Leaking of any origin is annoying and requires attention. Undetected leaks are even worse as they can cause significant damage to the property, such as mold growth, puffed walls and flooring, let alone damage restoration costs.
Some leaks are pretty obvious, such as leaky faucets or sinks, while others can be out of sight and require leak detection pros to locate and fix them.
Before discussing the leak detection methods you’d better learn the signs of hidden leaks. Whenever you notice them, you should contact specialists to locate the leak and repair it.
Signs Of Hidden Leaks
- Increased water bills
- Wet patches on flooring, walls, or ceiling
- Lower water pressure
- Water meter running when water is not in use
Why Is Leak Detection Important?
- Lower bills. No one wants to pay a vast amount of money for excessive water that is not used and causes additional damage.
- Water quality. A leaky supply pipe can constitute a threat to the health of your family members as contaminants and hazardous substances can get into the water through an opening in the pipe.
- Damage prevention. Puffed flooring, destroyed drywalls, and mold infestation are just some of the consequences of untreated leaks.
Leak Detection: Invasive Vs. Non-Invasive Techniques
In the past, the only way to discover a leak location was by breaking drywalls, jackhammering the floor, or digging all around the yard. In most cases, these invasive methods led to unnecessary damage and consequent repair and restoration costs. However, tearing apart your home to find a leak source is not the case anymore.
Thanks to technological progress, plumbing pros specializing in leak detection are equipped with advanced tools that allow identifying leak locations, even a hidden slab leak, without excavating your home.
7 Non-Invasive Leak Detection Methods
Technologies have been progressing at an incredible speed, so the list of non-invasive leak detection methods is continuously replenished.
- Acoustic (ultrasonic). A dedicated device with highly sensitive acoustic sensors helps pros to determine a leak source. The device can pick up noise inaudible to humans, the ultrasonic sound. Equipped with a tool that transforms the ultrasonic sound into a low-frequency sound, trained specialists can recognize a noise made by a leak among other background sounds.
- Thermography (or thermal imaging). Specifically designed thermal imaging cameras display variations in surface temperature; being very sensitive, they can reach piping located behind walls and under concrete. Plumbing engineers consider thermography as one of the most reliable methods of leak detection.
- Video inspection (endoscopy). A powerful yet tiny camera with a light source is attached to a flexible cable and inserted through any suitable plumbing fixture inside a piping network. A specialist receives on a monitor the images transmitted from the camera. A flexible camera allows discovering not only the location but the cause of a leak too, be it a pipe crack due to rust or worn-out fitting. Given the precise location, pros can determine the optimal way to reach the leak and repair method without excessive damage to the property.
- Trace gas. The method deploys an eco-friendly pressurized gas that is pushed by a special device through the pipe network. A specialist equipped with a dedicated gas detector can pinpoint the leak location. As efficient as this method is, it is not offered by many companies as the equipment is pretty costly.
- Leak correlation. Perfect for large-scale plumbing systems, this technique relies on electronic pulses: two sensors that transmit special radio signals are placed at both pipe ends; then, math algorithms are used to analyze the signals to discover the precise leak location. For extensive piping over 600m, this method is one of the most efficient and reliable.
- GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar). The method is used mainly on larger industrial or commercial properties as it involves expensive equipment and well-trained technicians. The procedure is as follows: the radar transmits electromagnetic waves through the ground, once reflected off the underground objects, signals return and create a detailed picture of the subsurface landscape. The device displays the piping network, breaks, and water collected under the ground. Unfortunately, this method requires time to screen the entire underground plumbing system and highly qualified pros to interpret the results.
- Drone imaging. It isn’t commonly used for residential property due to high costs. However, the method is valuable to scan large, hard-to-reach areas where other methods are useless. High-resolution images made from a drone help pros identify the problem and decide on the optimal repair solution.
Water leak locating can be challenging for homeowners and even inexperienced plumbers. To avoid unnecessary damage to a property, you’d better choose a company specializing in leak detection. Typically, pros inspect your plumbing visually before using any specialized equipment. Given the specifics of a plumbing system, pros can determine what detection technology is the best under the circumstances.
Benefits Of Hiring Pros For Water Leak Detection
- Accuracy. The accuracy of advanced techniques is almost 99%. Higher accuracy can be only when you notice a leak with your own eyes.
- Time saving. The higher the accuracy is, the faster the leak is revealed. The faster the leak is located, the lower repair costs you have. In most cases, pros take less than an hour to figure out the location of a leak.
Prevention Of Potential Damage
Invasive methods mean breaking through walls or dismantling the entire piping system. Non-invasive technologies allow you to avoid unnecessary damage to your home. Even if pros have to open the floor or wall, they will work on a specific area to repair the discovered leak and won’t demolish the entire home in quest of a leak.
If a hidden leak is undetected for a long time, it can lead to significant damage to your property, including undermined structural integrity and hazardous mold growth. Damage mitigation in this case will cost much more than leak detection and repairs.
Elimination Of Health Risks
Leaky supply pipes pose a threat as various contaminants might get into the water. Leaky drainage pipes can contaminate your property. Hence, timely detection and repairs are of vital importance.
To sum up, whenever you suspect a hidden leak, look for a company that provides non-invasive detection services. This way the leak will be discovered faster with minimal damage to your home. The optimal solution is to hire a reputable local contractor with advanced equipment for leak detection, leak repair, damage mitigation, and post-damage remodeling.