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Common Signs Of A Leaking Pool

Water loss is the most obvious sign of a leaking pool, but are you able to recognize the other common symptoms? Watching out for these signs at your customers’ pools can help them get ahead of further damage and puts you in the position to he the hero that can solve the problem!

infographic showing the common signs of a leaking pool

1. Water Level Changes

Dropping water level is the clearest sign a pool is leaking, but it’s important to determine if the water loss is due to evaporation or a leak. Evaporation rates vary depending on wind, air and water temperature, humidity, and other factors. Use our Evaporation Calculator to see the evaporation rate in your area based current weather data. Water loss in excess of that amount indicates that the pool is leaking.

2. Cracks or Falling Tile

Because the surrounding ground is becoming unsettled by the presence of excess water, cracks and tile movement are more likely to occur when a pool is leaking. Cracks or gaps in the bond beam may occur as the pool settles farther into the softened ground.

3. Wet Spots in Yard

Soft, mushy spots or uneven grass growth around the pool area may indicate a plumbing leak. Erosion due to water movement underground can cause landscaping to shift and sink.

4. High Water Bills

Automatic fill devices can hide leaks by keeping the pool filled. If you notice the autofill running constantly or increased water bills it’s time to start investigating for a leak.

5. Water Under Equipment

Standing water or corrosion at the pump or around pipes is a sure sign of a leak. Equipment leaks can often be found with just visual inspection.

6. Air or Dirt Blown Into Pool

If air or dirt is being pulled into the plumbing system through a leak, you may see that air or dirt being blown into the pool from the returns. This may also cause mysterious gurgling sounds.

7. Algae Growth

Continually adding new, untreated water to a leaking pool often leads to fluctuating chemical consumption and algae growth or discoloration. Instead of continuing to treat the water, finding and repairing a leak may be the solution.


Understanding “No Water Loss” Leakalyzer Tests

While Leakalyzer tests that show water loss are extremely valuable for more efficiently locating leaks, using the Leakalyzer to identify when no water loss is happening is just as valuable.  One of the biggest wastes of time for a leak detector is trying to find a leak that doesn’t exist. But, leaks aren’t the only factors that cause a change in water level, and homeowners can be quick to call for help without considering the other factors that may be at play. In these situations the Leakalyzer can help confirm if in fact the pool is leaking before starting work. Or, once a leak has been found and repaired, a no water loss test can confirm that your repair is holding and that no other leaks are present.

Even though it seems like reading these tests should be straight forward, the Leakalyzer is so sensitive that minuscule changes in water level that are smoothed out during a water loss test show up more significantly on a no water loss test, making the trend harder to identify. The spikes that show up on the graph in these situations don’t mean it’s a bad test, they just show that the Leakalyzer is being extremely accurate. Because of the movement in pools, the water level is constantly going up and down slightly. Remember, the Leakalyzer is able to measure water level changes down to the 10,000th of an inch (the size of a red blood cell!), so you’ll see these tiny changes on your graph.

When looking at the graph, the ability to identify trends is the key to effective use and interpretation. You’re trying to look past the up and down spikes to identify if as a whole they are trending flat or downward. For instance, if you are 10 or 15 minutes into the test and still consistently spiking on either side of zero or the evaporation mark it is most likely a no water loss situation. However, if the test is going up and down but both the highs and the lows are consistently getting lower there is most likely a leak.

Another aspect to watch is the scale of the graph.  The scale automatically adjusts based on the measurements that the Leakalyzer is recording. Sometimes when the pool isn’t losing water, the ups and downs on the graph can look drastic, but the scale of the graph is still at 0 to 30. This makes for very dramatic spikes with very little actual change in the water level.  Zooming out to a 120 or 240 scale causes those spikes to look more realistic, and will help identify a flat line trend.  Remember, a measurement of 100 on the scale is only equal to the thickness of a sheet of paper! Take a look at the below graphs to understand how the scale affects no water loss tests.


