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What is the fastest way to locate a leak?


pipe leak

Locating a leak can be a cumbersome task when you don’t know where to look. It really could be anywhere and at any depth. There are a number of ways to locate a leak, each with varying degrees of accuracy and efficiency.

Cutting and Capping

Cutting and capping can be very time consuming, especially when you have other plumbing jobs to attend to. While it is a sure fire way of eventually eliminating a leak, you will waste a considerable amount of time narrowing down a section of leaking pipe. Digging and carting around mud, concrete and tarmac that was sitting above the pipe is typically more than a one-person task, which means you’ll require more staff, spend a lot longer on site and cause far more disruption to the homeowner and their property.

Gas Injection

The gas injection method, or sniffing test, involves using a gas detector to detect a leak by injecting gas into the pipes. Hydrogen is typically used, and the gas will escape through the leak once it has located it. For this method to be accurate, the gas must only be used in a section of the pipe where you can be sure the leak is located which involves closure of branches or pipes that the gas might go to, away from the leak. It’s essential to know the direction of water flow and to keep the gas within the set pipeline or this method loses its accuracy. Accurate location also requires the line of the pipe to be known or traced, which is impossible if the pipe is plastic. Considering the preparation for this method to work, it’s not the fastest way to locate a leak. And let’s not forget that carrying this gas around in vans is not the safest and requires additional cost to comply with Health & Safety Regulations.

Acoustic method

The listening stick method is a long standing way of detecting leaks and it requires some skill on the engineer’s part to identify the difference in sound at differing parts of the pipe. This method has since advanced with acoustic microphones that transmit vibrations along the pipe enabling a user to listen closely for sound variation to locate the leak. Again, this method can prove unreliable, especially if the route of the pipe is not known and generally needs an experienced engineer.

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Hydraulic leak detection

Hydraulic leak detection is the fastest available method in locating leaks. A small balloon-like device is placed into the pipe through the water meter manifold, with limited digging required. The pressure in the pipe pushes the inflated balloon along, until it reaches the leak and then stops in its path. With no digging and a simple to use system that requires minimal training, you can locate leaks fast.

The Ferret leak locator uses the hydraulic system and basically locates leaks for you, with no need for listening, gas injection or cutting pipe unnecessarily. Many water boards and plumbing companies are realising the benefits Ferret offers over existing leak detection methods so if you’d like more information, please fill in our contact form or call us on 0800 292 2835.

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