A hidden water leak is a homeowner's worst nightmare. A small leak can go on for a long time before you notice it and cause water damage and mold in your home. A large leak is even more frightening because you know water is gushing out somewhere but you can't see it. A plumber has a few leak detection methods that can be used to pinpoint the source of a water leak even if it is under concrete or soil. Here's how it works.
Acoustic Leak Detection
With this method, the plumber uses a listening device that works somewhat like a stethoscope. A listening cup is placed on the ground and sounds are transmitted to headphones. Many things affect how well the sound of a leak is transmitted when it is underground. The depth of the pipe, type of soil, covering on the soil such as grass or asphalt, type of pipe material, and the size of the pipe all come into play. The plumber starts at one end of the pipe, such as at the water meter and then follows the pipe as it runs underground. The sound of water flowing through the pipe can be heard through the headphones, and when the plumber gets closer to the leak, the sound is louder. This process allows the plumber to pinpoint the source of a leaky pipe without having to dig up the pipe until it's time to make repairs.
Thermal Camera Leak Detection
Another option is to use a thermal camera to scan around your home. Whether the water is from a hot or cold line, its temperature is different from the rest of your home so the leak shows up on the thermal camera. One of these cameras creates pictures or maps based on temperature differences. If there's a water leak under your floor, it may glow orange if the water is hot or blue if the water is cold. This process can be used to find water leaking under the floor, under a concrete slab, or behind walls.
Pipe Camera Detection
Your plumber might use a pipe camera to look for a water leak. The camera sends back a video image of the inside of the pipe so gushing water on the outside can't be seen. However, holes, cracks, and gaps in seams on the inside of the pipe are pinpointed along with corrosion damage. Using a pipe camera reveals the overall condition of your plumbing pipes and perhaps explains why the leak occurred.
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