Common Skimmer Repair Solutions

Skimmers are one of the more complex plumbing components in the pool and when they leak many contractors default to suggesting a full replacement. But if you have the right repair materials you can offer repair options that will save your customers this big expense and build their trust in you for future jobs. We’ve outlined repair solutions for some of the most common skimmer leaks below.

Mouth

On concrete pools, epoxy putty is a versatile option for repairing small cracks where the skimmer mouth meets the shell of the pool. Leakmaster Quick Set or Pool Repair putties are a cost-effective, convenient choice, while the color selection and workability of A+B Putty makes a good choice when aesthetics is especially important.  Putty is so inexpensive that many leak detectors include putty repair as part of the detection cost.  It is, however, a somewhat temporary repair and may have to be replaced seasonally.

A more permanent solution for skimmer mouth issues is to use a foam injection process to seal the cracks and fill voids around the skimmer body.  Closed cell urethane foam fills and stabilizes voids around the skimmer body to make sure that further damage doesn’t occur while also sealing leaks around the mouth. Our complete Crack Repair Starter Kit includes everything you need to to do a skimmer injection plus tools to expand into concrete crack injection, or our Skimmer Injection Kit provides the materials you need to inject 2-3 skimmers without an investment in the more expensive tools needed for crack injection.

Throat

For a cracked fitting or pipe within the first six inches from the bottom of the skimmer bowl, the Skimmer Saver is a unique and easy option. Part of the popular Fitting Saver line, this device allows water to bypass the cracked area of the plumbing while still maintaining regular circulatory function. It can be used as a permanent repair or as a temporary solution until another repair can be done.

Bowl/Body

Due to movement in the ground around the pool, skimmer bowls are especially susceptible to cracks that can be particularly challenging to repair. Leakmaster Pool Glue  provides a versatile solution. The two-part glue hardens like an epoxy putty but is much more adhesive, meaning it will be able to weather the movement of the pool without coming loose. While it’s able to seal smaller cracks on its own, it can also be used with fiberglass mesh strips for extra reinforcement on large cracks. Check out this video to see how the repair is done.


Check us out in Pool Pro Magazine!

Anderson Manufacturing was recently featured in an article about leak detection in Pool Pro Magazine. The article explores some of the things to consider when making the decision to add leak detection as a service offering.

We believe that if you’re determined and willing to learn, leak detection can be a profitable and rewarding service offering for your company. As mentioned in the article, all of our training materials are available for free in our Resource Center and we also offer in-house training. If you’re looking to purchase equipment we have pre-set packages to get you started or you can give us a call to put together a custom package that’s perfectly suited to your needs. We value the opportunity to be your partner in leak detection success!


Troubleshooting Underground Pipe Leaks

 

There is no question that pinpointing underground pipe leaks in swimming pool plumbing can be tricky, especially when first starting out. While many different scenarios pose many different challenges, generally issues with pinpointing leaks fall into one of two categories:

  1. Not hearing a noise
  2. Hearing a noise in a large area and having trouble narrowing it down

Below are a few solutions to these common issues.

If You Can’t Hear A Noise:

First of all, don’t overlook just turning up the volume on your listening device. This can often be the fix for deeper leaks. However, more often than not adjusting your technique to make the correct leak noise is the solution to the problem. Remember, the noise you’re trying to achieve is a distinct bubbling gurgling noise that comes from air escaping through the leak into water saturated soil. For a refresh of the basics of this technique check out our “Pipe Leak Location” slideshow in the Resource Center. Below are the two most common problems that keep you from making a good leak noise.

