How SmartThings Saved Me During the Polar Vortex–Twice

A Minnesota native describes how SmartThings helped save his home and property from costly repairs two different times during last week’s extreme sub-zero Arctic freeze.

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“As a Midwesterner at this time of year, I’ve come to expect some bouts with chilly temps here and there. But the “polar vortex”– last week’s freak large-scale cyclone that caused -25°F temps and angry polar bears to descend on Minneapolis from the Arctic–introduced an entirely new level of pain.

In my time of home ownership, I’ve had plenty of things go wrong unexpectedly, but until this deep freeze came along, I had never had the misfortune of dealing with frozen pipes. Fortunately, this year I have SmartThings to help me out and let me just say that it’s saved my ass twice in the past week alone.

The first ass-saving happened on New Year’s Eve. I got an alert from SmartThings that there was water in the basement. I quickly opened the door to the basement (the lights in my stairwell came on automatically FTW!) and sure enough, I could hear water rushing out of the busted pipe, high-tide style.

[pullquote]Instead of massive damage to our basement, we were able to shut off the water and use a shop vac and dehumidifier to clean up before the plumber came the next day.”[/pullquote]I rushed down to find that the source of the leak was in my basement bathroom. We had taken in a fair amount of water because I keep my SmartSense Moisture sensor in the laundry room. That said, had I not had a SmartSense Moisture sensor at all, it could have been devastating–not unlike the story that caused Alex Hawkinson to start SmartThings in the first place. Instead of massive damage to our basement, we were able to shut off the water and use a shop vac and dehumidifier to clean up before the plumber came the next day. My family was able to celebrate a pretty nice New Year’s rather than sorting through the ruins of our basement. Score one for SmartThings!


SmartThings sent me an instant alert that this pipe was frozen and leaking.

The next ass-saving came on January 6th when it hit -25°F in the early hours of the day. I had my SmartSense Multi sensor hooked up to my garage door to know if it was open or closed, but also had it set up to alert me if it got too cold. I usually don’t think too much about the temp in the garage, but I was a bit on edge after the whole deal on New Year’s Eve. So when it alerted me of how cold it was in there, I decided I should check my faucets.

Sure enough, I found that the cold water in my bathroom that shares a wall with the garage was not flowing at all. This was bad. No flow meant it was likely frozen. Luckily, I had caught it early and there wasn’t a busted pipe quite yet or another flood in my poor basement. Because SmartThings helped me keep an eye on the temp, I was able to get a heater going in the garage in time to thaw the line and get the water flowing again. Score two for SmartThings!

When a lot of people think about a “smart home,” they conjure up images of a futuristic Jetsons-style house that automatically reacts to your preferences and anticipates your needs. Well, I’ve learned that perhaps the most valuable aspect of a connected home is that it can also alert you of dangers and damages that you don’t anticipate and be a sixth sense to keep you safe and secure.” Jesse

Jesse’s Dashboard and configurations:

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