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6 Methods of Plumbing Leak Detection


Plumbing leaks of any size can cause major problems. If you see a drip, leak, or puddle, it’s time to call a local contractor. Does the water meter move when you haven’t used your plumbing? Contact a local plumber for leak detection and repair. 

Low water pressure, damp walls, water stains, running water sounds, and higher utility bills can also mean a leak. Not knowing its source means the issue will keep getting worse. Here are some of the advanced leak detection methods plumbers often use.


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1. Acoustic Devices

A plumber can use a microphone that amplifies the sound of dripping water. It can pick up water sounds through drywall, cabinets, and furnishings. A ground microphone can sense leaks from subsurface pipes. Acoustic disc plates effectively detect the signature sounds of leaks through concrete, stone, or brick.

Microphones help find leaks in a few ways. A plumber may hear the leak when passing the device over the affected area. The type of pipe can help point them in the right direction. For example, leak sounds travel farther through metal pipes than PVC pipes. Smaller diameter pipes transmit more sound than larger ones (larger pipes are better at conducting lower-frequency sounds).

2. Noise Correlating Systems

Leak noise correlators consist of sensors positioned on both sides of a pipe. These sensors transmit radio signals back and forth. Data are sent to a display where a plumber can analyze the detected anomalies. The control unit’s processor also analyzes the data. It then compares the information with mathematical algorithms that factor in the distance and the noise profiles of different pipe materials. Knowing the type of pipe being tested, the technician can determine where the leak is coming from.

3. Water Loss Inspection

Small, hidden leaks may cost thousands of dollars over time. Routine plumbing inspections can find sources of water loss before they become costly. They also avoid property damage, reductions in plumbing performance, and potential environmental impacts. 

During a water loss inspection, a plumber will look for corrosion, damaged pipe joints, high water pressure, frost, poor installation, and damage from construction and ground shifting. Other signs they check for include discoloration, warping, and musty odors. They can also employ advanced methods of leak detection if necessary.

4. Pipe Inspection Cameras

Video pipe inspection cameras provide the most precise way to find leaks. A miniature camera attached to a long fiber optic cable is inserted into the pipe. The technician views the feed from this closed-circuit camera on a video monitor. Whether a pipe is behind a wall or underground, the technician will see its internal condition and can determine the precise location of the leak.

5. Thermal Imaging

Infrared thermal scanners can identify water leaks and moisture through drywall, floorboards, soil, and concrete. A monitor displays an image that reveals shifts in temperature from one spot to another. These temperature changes can help pinpoint where a leak is. It may sound simple,  but using the equipment and interpreting the results requires advanced training.

6. Valve Exercising

Valve exercising is more of a preventative measure. But it can aid in leak detection and mitigation later. The location of gate valves is mapped using GPS technology. In addition to their location, a technician will also record the number of turns each valve needs. 

The information obtained is stored in a database. Plumbers can use the data to quickly find and repair leaks in the future. When a valve is exercised, the technician will also clean the valve box, helping prevent the buildup of deposits and reducing the risk of shutoff issues in an emergency.

Call Waldrop for Professional Leak Detection

Waldrop provides plumbing leak detection in upstate South Carolina. We use a range of techniques to find hidden leaks, including sound amplification, thermal imaging, pipe camera inspection, and pressure testing. These non-invasive methods simplify the repair process and allow us to complete the job much faster. For high-quality water supply, drain, and sewer line leak and slab leak detection, schedule service online or call (864) 536-0887.

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