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Sunday
Nov202011

Floodstop - Washing Machine


Have you ever experienced a flood in your home due to a faulty water supply line to your washing machine?  The amount of devastation and damage can be well into the many thousands of dollars not to mention the time and inconvenience cleaning up the aftermath. Fortunately there are several detections systems on the market that can help prevent these type of catastrophes. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a unit that met *all* my needs and concerns.  So I found the next best thing .. a device with IO ports.  The Floodstop Washing Machine Valve Shutoff Kit provides auxiliary IO (input-output) ports that enables you to extend the device's capabilities thru custom integration.

The Floodstop unit itself does provide a water sensor pad, a control unit, and the hot & cold water shut-off valves.  It is designed to shut-off the water supply in the event that water is detected on the sensor pad which typically would be located on the floor behind the washing machine.  You can also purchase additional sensors and daily chain them if you want to detect water in multiple locations.  The Floodstop unit has worked really well for me and has passed nearly two years worth of testing in my home.  The control unit seems to be built cheaply which is a downside, but it has worked flawlessly so I really can't complain too much.  

Ok, so why is the design of the Floodstop no enough?  Well if the supply lines are compromised, then you should be covered, but if the drainage line becomes disconnected, stopped up, or fails, then the Floodstop will shut off the water supply, but if your machine is running a cycle, it can pump the entire water contents of the tub out on your floor.  (This very thing happened to a neighbor of mine.)

Here is where we really get started with this project.

I wanted to kill the power to the washing machine to (a) prevent it pumping water out if the drainage line is compromised and (b) prevent the washing machine from trying to run a cycle if the water supply has been cut off by the Floodstop to prevent any damage to the washing machine.  Since the Floodstop provides both a NO (normally-open) and NC (normally-closed) contact leads, all I needed was to find a power controller that could be controlled via contact closure.  

Enter the Furman MP-20 Power Relay Accessory.  This is an industrial quality power controller and can handle electrical loads up to 20 amps. (Please see the addendum to this article at the bottom of the page for 15 amp circuits using the Furman MP-15)  Perfect for my washing machine.  Unfortunately the Furman it is a little pricey; however, I was able to pick up a slightly used unit on eBay at a very reasonble price.  A second important feature of the Furman MP-20 is that it includes a low voltage (12 VDC) power supply built into the unit itself --- so no additional ugly and bulky wall warts to supply power for this low-voltage circuit.  

Locate the NO (normally-open) IO contacts on the Floodstop control unit. Please note that the instruction manual and diagram that came with the unit were wrong (at the time of this writing).  I used a continuity tester to verify which port was which.  When the Floodstop unit is running normally the NO contacts provide an open circuit and when water is detected and the Floodstop sounds its alarm and closes the water valves, it will also close the NO contacts thus allowing the completion of our trigger circuit.  

 

On the Furman locate PIN 1 (+12 VDC) and PIN 3 (REM).  These are the two pins that we will use with the Floodstop to control power to the outlet.  When a circuit is completed between PIN 1 (+12 VDC) and PIN 3 (REM) the Furman will turn the power to the outlet off. 

So all we need to do is wire the Floodstop NO (normally-open) pins to the Furman on PIN 1 (+12 VDC) and PIN 3 (REM).  Thus when water is detected the Floodstop will close the NO circuit allowing the +12 VDC a complete circuit to the Furman's REM (remote) pin and subsequently will shut off the power.  The diagram below shows the wiring connection.  By the way, good news, the Floodstop does come with two short wires and connectors to interface to the Floodstop IO ports.  We only need to use one of them. 

Now the setup is complete by installing all the equipment and plugging in the washing machine to the Furman outlet.  The picture below is my complete installed system.

A few final words of caution.  A few reviews for the Floodstop on Amazon report that the Floodstop unit quits working over a period of time and has failed to protect a few customers.  I personally have not encountered any failures in the almost two years that I have had it installed.  Just a few drops of water on the sensor pad and the Floodstop will come to life sound its alarm and shut-off both hot and cold water valves.  I do perform routine tests of the system to ensure it continues to function properly and I would recommend that if you install a system like this that you do the same.  It only take about two minutes to test it out.

When you install the Furman or other power controller, please don't leave it on the floor. Make sure to install it on the wall or at least place it on a shelf or somewhere where it would not be exposed to water in the event of a failure. 

The Floodstop unit can be battery powered or plugged into the wall.  Please plug it in and use the batteries as a back-up only.  This whole system is vulnerable if it relies on being battery powered only. 

