A look back at the development of water leak detection in server and computer rooms
The detection of water leaks occurred in the late 1970s, when computer rooms were in their infancy. Computer rooms, like today’s ones, contain air conditioning that contains water for humidifiers and sometimes cold water for cooling.
Until the mid-1980s, water was detected by point probe sensors.
These units would consist of an etched PCB or two metal electrodes. Water detection was done using a DC voltage on one sensor while looking for a return signal on the other leak Detection . If no return signal was seen at the return sensor, there was no water. The problem when using this type of system was the erosion of the sensors due to electrolysis and the limited area of detection of water, the water could flow away from the sensors and not be detected until it was too late.
From the mid-80s to the present, the advances have been mainly with alarm panels and the reporting of water leaks. Today you can receive text messages, emails, receive a phone call, record it in a building management system, or just have the doorbell and lamp.
My participation in water detection
I was first asked to design a water detection system in the late 1970s while working for Vikingshaw Products Ltd. Our parent company Vikingshaw Ltd at the time was building computer rooms. Across the country and Vinkshaw Products supplied them with distribution units. power, etc. Early systems were simple in their DC-based design with PCBS. For sensors and control units with a simple buzzer and lamp. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I discovered that DC was not the correct way to detect water, as the copper tracks from our sensor would disappear if left in the water for a few hours. It was from this point that I used an AC signal on the sensors to prevent them from eroding. In the early 80’s I became associated and founded a company called Wayscale Ltd.
During the 80’s, 90’s I developed a process to manufacture water detection cables and alarm systems to show water leaks from one to 128 different areas or zones.
The high-end multi-zone control unit uses addressable external stations. With four independent water detection zones and a 24-digit alphanumeric display to warn. Of the location of the water leak Detection in words and numbers. In 2003, and by mutual agreement, both my partner and I decided to stop trading and closed the factory. As part of the Wayscale breakup, I took over the design rights to the product. Including the manufacturing of the water sense cable, and started Direct current Electrical Ltd with two of my sons. From 2003 to the present, developments have been mainly with the alarm controller due to improvements in electronics.
Considerations when designing a water detection system
A number of factors need to be considered when designing a water diction system. If you don’t, the systems may not detect water when needed.
1) Uses alternating current (AC) not direct current (DC) in sensors. Direct current will erode the sensors if left in the water. For extended periods, rendering the system unusable for later alarms.
2) Zone interference leading to false alarms or incorrect location caused by a signal from one zone. Using ground (ground, conduit, etc.). To interfere with another zone, causing one or both zones to go into alarm without the presence of water.