1. Air is not reaching the leak

Even though air is being induced into the plumbing, it may not be reaching the leak due to leftover water in the pipe. Especially if the leak is on the bottom of the pipe or in a lower section of the plumbing it can take a long time for the induced air to push all the water out of the leak. Remember that water in the pipe will stay at the bottom of and in low sections of plumkbing.  Air can only reach the leak if all of the water above leak level has been purged from the line. Only once you’re sure that air is escaping from the leak is it time to start listening. There are two ways to be more confident that air is reaching the leak:

  • One way to be sure air is reaching the leak is to remove the lowest plug from the line and completely purge all the water out of the line with air before reinstalling the plug and building air pressure. Since the location of the leak and how the plumbing runs is unknown at this point this can be a time-saving solution.
  • Another way to make sure air has reached the leak is to slowly push the remaining water out through the leak by inducing air into the line. Once enough water has been pushed out and air starts escaping from the leak you’ll see a dramatic drop in pressure on your pressure gauge. This happens because air escapes from a leak faster than water does, so when the air reaches the leak that cushion of air escapes rapidly . . producing the telltale pressure drop. Once this happens it’s time to start listening. On top of not having to remove and then replace plugs, another benefit to this approach is that you further saturate the soil outside of the leak, producing a better environment for a better noise. For safety, always watch the pressure gauge so that too much pressure doesn’t build up.

2. The soil is not saturated with water

Once you know that air has reached the leak, if you still can’t hear a noise you may be dealing with a situation where the soil is not saturated enough with water. If this is the case there are a few options:

  • The first option would be to saturate or re-saturate the soil by inducing more water into the pipe and letting it escape out through the leak. Once the soil is saturated, switch back to inducing air and listen with your listening device.
  • If you are in a situation where there has been washout or the pipe is in gravel-y soil it can be difficult to maintain saturation outside of the pipe.  In this case a technique of inducing water from the lower end of the plumbing and air from the high end with the goal of making them meet at the leak can make a great noise. You will need two means of inducing pressure, but this is a technique that can be quite effective.  This is often used on big breaks in lines where you can’t even build up pressure. If it is a smaller leak; take extra care to not build up too much pressure, this would be an indication that water is being put into the line faster than it is escaping and that air can no longer reach the leak . If you see the pressure gauge rising reduce the rate of water flow into the line.

If You Hear A Noise Everywhere:

Many times the leak noise is so loud that it can be heard in a large area, so honing in on the precise location is a challenge. Like above, volume controls can help. Just turning the volume down can reduce the area in which you can hear the leak. Also adjusting the amount of air being induced might give us a more distinct or crisp bubble or gurgle sound. If you’re still hearing the noise in a large area, these are some things to keep in mind as you listen:

  • The noise should be loudest AND clearest where the leak is. As you listen, don’t just look for loudest but also the clearest sound.  Just as sound levels soften the further you get away, sounds also begin to muffle and aren’t as clear the further you get from the spot.
  • Find and mark the outer edges of the sound area. As you move around you will eventually see a drop off in noise volume. Marking these boundaries can give you a good visual of where the center or source of the leak noise is.
  • Using the Frequency Filters on your XLT30 or XLT17 is one of the best ways to hone in on the leak sound. These filters provide significant help in reducing the search area, minimizing background noise and helping us hear a clear and distinct sound. For more detailed information on using filters check out this blog post.

Understanding Frequency Filters on Electronic Listening Devices

Ever have trouble honing in on an underground pipe leak?  Understanding how to use the frequency filters on an electronic listening device can greatly increase accuracy in underground pipe leak location.  Once the correct noise is being made at the leak and the volume of the listening device is set properly, adjusting the frequency filters can provide a great advantage in identifying the leak sound and pinpointing the exact location.

Inducing air into a leaking underground plumbing line will produce a sound right at the leak’s location where the air escapes into water saturated soil. This noise at the leak is a distinct gurgling noise that produces sounds in most of the audible frequency ranges. Understanding those frequencies can help identify the exact location of the pipe leak.  To illustrate this idea, think of a leak noise like a choir.  In a choir you hear the song being sung as a whole but it is made up of different parts: sopranos (high frequencies), altos, tenors and bases (low frequencies).  Manipulating the filters on an XLT17 or XLT30H can focus in on a specific frequency and which is beneficial for eliminating background noise and zeroing in on the leak.