There are alternatives to the Furman and you may be able to find a more economical option.  I have seen an article where a similar setup was built using a X10 power controller.  While I'm sure this will work just fine, I am reluctant to build a protection system that relies on either a wireless or powerline signal such as X10.  Perhaps that is just me being over protective, but why take the chance? 

Thank you and feel free to provide any comments questions and success stories.

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Reader Comments (38)

Nice review. Do the buttons on the control unit allow you to manually shut off the water? I can't normally reach the valves to shut them off when I go away.

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdick Kalagher

This article is great. I am going to be setting this up this month (I live in Canada though, and these parts are hard to find).

Quick question, I have a 15A outlet that my washing machine is plugged into. I assume I can't use the 20A Furman MP20, however will this setup work with the 15A Furman MP15? I assume it will, but I want to double check before ordering expensive parts.

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Barker

My apologies for the delayed response, I was not getting notified of comments.

@Dick Kalagher

>> Do the buttons on the control unit allow you to manually shut off the water
Yes, there is a CLOSE (red) button that will force the values to shut off and an OPEN (green) button to re-open the valves.

@Ivan Barker

>>Quick question, I have a 15A outlet that my washing machine is plugged into. I assume I can't use the 20A Furman MP20, however will this setup work with the 15A Furman MP15?

If your existing outlet is rated at 15A then using the Furman MP15 would be ideal. It is selling new on Amazon for $99 US (see link on right side of page in the Amazon Product List). You could use the MP20 but you would most likely have to modify the plug to fit a 15A outlet, and then it would still only be rated for 15A. Save yourself the headache and go with the MP15.

So the rule of thumb for future readers:
- If you have an existing 15A circuit, then use the Furman MP-15
- If you have an existing 20A circuit, then use the Furman MP-20

March 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

I will be setting up a system as described for my second floor laundry room. My question for you is that my laundry room has a single 20 amp outlet so do you feel that it would be acceptable to plug the floodstop into the Furman? I realize that this would disconnect power to the floodstop which would then require the floodstop to run on batteries in the event of water detection. However as I unable to determine another way to set the system up with only a single outlet. Thanks for your help.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Hi Robert, your review on amazon brought me here. Do you have an idea for a 220 volt circuit? My washing machine is runs on 220V. I was thinking about wiring up a wall mounted enclosure with a 220V outlet - and plugging that into my existing 220V outlet. Inside the wall mounted outlet, I was thinking about putting relays on the black and the red wires. Those relays could be controlled by a separate 12V DC circuit connected to the NO of the floodstop, maybe? Do you think that might work?

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnk M

Hi Robert
I read your article, which is very good by the way, after we did had a basement leak and decided to use the (NO) port as you did. My goal was to have an additional remotely placed piezo buzzer alert us of any future leaks, this would greatly improve the ability to hear the buzzer if a future leak occurred. After doing the wiring and piezo buzzer installation I was quite surprised to hear the buzzer go off as soon as I connected it to what I believed was the normally open floodStop output as you did. Apparently there are different hardware versions of this floodstop controller? I used my ohm meter and verified that both output ports are measuring 56 ohms (not exactly normally closed). The original manual I have states both outputs are normally closed. But a newer online PDF file says there is one (NO) port and one (NC) port. I went to getfloodstop.com and also noticed that you had posted there as well. getfloodstop also does not have any technical contact info. I suspect that floodstop made changes to the design some time ago but was wondering if you ever came across this?

Do you have any insight/suggestions or perhaps schematic's of the two different designs. I have a technical background and can do any feasable modifications.

Thanks,
Jim Schreiber

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Schreiber

@Greg

>> My question for you is that my laundry room has a single 20 amp outlet so do you feel that it would be acceptable to plug the floodstop into the Furman?

If the Floodstop is running on batteries (when the Furman has the circuit powered down) then this should work fine.

The other option would be to replace the single 20A wall outlet with a double 20A outlet giving you a place to plug in the Furman and a second to plug in the Floodstop. This is what I had to do in my home.

Thanks, Robert

April 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

@Jim

>> Do you have any insight/suggestions or perhaps schematic's of the two different designs

Two different hardware revisions would explain why the documentation is wrong in the manuals. In the manual I received it has two references to the IO ports, one place says it includes one NO and one NC port and in the second location it says both ports are NC. I used a multimeter and tested mine to discover that it had one NO and one NC port.

As far as modifying the circuitry on the Floodstop to get a NO port, I can't really provide any help. I don't have the schematics for the device.

However, you could buy a low voltage (12V) DPDT or SPDT relay from some place like Radio Shack and use the NO port on the Floodstop to drive the actuator of the relay. Then the "DT" double-throw part of relay would then provide you both a NO and NC leads to drive the piezo buzzer and Furman.

