Getting to the bottom of any dribble, trickle, or leak requires timely, precise detection and resolution with the plumbing service by the pros with cutting-edge equipment. Here’s how that equipment works…

You’re pretty sure you have a leak. There’s a funny smell, lack of water pressure, or a very clear puddle on your floor (or possibly all three!).

But finding the location of the actual leak might be more complicated than you might think. This is especially true if the pipes are in the ceiling, between the walls, or below the floorboards.

This is where leak detection systems come into play. Plumbing professionals can use a variety of equipment and tactics to get to the bottom of your leak. But how do they actually work, and how do you know you’re getting value for your money?

Excellent questions! That’s why we’re taking a closer look here into the different detection methods used by today’s professionals.

Looking for a DIY solution? Check our blog: Ultimate DIY Leak Detection Test

Aren’t leaks obvious? Why bother with detection?

Actually, this might not be as obvious as you think.

Sure, some approaches are really straightforward. If there’s a clear leak and wet pipes, it might not take too long to find the source and set to work fixing it. But what about the more subtle signs? Or a potential gas leak that doesn’t leave you with obvious clues?

Let’s say you suspect a leak but aren’t able to pinpoint it. After all, there’s no flood in the basement or soggy bathroom sheetrock…yet. But that nagging feeling won’t go away. Your water bill has gone up (and you aren’t taking longer showers). You keep hearing strange noises in your plumbing (and you don’t think your house is haunted).

Time for leak detection!

A plumber will assess your entire plumbing system to determine the root cause of the assumed leak. They’ll use tools specifically designed to locate the exact culprit and then provide you with a remedy on the spot.

What tools are used in leak detection systems?

There are quite a few ways to find the source of a leak, and a professional plumber should have several in their arsenal. The tools vary in how they triangulate the location of the leak

#1: Helium detection devices

Using gas against water? You bet. By forcing helium into a potentially leaky pipe, plumbers can find out very fast if, and where, the pipe is compromised. The helium gas is sprayed into a pressurised pipe and tools are used to monitor whether the gas diffuses. If it does, that means it found a way out of the pipe through a crack or pinhole. Mass spectrometers allow professionals to even calculate the leak rate.

#2: Ultrasound

If you have a large leak, you were probably partly made aware by the sound of the water dripping or running (or gushing in the worst of all cases). Very tiny leaks will make a sound, too, but you might not be able to hear them.
Ultrasound, however, is ultra-sensitive to sound. Plumbers can target areas of pipe, wall, ceiling or flooring with an ultrasound device, which can convert the small sounds to a frequency that can be heard by humans. The area producing the sound is likely the source of the leak.

#3: Correlator technology

This option also uses sound but is great for spaces where direct, straight-line access might not be possible. Plumbers place sensors on pipes at different distances and locations. A sound is issued from a device which then calculates the location of a leak based on changes (a comparison or correlation) in the sound produced between the sensors.

#4: Infrared thermography

Pipes don’t just trap water (when they’re working properly). They also trap in the temperature – heat or cold – from the water itself. Sensitive infrared cameras can actually detect subtle changes in temperatures using thermography, or imaging that shows changes in heat. Small changes can quickly indicate a leak based on the temperature of the pipe or the material directly surrounding it.

#5: Manometers

So far, we’ve only touched on water leaks. But what happens if there’s a gas leak? Thankfully, you’ll probably smell it pretty fast since odourless natural gas contains the additive mercaptan (known for that awful rotten egg odour). But to find the source of the leak, a licensed plumber can use a digital manometer, which measures the weight of the gas between two different pressures.

How long does the detection take?

As the water continues to flow, it makes complete sense that you’ll be in a hurry for a solution.
With so many different technical tools at their disposal, a plumber shouldn’t take long to find the source of your leak. The delays can come from trying to test pipes in difficult to access areas or not knowing where to start in the first place. Once an area is targeted, most of the available tools can give precise readings in just minutes. That said, the average call out for the detection takes between 1-4 hours.

We found the leak. Now what?

Success: the source of your leak has been found!

Now it’s time to put a stop to it. Your plumber will have a recommendation for a fix specific to your problem. After all, a teeny tiny leak will require a quite different solution than a complete break or crack.

Common remedies for a leaky pipe include:

  • Replacing the damaged portion of pipe
  • Relining the existing pipe
  • Applying epoxy putty or another patch
  • Surround the pipe with hardening wrap
  • Install a rubber pipe connector

Clearly, some of these options are more temporary sounding than others. It’s possible that a plumber, especially for an emergency call out, will use patch or wrap to stop the leak for the short term and return the next day to do a more thorough repair.

The benefits of proactive leak detection

Most Melbourne home and business owners leave rapture detection until they have a leak (or suspect one). But did you know that regular preventative checks as part of routine maintenance can be a benefit? Early leak detection can be the difference between a few drips today and a whole flood months from now.

In addition to preventing damage, hiring out a professional plumber instead of doing it yourself can save you tons of time and money, both precious commodities when you’re facing a leak. While it can take a little while to find the specific course of the leak, the various discovery methods and tools available are non-invasive. This means no one has to cut into a wall for exploratory efforts (just if they need to get to a specific pipe to do the actual repair).

Professional service that’s well worth it

Detecting a leak as soon (or before) it starts is essential to preserving your property. With so many options to choose from to detect water seepage using pressure, sound, and even thermal scans, a professional service is bound to find your leak promptly.

The question is just how promptly they’ll get to the bottom of it all, or to your house for that matter. Don’t just look for a local plumber. Look for leak detection experts with the best equipment and emergency services available.

Look to Mr. Leak Detector. Our 24/7 service is ready to help homes and businesses across Melbourne at any time – day or night. We offer timely assistance and transparent pricing so you have one less surprise on your hands. Our fully insured and licensed plumbers use only state-of-the-art tools to find the exact location and cause of your leak with efficient detection and effective resolution.

If you think – or clearly know – you have a leak, call the experts at Mr. Leak Detector for same-day service. And don’t forget to save our number (08 9331 6633) in case trouble strikes.