How to identify which frequency range to choose  has to do with how sounds travel.  Low frequency sounds travel further than high frequencies. This is evident at an outdoor concert.  Approaching the concert from a long ways away, the first noise that you’ll hear is the base due to its low frequency. The other higher frequency ranges aren’t heard until getting closer to the stage – the source of the sound. When listening for a leak noise, starting on a low frequency allows us to hear noises in a broader area. Then, once a leak noise is identified in a broad area, switching to a higher filter blocks out the lower frequencies in order to get closer to the leak.

Filtering can also help limit unwanted background noise in order to hear the sound of the leak more distinctly. Often times the hum of an air conditioner, electrical noise, or even cars on a freeway can be distracting when listening for a swimming pool pipe leak.  While unfortunately there is no “air conditioner button”, by using the frequency filters to block out the frequency range that is most distracting, the leak noise we’re listening for becomes clearer.  The XLT30H even has a specific adjustable notch filter for this purpose.

In general the leak noise should be the loudest right on top of the leak. In addition to being loud the leak noise will also be the most clear or distinct right over the leak.  Sound waves will get muffled or disrupted the further they have to travel.  Like at the outdoor concert, the overall sound may be heard from farther away than the actual words being sung. Listen not just for the loudest noise but the clearest and most distinct sound.

It takes time to play around with the different filtering options in order to understand how they impact leak noise. If you’re just getting started with leak detection, take some extra time during your next sonic location to play around with the filters on your listening device. Every job is also a learning opportunity!


Case Study: Persistence Pays Off

 

Type of Pool:

Gunite Spa/Pool

Equipment Used:

LeakalyzerXLT30H, Hydrophone ,Dye, Ridgid Inspection Scope,  Ridgid Micro Drain Reel, Pressure Testing Equipment, Dye Testing Cones

Situation:

The customer called because their pool would leak down to the tile line and stop, so they wanted us to locate the leak and asses the tile line to determine if a full renovation was needed. When we got to the pool the water level was filled to the normal level as we requested, but the customer pointed out where it would typically leak down to which was an inch below the skimmer, but a couple inches above the jets. It seemed as though we were in for a quick tile line crack location and putty repair.

Solution:

We ran a Leakalyzer test to get a better understanding of how fast the pool was losing water and while doing so started listening with a hydrophone to the suspected tile line. A quick trip around the pool with the hydrophone didn’t uncover any suspect areas. We moved on to dye testing because sometimes small leaks don’t make enough noise for the hydrophone. After dye testing the whole tile line we were able to confirm that there were no leaks in the shell of the pool at the level where the water drained down to. It turns out this job was going to be a little more complicated than we thought!

We checked our ongoing Leakalyzer test which was showing a current rate of over 20” per day of water loss (small pool, big leak). To do a quick check of the plumbing lines we used the Dye Tester Cones and learned that the jet returns drew dye like crazy. Because the water level stopped higher than the jets we began to suspect the blower line instead of the jet return line. A pressure test confirmed the suspected line was leaking as we couldn’t even build any pressure. A Leakalyzer test with the jet returns plugged confirmed the rest of the pool was not losing water, so we knew we could be done with any further testing in the shell of the pool.

Since the equipment pad was positioned lower than the pool, in order to induce air from the high side of the plumbing we had to use one of the jet returns. When we started listening with the XLT30H there was a loud noise right above where we were inducing pressure that actually seemed to echo throughout the pool. There were two places that seemed louder and more distinct than the other areas though: the jet fitting and a place where the pipes presumably ran underneath the pool. We deduced that even though we were inducing from the high side of the plumbing, since the leak was in the blower line the air had to travel through remaining water in the jet line, creating some of and perhaps all the noise we were hearing. To confirm this suspicion, we switched and induced pressure from the other side of the plumbing. After this switch the sound in those two locations went silent. This confirmed we were hearing the sound of air traveling through remaining water in the pipe and not air escaping out of the leak into water saturated soil.

