Can AT&T home security system really turn off the water in your sink?

There’s this commercial by AT&T home security. A kid mentions to his father he had to stop by the house. The concerned father asked “Did you shut everything off?”…“Sure” concerned father having his doubts picks up his smart phone and proceeds to shut everything off his son supposedly already did.

Most of the things he did made sense, turn the lights out, locked the doors etc… But one thing that stuck me as odd was he shut the kitchen sink off from his smart phone.

That can’t be for real… right? First off, how f’n stupid do you have to be to leave the house with the kitchen sink running? Also, are there enough people in this world doing this that it actually needs to be a thing?

I want to know how they got to a point that they put electronic valves on the sink.

(or was the last one intended as a joke?)

That’s just it, theoretically you could do it if you installed a controller. They’re pointing out the potential possibilities, I don’t know anyone who’s techno-nuts enough to actually go and spend the money to do that in the off chance your kids are so fucking stupid you should had them institutionalized years ago.

Here’s a kit you can buy that detects a leak and shuts off the water. This one looks like it’s meant to be used at a washing machine or something like that.

They have one that go on your mains and then you place the detectors around your house, by your washing machine, water heater, anywhere else you might spring a leak, maybe near the floor drain to catch any leak that would happen in the basement such as a burst pipe. I’ve also seen one model that, if it shuts off the water, will notify you. It either needed a cell connection or WIFI access, I don’t remember. From there, it’s only one more step for you to be able to send a signal to it to to shut off the water from your smart phone.

If I owned my own home and had money to burn, I’d like a control like that so I could turn my water *on *to water the cats periodically (they’re trickling tap drinkers), or to turn the taps on in case a deep freeze happens while I’m out of state and I’m concerned with my pipes freezing - as happened just this week.

Me, I wouldn’t want a control like that. The ability to shut off water remotely would be more than balanced by all the times some glitch would start my water running that I didn’t intend.

Although, the ability to make your house guests think your house is haunted by controlling the sink remotely, does have its appeal.

The point of the ad, perhaps (which I’ve never seen and won’t be able to since I’m in a different country) is that everything can be controlled remotely, including the kitchen sink.

I haven’t seen the ad, but I’m sure it would be a valve under the sink (or a valve on the main water pipe), not that it’s actually controlling the sink itself. So it wouldn’t be able to remotely turn the water on, only off. It could only remotely turn it on if you left your sink in the on position to begin with.
It would be like turning your kitchen light on from the breaker in your basement. You can do it, but the light switch has to be in the on position.

The commercial in question.

or to turn on the hot water in the morning, so that by the time I get to the sink, the water coming out will actually BE hot.

They don’t control the sink or washing machine directly - their “Water Control” add-on includes flooding sensors and a WaterCop control valve that’s installed on the water main to shut off all water in the house.

ETA: It’s an emergency cutoff, rather than Jetsons-like automation that starts up the shower when your alarm clock goes off so you can stagger into a hot shower instead of waiting for hot water to get to the bathroom.

You can buy something like that at Home Depot. Some that will run on a timer so that at a set time, say 6:45am, you’ll have hot water and some that have a button to push to prime the hot water. I saw one that even included a remote so you can hit the button from somewhere else in your house (like your bedroom) and it’s ready to go when you get to the bathroom.

What the new ones do is get installed right in the bathroom. It’s a pump that sits between the cold and hot water pipes. It pumps water from the hot water pipe into the cold water pipe. I know, that doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does.

I’m not sure of that at all – remotely-operated valves can both turn water on or off. And while using a turnoff-only valve would allay my fears somewhat, they’d have their own problems (“Why the hell won’t the water turn on?” “Did you shut it off with the phone again?” “Yeah. Where’s my phone?” “I don’t know” “Dammit! I just want a drink of water.” “So use the bathroom sink upstairs.”).

Even with the shut-off as you suggest, it doesn’t eliminate the problem of glitches. Say the guy in the commercial, after using his phone to shut off the water (with the other home systems) A glitch that opens that shutoff valve will start the water going again, just as if the remote directly controlled the main tap.

In practice, AT&T probably just sends a guy to your house.

But you said

Which I just think is totally unfounded. How often do you think you’ll leave the faucet running, use your phone to turn it off AND have some glitch accidentally turn it back on? It it happened more then once in a few years, I’d get a new system. That’s a pretty extreme set of circumstances right there. Also, if you didn’t actually leave the faucet running and turned it off ‘just to be sure’ (and this is what I was getting at) and this glitch happened that turned it back on…nothing would happen. It’s not that water would start flowing.

Also, in all likelihood, if you turn it off remotely, you can turn it back on manually.

Basically, the pipe running between your hot and cold water pipes under the sink (which is the pipe that the pump sits on) completes a loop in your plumbing. A cold water pipe goes into your hot water heater, a hot water pipe exits the heater and goes up to your sink - or in this case, goes to the pipe (and the pump) under the sink that connects with the cold water pipe under the sink, which is continuous with the cold water pipe that feeds into your hot water tank.

So the pump pulls up water from the hot water tank, which pulls it from the cold water pipe, which pulls it through the sequence of cold water pipes that eventually leads back to the pump, which is busily pumping the water from your hot water pipes (the water that’s cooled down since the night before) into your cold water pipe.

Just moving everything around in a big circle, so that the hot water is at the point in the circle where you want it, rather than having to run a bunch of cold water out of the hot water tap to get it there.

Thanks for that RTFirefly I was just wondering how it would work.

My take on the commercial is that they were showing all the things that could have been done by the (obviously stupid–or at least incredibly negligent) kids. Like Dad was thinking to himself “They probably left the water on, the lights on, the doors unlocked and the Q-36 space modulator unplugged” with the little vignettes of the problems being corrected. Not so much that ATT would be able to do it.
Although, on second thought, then what would be the point point showing it, so never mind. I’m now curious about them doing it after all. Although, really, your kids leave faucets running and you let them drive?

Like I said, it doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does.

Remember, the whole point of security commercials is to make you scared and then give sell you a product to make you less scared. If they’ve already (more or less) saturated the market with security systems, they’ve got to find other things. Looks like they’re heading towards home automation. It’s not that bad of an idea since they already have the infrastructure, but they’re a little late to the game. With WIFI and cell phones so prevalent, you don’t need their connectivity to do it anymore.

For example, there’s a new garage door opener that will send a message to your phone to let you know if it’s left open and give you the option to close it, there’s also several aftermarket options to do that. But I’m sure if you give it a bit of time the alarm companies will integrate that, it’s really right up their alley…and they’ll be happy to charge a few dollars a month for it.

I couldn’t get past the college age kid that didn’t respect his dad’s house.

If I came home and found my house like that with all the lights on, tv and the faucet running. No one there. My adult daughters would have some serious explaining to do. We didn’t put up with that when they were 12.