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Effective Leak Detection: Our Tried and Tested Methods

Discover How We Find and Fix Leaks with Precision and Efficiency

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Our methods:

Our Proven Techniques and Advanced Technology

What is Tracer Gas Detection?

Hidden leaks can be costly and upsetting. Leaks that cannot be found with a visual inspection are the most difficult leaks. When the leak is not visible, we can use special technology to find the leak even when it is a hidden underground leak, a leak behind cupboards or even leaking pipework buried in a wall, ceiling, or floor.

Contact Peak leak Detection and firstly, we will drain the water out of the system to be tested. This makes room for the tracer gas to enter the leaking pipework. Our qualified plumbers will do this safely and with a minimum of mess. While the water is draining out of the pipework, we will usually complete a visual inspection of the property. Our leak detectives have a “sixth sense” for finding plumbing leaks and will usually be able to identify suspect areas where the hidden leak is likely to be located.

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Then we use a special gas known as “tracer gas” to find the hidden leak. The gas is introduced into the leaking pipework from a compressed gas bottle.

This “tracer gas” is not like the gas that is used for cooking and heating in your home (cooking and heating gas is mostly methane). The trace gas is a mixture of nitrogen and a small amount of hydrogen (about 5% hydrogen). The gas mixture is non-toxic and non-flammable (also known as “inert”). It is completely safe, and any gas that escapes during the process will dissipate into the atmosphere immediately.

Once the leaking pipe is full of the special gas, a small amount of the trace gas will start to come out of the leak in the pipe. The hydrogen in the tracer gas is able to find its way out of the leak in the pipe, and a small, invisible plume of tracer gas will start to emerge into the open air. The tracer gas is specially formulated so that it can come up through the ground, through mud and dirt. It can even come out of the leak in the pipe and up through solid concrete!

At this point, our leak detection engineer will use a “trace gas detector”, a special tool which “sniffs” the air in a particular area. The tool is very sensitive to very small amounts of the tracer gas. Our leak detection plumber will apply the gas sniffer to the walls and floor of the area where the leak is suspected to be. The trace gas sniffer will tell us where concentrations of the tracer gas increase and decrease. Our engineer will use this to narrow down the most likely position of the leak.

The use of this technology has revolutionised leak detection. Years ago, plumbers would simply dig or demolish in the area where they hoped the leak was. When it turned out the leak wasn’t there, they would dig and demolish elsewhere. In those days, leak detection was a guessing game and often many holes had to be dug and many areas demolished before the leak was found by trial and error. The cost in damage to property and time taken with this “destructive testing” was huge compared to our modern leak detection techniques and “non-destructive testing” technology
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We have had a customer who was tormented by a hidden leak which caused increased water bills. The customer had hired local plumbers who did their best but ripped apart floors and walls in the hope of finding the leak through sheer luck. They failed. Once the customer called Peak Leak Detection and watched us use our tracer gas detection equipment to “see” through concrete and find a hidden leak in the solid concrete floor slab, the customer was delighted the leak was found and fixed. They said the technology was “like magic”.

One of our leak detection technologies is to use sound to detect a hidden leak. If you have a leak that you can’t find, then contact Peak Leak Detection , and we will use technology such as sophisticated microphones to pinpoint a hidden leak. The sound of water tumbling over rocks is relaxing and soothing, but water leaking out of a broken pipe is stressful and damaging. They have one thing in common, water makes noise! Even the smallest amount of water escaping from a broken pipe makes noise.
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Our leak detection engineer can use special “acoustic ground microphone” technology to listen for the leak. The microphone we use is super sensitive to the smallest noise, and this equipment is most useful for leaks on buried pipes and hidden underground leaks.

Our leak technician will first survey the buried pipe to find out where the pipe runs in the ground and assess the type of ground the pipe runs in, often using a metal detector to trace metallic pipework under the ground. With the water switched on, our leak detection plumber will walk along the line of the pipe, listening to the ground with the special sensitive microphone, which is adjusted to be extremely sensitive and can hear the smallest sound.