The lack of noise around the pool forced us to look closer to the equipment which would mean that the leak had to be well below where the water level stopped.  It turned out there was a Hartford Loop for the blower line, but it wasn’t high enough and thus didn’t stop water from draining back through until the water level reached the familiar point on the tile.  We suspect someone made a modification to the blower plumbing at some point for aesthetic reasons and buried the loop without understanding its purpose.

Building enough pressure for a quick sonic location was difficult and since we had easy access to the flexpipe  we used a Ridgid Micro Drain Scope and a line locator to pinpoint the exact location. About 15 feet in we saw what appeared to be a cracked pipe due to freeze damage.

To verify the crack we saw was our leak, water was induced into the blower line from the high side of the plumbing and we pulled that camera back towards the low side of the plumbing watching for the water flow to stop.  Sure enough the water was flowing into this crack.  The crack was dye tested with extension tubing from Anderson Manufacturing affixed to the end of the camera. The dye was drawn into the crack a well. The crack was about 8’ long and on both sides of the pipe – so no wonder we couldn’t build pressure!

Learnings:

  1. Just because water stops at the tile line doesn’t mean it’s the tile line that’s leaking!
  2. Inducing pressure from both ends of plumbing can be a way to verify if you’re hearing a leak noise vs air traveling through water in pipe. If noise is only audible when you induce from one end it may be standing water in the pipe not air escaping into water saturated soil.
  3. Dye Tester Extension Tubing can be taped to inspection cameras for leak verification or location.
  4. Persistence paid off, but this one was a bit misleading and ended up being time consuming. Some leaks are more tricky than others!

 


Understanding the Winter Blow-out Process

What happens underground in the winterizing process?  By setting up a clear PVC pipe system we can visualize the process and some of the challenges to winterizing pipes.   This demonstration shows us that effectively utilizing the proper equipment and  technique for blowing out plumbing lines is crucial for consistent, successful winterization. It is important to understand the three main phases of the process:

    • Water purge phase
    • Line clear phase
    • Sealing/securing phase

In the water purge phase, the water that fills the lines is “pushed” out of the pipe and replaced with air.  Several factors are important to accomplish this part of the process effectively.  First of all, the air source you use must provide enough air pressure to counter the back pressure of the water in the pool.  When blowing out return lines this is a pretty low threshold, however when purging water from the main drain line a minimum of 4 psi of pressure must be achieved to push against the 8 feet of water in many deep ends.  The second important factor during the purge phase is the amount of water flow that can be pushed through your blow-out plugs.  The wider these plugs open under the appropriate pressure the more water you will be able to clear from the line at a fast rate.

The line clearing phase happens after most of the water has been purged from the lines but may still remain in low parts of the plumbing.  Your ability to generate a high air flow rate through the purged lines is the critical factor in successfully blowing this remaining water from these locations.  Choose an air source that delivers at least 100 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air flow – most compressors only produce 2-5 cfm so you will need a blower.  And again, use blow-out plugs that open wide at low back pressure to assure that the blower’s power can be realized as flow through the pipes.  On return lines with more than one return branching off the main line, strong air flow to the farthest branch can be achieved by blocking the flow of cleared branches earlier in the run.

Once the lines have been cleared of water they must remain so over the course of the winter, so the plugs must effectively seal to prevent water from re-entering the plumbing from the pool.  It’s still a good idea to pour antifreeze into the cleared lines just in case undiscovered cracked fittings, damaged threads, or badly installed plugs allow some water back in.   After pouring antifreeze into the cleared line, turn the blower back on just long enough to see it blown into the pool through your blow-out plugs.  The remaining anti-freeze will settle into low spots in the plumbing  . . . just the spots that would be prone to problems if water got in.