Thanks, Robert

April 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

@Ank M

>> I was thinking about putting relays on the black and the red wires. Those relays could be controlled by a separate 12V DC circuit connected to the NO of the floodstop, maybe? Do you think that might work?

Yes, as long as the relays are rated for the amperage and voltage load then that should work just fine.

A heavy duty electromagnetic relay should provide adequate isolation between the low voltage and high voltage circuits. (That's its job) If you are building this setup yourself, instead of two separate relays, you should be able to find one DPDT or DPST relay rated at 240V. With the DPDT or DPST relay, a single magnetic coil can control two isolated poles, one for each of the 120V legs. Without the Furman providing the low voltage, you will need an additional low voltage transformer to power the relay coil. Just make sure the relay you purchase is rated above the maximum current (Amps) that the 240V circuit may draw.

Good Luck!
Thanks. - Robert

April 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

@Ank M

Please visit this new post for some additional options for 240V solutions. Specifically look at option #2:
http://www.savagehomeautomation.com/projects/floodstop-alternatives-to-furman-mp-20-mp-15.html

April 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

Can you post a picture of how the wiring is attached to the underside of the Floodstop and then then splits off to the Furman for connection. You indicated that a connector and wire was supplied with the Flood Stop unit, but I am unsure how the low voltage wire hooks into the underside of the unit. Thank you.

March 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMNB

@MNB,
Yes, I'll post a more detailed photo tonight.
Thanks, Robert

March 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

No need to post further pictures. The unit came with two electrical connectors that could be spliced to low voltage wire leading to the Furman 15A unit. Your instructions were perfect. Total install with full testing and mounting to the wall took about a half hour. Both units work well together. Very pleased with results and protection.

March 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMNB

OK, glad to hear you got it working and are up and running. I went to shoot the photo and discovered than my camera battery is dead and won't charge, so off to buy a new one.

Thanks, Robert

March 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

Thanks for this information. It helped a lot. I live in a second floor apartment and I've always lived in fear of flooding the apartment below me. This setup with the Floodstop and the Furman helps to alleviate a lot of that anxiety.

April 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Robert,
I recently ordered the Furman MP 15 but was sent the CN-15MP in its place (I'm assuming due to lack of availability of the MP 15). Do your instructions above remain the same for the CN-15MP or is it different?
Thanks for the help.

July 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam

@Sam

Wow, that CN-15MP sure looks nice. I have not used this model, but in reading the documentation it should work fine. The connections for the REM and 12VDC would be the same. However, the CN-15MP is a little more sophisticated and the REMOTE behavior can be configured via the DIP switches on the unit. In this article we are using the NO (normally-open) lines on the Floodstop and when the Floodstop is triggered the circuit is closed allowing the 12VDC and REM pins on the Furman MP-15 be connected thus shutting off the outlet on the Furman. To mimic this exact behavior on the CN-15MP it looks like you will need to set DIP switches 5, 6, and 7. Page 8 of the user's manual for the CN-15MP cover these switches. (http://www.furmancontractor.com/pdf/manual/Furman_CN-15-20MP_revA.pdf)

The manual says "With DIP 5 and DIP 6 OFF (factory default) connecting the 12VDC signal to the REM terminal will cause the outlet power to turn OFF." So this is the behavior we want for this project. Also DIP switch 7 needs to be in the OFF position to use "maintained" mode.

Good Luck!
-Robert

July 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

Thanks Robert. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Sam

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Robert,
I bench tested the Furman CN-15MP as you described above with DIP switches 4, 8, and 9 ON and all other DIP switches OFF. I connected it to the Floodstop unit in the same manner you describe in your original post. The entire setup worked perfectly when the sensor was wetted. Really appreciate the help.
Sam

July 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam

For anyone looking for a 240v solution. Google search "PowerSwitch Tail 240 Kit". This kit must be assembled but it does support up to 20-amp loads and its really inexpensive. To use this with the Floodstop you would need to provide an external power source (3-24 VDC) to trip the PowerSwitch. The advantage of the Furman MP-20/MP-15 is that it includes a build in low-voltage power source for the control circuit. However, at the low cost of this PowerSwitch you would certainly have some money left over to purchase a separate power supply.

For that matter, anyone looking for a lower cost alternative to the Furman MP-20/MP-15 and are willing to do a little bit more wiring work, the PowerSwitch devices are a very cost friendly alternative. They offer a model 120V@15A already assembled and ready to go and 120V@20A and 240V@20A kits.

Here is the pre-assembled model:
http://www.powerswitchtail.com/Pages/default.aspx

Here are the kits:
http://www.powerswitchtail.com/Pages/PSTKKit.aspx

September 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterRobert Savage

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