The special microphone is linked to a portable signal analysis computer system, which takes in the sound signal from the microphone and passes the signal through various sound processing software and frequency filters. This sound processing computer will give an indication of the location of the underground leak, even though the actual break in the pipe might be a meter or more below the ground surface!

Perhaps as important as the signal processing computer is the engineer using their own ears to listen to the signal from the ground microphone and doing their analysis of the sounds. Having listened to hundreds of leaks in many different ground types, leaks in mud, leaks in clay, and leaks under concrete, a combination of years of experience of our leak detectives and the 21st-century technology of the microphone and signal processor will usually allow us to detect your water leak, fix your water leak, and help you with your insurance claim.
 
Acoustic leak detection is often used with other ground penetrating technology. To locate underground infrastructure, here at Peak Leak Detection, we use Cable Avoidance Tool (C.A.T) equipment, similar to a metal detector but able to locate electric cables, gas pipes, and water pipes. This helps us dig safely if we need to expose an underground leak and also helps in finding underground water leaks.
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What is Thermal Leak Detection?
Our leak detectives can use “infra-red” heat detection cameras to detect your hidden leak, especially hot water leaks or if you have a leak on your heating system. Often, a leak on the heating system is indicated by your boiler losing pressure. Heating system leaks are actually very common. The constant heating and cooling of central heating pipes can cause tiny movements which over the years can lead to a heating pipe leak.
Contact Peak Leak Detection and our engineer may use thermal imaging to find your leak. The cameras used are known as “infra-red” heat detecting cameras. These sophisticated cameras don’t detect light like a normal camera on your smartphone camera does, which detects visible light. A “normal camera” forms an image based on areas of different colour, brightness, and shape. An infra-red camera forms an image based on differences in heat emitted by different surfaces. These heat sensor cameras can show temperature differences of less than one degree between different areas.
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When hot water leaks out of a damaged heating pipe, it can cause the area around it to be very slightly warmer than other areas. A human would not be able to tell that there was any difference between these areas by feeling the wall. Our infra-red cameras can often detect the raised temperature caused by a central heating leak. Careful observation and analysis of the visual output of the infra-red camera can allow us to pinpoint your leak when there are no other clues to its location.

Some Testimonies From Homeowners

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2 Mar 2023
“Excellent workmanship, extremely professional. Bob came out to see to a serious leak coming from a mains water pipe that was embedded in the concrete flooring of the flat above me. He responded extremely quickly and dealt with a difficult situation very calmly and efficiently.”

26 Feb 2023
“Great work by Steve and Robert, my water bill doubled and then we got a letter from the water board telling us we had a leak, the lads came out the next day and had it all fixed just after lunchtime!”

12 Feb 2023
“The water pressure dropped right down at my mums house and she couldn’t even fill the bath. Her driveway is really long but Steve found the leak within a couple of hours, the drive is thick concrete laid by my dad years ago so we agreed to get a local groundworker to dig up the pipe where Steve marked it, it was right under were he said. Then Steve came back to fix the pipe the next day. Then the groundworker came back to fill in the hole. Thanks Steve.”

12 Jan 2023
“Highly recommended, no nonsense team, much appreciated.”
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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions from our customers to help you find the answers you’re looking for faster.

Probably not today but most calls are attended within 48 hours, we can prioritise vulnerable customers –
elderly or with young children etc. Give us a call, we’ll be there soon.
In a word, “yes”. All our engineers are fully qualified, time served plumbers with nationally recognized plumbing qualifications, we have full insurance for public liability etc.
– Details available on request.
Good question, we specialise in hard to find, hidden leaks so it’s hard to give an estimate. We allocate half a day to find most plumbing leaks –
our priority is letting you get back on with your life.

We always try and fix the leak once we find it (it is a separately charged item). We are fully qualified
plumbers and bring all the materials likely to be needed to fix most leaks.

You will need to look for the words “trace and access” and “escape of water” in your cover documents or give your insurer a call for clarification.

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