Anderson’s Big Blue Blower and Winter Duck Plugs deliver the performance you need to assure each phase of the blow-out process is done effectively.  The blower produces enough pressure “umph” to blow-out even the deepest main drain and provides an exceptional amount of air flow to clear all low spots in plumbing.  Winter Duck Plugs open wide at low back pressures to clear lines quickly during the water purge phase and enable high air flow during the line clearing phase.  Additionally, they can be easily blocked during this clearing phase with simple office binder clips to facilitate flow to all branches of the return system.  Most importantly, over the past 10+ years, Winter Duck Plugs have proven themselves dependable at keeping water out of lines and protecting thousands of pools from winter freeze damage.

For a comparison of how  Winter Duck Plugs compare to other blow-out plugs on the market see the results of our testing here.


How to Gather Good Information for Efficient Leak Jobs

An efficient leak detection job starts well before you open the gate to your customer’s back yard.  You can save a great deal of time by gathering and processing information about the suspected leak before the job is even scheduled. Make a practice of purposefully communicating with the pool owner to accomplish the following 3 objectives as the first part of your leak detection process.

 

1. Make sure there really is a leak

Sometimes customers are concerned about water loss that may be the result of something besides a leak.  Evaporation, splash-out, or even miscommunications about when a backwash was performed can result in panicked calls to a leak professional.  It’s hard to charge for a leak job if there isn’t really a problem (even after you’ve spent a lot of time looking for the non-existent leak), so it’s important to ask enough questions upfront to eliminate the possibility that the symptom they describe is anything but a leak. It’s also a good idea to schedule jobs far enough out to give the customer time to do a Bucket Test for themselves to confirm the water loss they are observing is not just due to evaporation.

Example Questions to Ask:
  • Why do you think you have a leak?
  • When did the problem start?
  • How much loss are you experiencing per day?
  • When is the last time you backwashed the pool?

 

 2. Collect key facts that allow you to start processing the problem before you get to the pool

Leak detection is as much mental as it is physical .  Your observations and tests at the pool are just one source of clues that can lead you to solving the elusive problem.  By asking strategic questions of the pool owner before you get to the job, you can start thinking about and solving the problem even while you are driving. Knowing when the pool was built, who built it, how it is used, and when it started leaking can provide clues to where the leak will be, especially as you start building a mental database of previous leaks you’ve found.  Other information about the nature of the problem, like whether it leaks more with the pump on or off, will also help to establish what part of the pool may be the most suspect.

Example Questions to Ask:
  • How far down have you let the water level go?
  • Does the pool have any unique features such as an attached spa, waterfall, or in-floor cleaning system?
  • When was the pool built and who built it?
  • Who typically uses the pool and how do they use it?
  • Have there been any unusual events associated with the pool recently?
  • Have you recently had repairs or construction work done in or around the pool?

 

3. Clearly establish what the expectations are for the condition of, and access to the pool

Generally the tests you do on site will require that the pool be filled to its normal operating level. Make sure the customer knows this.  You may also have to get in the pool for inspection and repair, so it’s a good idea to request the pool be clean and warm if possible.  Of course, you can’t work on a pool that you can’t get to, so make sure the customer provides information on how to access the pool in case they aren’t there.  It’s easy to assume that these simple and common sense issues will be obvious, but a few wasted trips to a pool reinforce the fact that it’s better to err on the side of over-communication.

Example Questions to Ask:
  • Is the pool filled to its normal level?
  • Do I need any keys or codes to access the pool and equipment?
  • Is the pool clean?
  • Will you be home when I’m working on the pool? If not, how can I reach you during that time?

 

For more in depth discussion of the information gathering step and how it fits into the rest of the leak detection process check out the slide shows available in our resource center.


Pressure Testing Myths Busted

Pressure testing is a topic where a number of myths and misunderstandings have developed in the swimming pool industry. Below, we explain the truth behind 4 common misconceptions that should help you stay focused on efforts that will lead to leak detection success and profits.

MYTH #1: Pressure Testing is Unnecessary for Leak Detection

While you may be able to find common leaks without pressure testing, if you want to leave the pool assured that you have found all of the leaks . . . and you want to give the customer that assurance, pressure testing is critical.

