Pipe leak detection in Union, Kentucky
I was called out to perform a pipe leak detection at a home in Union, Kentucky to find a water leak that had started the prior week. The owner mentioned that the plumber, Jolly Plumbing of Wilder, Kentucky, had dropped by to preview the situation and had found a wet spot near a rose bush. The meter was roughly 50 ft out from the front of the house, located between the sidewalk and the street. The house was elevated about 3 ft above the street level. The water service was a 3/4″ Copper line, which allowed me to use my utility location equipment to indicate the exact path of the water line before beginning the process of listening. I started my work with painting the water service location using my utility locator, then checked sound at the meter and the inside water shut off valve with ultrasonic listening equipment. Checking at these two locations provides an initial overview of where to look. If there’s a lot of noise at either location, that indicates the leak is nearby. If the sound level is really close at both points, the leak location is probably going to be in the middle, which was the case! I started mid-way, which was close to the rose bush that Jolly plumbing pointed out, but found no noise. I listened at several other spots, by pushing the listening probe down into the ground roughly 1 ft. Still no noise. I then connected an air compressor to the system to agitate the leak and listened with that in operation, starting at the rose bush and working back toward the home. I found three places with elevated sound levels and marked each. I then pushed a ground probe a little further into the ground to allow for an 18″ depth and probed again at each point and found the location in the middle to have a substantially higher level of 95 decibels, while the other two, which were only 2 feet away on each side, had only 45 decibels. The next step involves running helium and locating it as it comes up through the ground with a helium gas tracer, or electronic sniffer. I first restarted the air compressor and walked outside to get the helium tank. As I walked by the garden where the holes in the ground were, it was very obvious where the leak was because you could hear the compressed air bubbling up through the middle hole. At that point I stopped testing as the bubbling air, which only occurs occasionally, took the place of running the helium. The following Email was received by my client the following day: “Thank you much! Jolly (Plumbing) was so impressed with how you were able to locate the leak dead on. It was over 6 feet down and they came out 15 minutes after you left so we are in good shape. Thanks again!” -This is why I love my job!!