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Detecting a water leak electronically ?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by N Cook, Sep 16, 2005.

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  1. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    By excavating pits and freezing the pipe I localised down to a 20 foot run
    and then a 10 foot run. I've now dug 2 more pits so about 3 foot
    apart in that 10 foot. 3 gallons of water an hour is just disappearing
    with no trace emerging along pipe or into holes.


    While I wait for more water to freeze in the freezer to
    localise a bit more, anyone any ideas for electronically/
    audibly trying to localise the leak. A listening stick made from a steel
    rod and a wooden drawer knob certainly works against anywhere
    on the pipe (thats the problem ,anywhere ,
    and much same level) but nothing through the soil
     
  2. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi...

    Suspect that not much is going to help other than bracketing sections
    of the pipe and listening for vibration, but this might make for
    helpful reading...

    http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/leak/leakdetect.html

    Take care.

    Ken
     
  3. mike

    mike Guest

    I'd like to hear more about the freezing technique for locating leaks.
    HOw do you get water ice to freeze the pipe, especially when there's at
    least 3 gal/hr moving thru it??

    Ultrasonic leak detectors work well on gas leaks. Expect you'd have the
    same "anywhere" problem on pipe tho. Just too much sound conductivity.
    mike


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  4. Are you certain that there is no "T" junction on the pie, and that the
    'outflow' isn't off at dsome distance?

    I've seen instances where a homeowner has the city shut off the
    water service coming into the house (out at the street) (to do some
    major interior re-plumbing) -- only to have the neighbours complain
    that _they_ have no water. (This in a community that used "Flat Rate"
    water billing.) It was one service pipe coming from the street, with
    a "T" installed somewhere inside the property line, and a second pipe
    running to the other, later-built house.

    So, some long forgotten re-work on that line could be the problem.
    Especially if it was a Rube Goldberg Job with sub-standard materials
    and/or workmanship.

    HTH
    Jonesy
     
  5. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    From crushed ice from freezer and cooking salt
    about 500 g to 0.5 Lt made up freezing solution and placed in plastic
    trough.
    Monitoring with thermometer the pipe froze up in about
    30 to 45 minutes at about -15 degree C.
     
  6. N Cook

    N Cook Guest


    Unlikely as consistently the leak is 0.26 +- 0.02 Lt per minute day or night
     
  7. What about pushing rods into the ground and measuring the resistance between
    them, or something like that. The idea being that the wet ground will
    conduct much better.

    WT
     
  8. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    Did that this pm.
    Assorted readings mainly in hundreds of kilohms and one area showing about
    500 ohms so dug down to the pipe and nothing found.
     
  9. Radioactive Isotope tracer?

    --
    Joe Leikhim K4SAT
    "The RFI-EMI-GUY"

    The Lost Deep Thoughts By: Jack Handey
    Before a mad scientist goes mad, there's probably a time
    when he's only partially mad. And this is the time when he's
    going to throw his best parties.
     
  10. Sounds like you are spending a lot of time on it, why not cut the losses and
    call in someone with the specialised instrument. They can pinpoint a leak
    fairly quickly (15min or less).
     
  11. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    There's only one (very dry ) section left , under the external door. I
    suspect
    there must be a 'T' there running off to anybody's guess where but otherwise
    redundent and a
    leak along there or perhaps just folded over end rather than capped off.
     
  12. Michael Gray

    Michael Gray Guest

    Have you considered using smoke to test for leaks?
    http://www.hurcotech.com/
     
  13. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    I did consider digging out an air pump , turning off the supply at the
    pavement
    and blowing air back into the piping to see if it would whistle where the
    leak is.
     
  14. Bill Jeffrey

    Bill Jeffrey Guest

    Good idea. Can the suspect section of the pipe be sealed off, dried
    out, and put under air pressure? In the US, anyway, standard fittings
    for pressurizing water pipe are available at Home Depot etc (you have an
    equivalent in the UK). They are used by both water-plumbers and
    gas-plumbers to insure pipe integrity. Go into any new-construction
    house where the plumbing has been roughed out ...

    Of course, as someone else noted, this is all getting more elaborate
    than it may be worth.

    Bill
     
  15. Michael Gray

    Michael Gray Guest

    Listening for potentially non-existent whistles, is about 90% less
    reliable than looking for smoke.
    Plumbers often put peppermint essence in smoke, so that if it can't be
    seen, there is a very good chance it can be smelled.

    Plumbers have been using this method for hundreds of years, and have
    yet to change it, for the good reason that it works.
    And it's cheap.

    Why re-invent the wheel?
    Your local plumbing supplier should have smoke bombs for this very
    purpose.
     
  16. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    I will look into that as interesting solution , although not this time as
    I've traced the leak
    but such a system would have avoided a couple of excavations.
     
  17. quietguy

    quietguy Guest

    Depending on how deep your pipe is, one of those garden moisture meters might
    help - either just shoeve it into the soil and look for the point at which
    moisture is max, or use a post hole digger (2inch) to do holes every foot of
    so in the suspect area and measure soil moisture - might work.

    David
     
  18. Asimov

    Asimov Guest

    "N Cook" bravely wrote to "All" (16 Sep 05 11:37:48)
    --- on the heady topic of "Detecting a water leak electronically ?"

    NC> From: "N Cook" <>
    NC> Xref: core-easynews sci.electronics.repair:342275


    NC> By excavating pits and freezing the pipe I localised down to a 20 foot
    NC> run and then a 10 foot run. I've now dug 2 more pits so about 3 foot
    NC> apart in that 10 foot. 3 gallons of water an hour is just disappearing
    NC> with no trace emerging along pipe or into holes.


    NC> While I wait for more water to freeze in the freezer to
    NC> localise a bit more, anyone any ideas for electronically/
    NC> audibly trying to localise the leak. A listening stick made from a
    NC> steel rod and a wooden drawer knob certainly works against anywhere
    NC> on the pipe (thats the problem ,anywhere ,
    NC> and much same level) but nothing through the soil


    I would try something like using 2 cheap electret (or piezo disk)
    elements stuck onto the end of a couple of rods and listening to the
    amplified signal through stereo headphones. In theory the idea would
    be to adjust the balance with a known tone to give an equal output,
    then push the rods into the ground and listen to any difference. This
    being based on the principle that the brain descriminates stereo
    localization better than any instrument. Just an idea...

    A*s*i*m*o*v

    .... That was a fascinating period of time for electronics
     
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