There are other ways of finding easy to reach leaks in plumbing, but from the standpoint of conclusively determining if the entire line is leak free, nothing beats a properly performed pressure test.  Furthermore, despite advancements in cameras and other probes that have applications in some situations, the most common and dependable way of pinpointing leaks underground involves the use of a listening device that picks up the sound of pressurized air escaping from a leak into water saturated soil.

MYTH #2:  Air Can Be Used Interchangeably With Water for Pressure Testing

Air and water behave very differently in pressure testing situations.  Understanding three pressure testing principles that address these differences is important as you determine when to use air and when to use water to build pressure.

  1. Air compresses under pressure, water does not
  2. Air stays at the top of the pipe, water stays at the bottom
  3. Air escapes from leaks faster than water does

Our pressure testing slide show provides helpful diagrams and more explanation of how these principles affect your test results.  As a general rule it is best to use water when testing to determine if the line is leaking since it does not compress under pressure so it will show a loss in pressure quickly, even with a small loss in volume.  On the other hand, air trapped in a line can expand as water volume is lost from the leak, slowing (and sometimes completely masking) a drop in pressure. Additionally, if plugs happen to pop out under pressure they will come out with much less force if the line is pressurized with only water . . . trapped air will propel a popped plug like a cannon ball!

The main benefit of using air is that it makes a much better noise escaping from the pipe into water saturated soil than water does.  So, once you have identified a leaking section of plumbing with a water test, switch to air to produce a good noise that can be picked up by your listening device.

Myth #3: Air and Water Can Be “Mixed” in a Pressure Tester and Will Stay “Mixed” Inside the Pipe

We’ve debunked this myth by testing it on a plumbing system made of clear PVC.  Regardless of how they are transmitted into the pipe, water stays low and air stays high.  They do not stay mixed up just because they are put under pressure.  This is simple physics and anyone who says otherwise is selling you hocus-pocus.

Adding both air and water to a line is not the first step you should take when trying to make a good leak noise.  While it is indeed important for the soil to be full of water outside of the pipe where air will blow out through the leak, no noise is made unless air actually gets to the leak.  Since water stays at the bottom of the pipe and air at the top, if the leak is in the low end of the plumbing no air will get to it if you are adding both air and water.  So, all of the water above the leak level must be purged from the line before this happens. Generally this is best accomplished by removing a low plug and blowing air from the high end.  Once you see bubbles, replace the plug, set your air source regulator to maintain no higher than 5 psi, and begin listening.  Larger leaks and/or leaks in soil that drains quickly may necessitate adding water while air is going into the line.  To avoid noises inside the pipe, do this with a separate pressure tester from the low end of the plumbing.  The best results happen when air and water do not mix inside the plumbing . . . just at the leak!

MYTH #4: Certain Kinds of Gas Make Better Noises Than Others for Leak Location

Any gas escaping from a leak will make bubbling/gurgling /hissing/spotting sounds in the full range of sonic frequencies that can be picked up with a listening device.  Sometimes, leak detectors will use nitrogen tanks to deliver the gas into the line quietly (without the conflicting sound of a compressor).  However, these tanks are used not because of any special characteristic of the gas (in fact, the air we breathe is made up of 78% nitrogen) but because of its ease of availability and inexpensiveness in relation to other gasses.  SCUBA tanks adapted with an adjustable regulator can also be used if you can get them filled.  A small compressor works just fine for inducing air pressure, especially if you use a 50 foot hose that allows you  to position the compressor some distance from where you are listening.

In some situations where soil or leak conditions make it difficult to create a noise helium gas is used to find underground plumbing leaks.  In these situations a Helium Detector picks up the presence of the gas as it makes its way to the soil’s surface.  Helium is not being used because it makes a better noise, but because it can be detected by this detector.

If you have any questions about pressure testing or swimming pool leak detection, consult the Resource Center of our website or give us a call.


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