Plumbing leak detection is used mainly to detect where a leak is taking place in plumbing systems that contain gases and liquids. Methods of detection commonly used include infrared, hydro-static testing, and high-resolution laser technology following leak detection during routine maintenance and inspection. Leak detection sensors are also available in the market to detect leakages. This article provides information on the various leak detection methods and technologies used in plumbing.
The most common type of leak detection sensor is the passive radio transmitter (PRT) or the steady-state leak detection system. These devices can sense the presence of an exposed pipe or joint by emitting radio waves. These signals can be detected by an accessory called the differential pressure sensor (DSS), which uses hydrant size sensing to determine the location of the leak.
A plumbing leaks detection company can also use a similar device called the angle electrode sensor (EOS) for detecting the presence of leaking pipes and joints. Another common use of an EOS is detection of water leaks in the water distribution lines. An EOS normally consist of a probe attached to a flexible electrical cable.
Many leak detection methods are based on the principle of applied physics. Here the concentration of a fixed amount of fluid above a fixed reference point (the interface of a pipe) is analyzed using electronic measurement methods such as resistivity, temperature, resistivity measurements, or ultrasound. The result of this analysis is the pressure change at the interfaces of the pipes or joints. This pressure change can then be used to infer the presence of leaks. Commonly used techniques include the displacement method, the hydrometer, the diaphragm-damp test, and the differential pressure transducer (DET).
The displacement method involves using two or more flexing rods to vary the rate of flow through the pipe. The temperature of the flexing rod can be varied by turning the device in clockwise and anticlockwise directions. The second method involves changing the atmospheric pressure at the location of the leak detection device to vary the rate of flow. This method is more accurate than the first method and may be required if the location is too large to fit on a single flexing rod.
Another common non-invasive method involves irrigation. Some irrigation devices, such as bidets or sprinkler systems have a valve connected to a line that can be controlled to vary the pressure of the water released. This method can be expensive, but it has the advantage that it can detect small leaks without requiring the installation of a secondary plumbing system. Another non-invasive method involves attaching an electronic probe to the joint or flange of a plumbing joint. If a leak detection company observes a changing resistance value with this probe, this suggests the presence of a leak.
Gas detection can also be achieved through the use of leak detectors. These gas detectors rely on the principle of saturation and flow. A saturated gas is one in which molecules are present both in the fluid and in the surrounding atmosphere. Flowing gas has molecules that have nowhere else to go but forward to their destination. To illustrate this concept, imagine a container full of table salt flowing down a table.
Infrared technology is one of the most widely used methods of leak detection. It relies on the detection of infrared rays, which are invisible to the human eye. When these rays hit a pipeline they release heat, causing the pipelines and fittings to expand and contract. Once the temperature difference is detected, the pipeline is halted. All kinds of metals can be detected using infrared technology, including oil and gas pipelines.