pipes in the space freeze and break, leading to a leak when the pipes thaw.

The Kidde works on its own—users can simply unbox it and place it in a cabinet, basement, or any other area they’d like to monitor. However, the device can also connect to a home’s Wi-Fi, allowing it to send an alert to the user’s phone through the Kidde app.

Kiddie water leak detector notification on smart phone

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

How easy is the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector to set up?

The Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector can be set up one of two ways: either as a stand-alone detector or through Wi-Fi. Both are relatively easy, with Wi-Fi requiring only a few extra steps.

To install the Kidde as a stand-alone detector, simply remove the sensor from the box and install the included batteries. There aren’t any sensors to install, wires to attach, or brackets to deal with. Users can place the detector inside a cabinet that has plumbing inside, behind the toilet, or near the water heater to alert them to any leaks. It will work right away and send a 95dB alarm if something triggers it.

To set up the device with a Wi-Fi connection, all a user needs to do is follow the stand-alone steps and download the Kidde app. The app is very easy to navigate and allows users to add the leak detector by scanning the QR code on the back of the sensor. Users can then name the device and assign it to a room.

A unique feature the Kidde app has that most others do not is the ability to save an emergency contact into the app. When an alarm is triggered, a button appears that the user can press to automatically dial the emergency contact. This can help prevent drawing a blank about who to call during a stressful alarm.

Is the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector easy to use?

Most water leak detectors are relatively easy to use. These sensors simply live inside a cabinet or on a floor next to a plumbing fixture, and users can forget about them until a leak occurs. The Kidde is just as easy to use.

When an alarm occurs, users can either check their phone and silence the alarm or they can follow the sound of the siren, locate the device that was triggered (if they have multiple devices), and remove it from the space. This will reset the alarm and silence it. While there isn’t a reset button, this method works quickly and allows the user to avoid trying to figure out the cause of a leak without a 95dB alarm disorienting them.

Aside from silencing the alarm, there isn’t much more to the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector. Like other leak detectors, they’re easy to set and forget.

How well designed is the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector?

My main complaints about the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Director involve design issues. For one, there aren’t any reset or Wi-Fi buttons. If a sensor refuses to connect to the Wi-Fi, the user has to reset it by touching both of the contacts underneath the sensor with a metal screwdriver or paper clip three times within 2 seconds. While the lack of buttons does make the sensors more waterproof, having to trip the device with a screwdriver or paper clip seems strange.

My other complaint is that the sensors are farther apart than those of other leak detectors I’ve tried, and it’s by at least ½ inch. While this might not seem like a big deal, it does mean that the puddle has to be larger to reach both sensors. Also, if the cabinet or floor where the detector is installed isn’t flat, the user has to make sure the sensors aren’t straddling a high point; otherwise, they may never trip.

This complaint is likely making a fuss over nothing, but when I compared this device to the multiple others I tested, it was the only one with the sensors so far apart. The sensors of other devices were very close to each other.

Kidde Water Leak Detector SPR Review

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

How does the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector perform?

All other considerations aside, how a water leak and freeze detector performs is the most important factor—and the Kidde performed very well. When the detector was placed in a test puddle, it alerted me within 10 seconds. The alert came up on my phone and clearly displayed the sensor’s location and the hazard, which was very easy to understand. When I tested the device when I was away from home, the alert still came very quickly (within 15 seconds).

Also, when the alert came up, it clearly displayed the button to call an emergency contact. While I was only testing the device and knew what to expect, I could imagine that receiving an alert in the middle of the night would be extremely disorienting. Knowing the app will store emergency contact info and automatically connect the user to that contact with the touch of a button seems like it would provide welcome peace of mind.

I also tested the freeze detector by simply placing the device in my freezer. Again, it alerted me quickly, stating the hazard and location and displaying a button to call an emergency contact.

Is the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector worth the money?

The Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector runs between $18 and $40, depending on the retailer. The question is, is it worth the money?

The Kidde was actually the least expensive Wi-Fi–compatible option. Other options were more expensive, though they did come with Wi-Fi bridges or hubs and multiple sensors. But while having extra sensors might be ideal for some folks, the ability to add one sensor with an app rather than a hub or bridge appealed to me.

Also, the Kidde was the only device that offered multiple functions (water and freeze detection). The other devices offered only water detection, but there is certainly value in having both water and freeze detection.

I’ve tested many Kidde devices in the past, and to be honest, they’re never really on the cutting edge. However, the sensors on the Kidde detector are top-notch and they connect with an app that gets the job done. The app is well designed and easy to use, which was a pleasant surprise. For this reason, it’s my opinion that the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector is worth the money, without question.

Should you buy the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector?

Most folks would do quite well with the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector monitoring their homes. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do at a reasonable price. However, there may be one thing to consider.

Folks who have multiple areas in their homes that they want to monitor will need to decide whether they want to buy multiple individual sensors or if they want a complete kit with a hub and multiple sensors, like this kit from YoLink. They’ll get the same amount of coverage as they would if purchasing individual sensors, but the up-front cost may be something they’ll want to consider when making the choice.

For anyone who needs a reliable, easy-to-set-up water leak and freeze detector that will work with or without Wi-Fi, the Kidde is the way to go. It works well, alerts quickly, and features an excellent app that stores emergency contact information. It also offers two sensors in one, and users can add as many devices as they want along the way, one at a time. This ultimately makes it a great option for bathrooms, basements, dishwashers, refrigerators, and anywhere else a water leak detector would be handy.

Where to Buy the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector

Get the Kidde Water Leak and Freeze Detector at:

Meet the Tester

Tom Scalisi has been in the trades for over two decades. He loves to share his knowledge of construction, home improvement, tools, techniques, and products with the readers of BobVila.com, This Old House, Family Handyman, and even his pest control website, Riddabugs.com.