How to Detect Leaks

Leaking Faucets

Leaking faucets are generally a result of a worn rubber washer. The washer on a sink is usually located under the handle. These are relatively easy to replace, if you have the right tools. It does require shutting off the water under the sink or at the main shutoff valve and removing the handle. (Note: faucet handles are not shutoff valves.) Check your local home center or hardware store on how to repair faucet leaks.

Leaking Toilets

Toilet leaks can waste hundreds of gallons and often times are silent. Even a small leak can add up to a lot of wasted water and money over time. Fortunately, most toilet leaks are easy and inexpensive to repair.

Flapper Valve Leaks

The most common reason for a leaking toilet is one that has an improperly working or sealing flapper. The flapper is the rubber valve in the bottom of the tank that lifts up when the toilet is flushed. If the flapper is worn or cracked, it allows water to continuously flow from the tank into the toilet bowl without flushing.

Flush Handle Problems

If the handle needs to be jiggled to keep the toilet from running, the flush level bar and chain (or the handle itself) may be sticking. Adjust the nut that secures it in the toilet tank. If that does not work, the handle may have to be replaced.

Overflow Tube Leaks

Ideally the water level should be set so that is about even with the fill line on the back of the toilet tank (approximately ½” below the overflow tube). If the water is too high in the toilet tank and is spilling into the overflow tube, the water level can be adjusted by turning the adjustment screw or by very gently bending the float arm down so that the water shuts off at a level below the overflow tube.


How Electronic Leak Detection Works

When you contract with a leak detection company, the expectation is that they will identify a concealed leak as close as possible to the source, so that a repair can be made. You might think that a trained leak detection technician is only looking for water when looking for a leak, but the truth is, water isn’t always easily found. It’s technology that makes it possible to pinpoint a leak.

It might surprise you to know that sound is the key to finding concealed plumbing leaks. When a faucet is turned on it obviously creates a sound as the water is traveling through a pipe, and this is especially obvious when a fixture is turned on upstairs in a home. As water rushes through a pipe the sound can echo

throughout the plumbing system. This can also be apparent when an exterior hose bib, that exits the wall of the home, is turned on. When there is a leak in a pipe, sound is also created as the water rushes out of the leak. This can occur even when the leak is only the size of a pinhole. In these cases, the sound is usually not nearly as loud as on open faucet, so to hear the sound of the water movement technology is required.

Electronic leak detection equipment amplifies the sound of the moving water, using microphones, digital amplifiers and filters, allowing the leaking pipe to be identified. Once the leaking line is identified then the pressure in the line can be altered to create a specific sound that the technician uses to pinpoint the leak. The sound of pressure escaping from a broken pipe varies depending on the circumstances — the type of pipe, how deep the pipe is underground, if it is under concrete, asphalt, dirt, etc., how big the leak is, if there is a pool of water around the pipe, if there is a void underground, and countless other scenarios that affect the sound of a leak. Training and experience are key when effectively using electronic leak-locating equipment to detect these types of leaks.

This process is used for all types of plumbing systems, under concrete slabs, main water lines, swimming pool plumbing systems, and others. As long as a system can be isolated and pressure tested, leaks can be located using electronics. The more accurately a leak can be pinpointed, the less damage to access the leak, saving time and money.




In the old days your plumber may have used something like a doctor’s stethoscope to listen to the sounds in your walls to try and find a hidden leak, hoping to hear the drip or rush of running water where it didn’t belong. Today’s plumbers use electronic leak detection equipment, which can be a unit that is run over a flat surface that listens to all the sounds in the voids between walls and floors.


Water makes noise as it moves along, whether it is dripping, trickling, or rushing through a broken pipe. Your plumber will determine the best location to position the unit, having listened to your description of the problem.  The water leak detection unit has a transducer that serves as its microphone. It then uses a simple computer program listening for the frequencies of sound that are associated with leaking water or gas, and send that information back to the plumber.  Your experienced plumber can decipher whether they are hearing a cracked pipe, loose gasket, or a leaky faucet.  It can also determine how far away the leak may be, so the unit does not have to be positioned right above the leak.


This is a huge benefit of using electronic leak detection.  If you thought the problem of a leaking pipe was behind your shower wall, without using the leak detection a plumber may have simply ripped open your wall to find the broken pipe only to discover everything was fine. However, because the detector was able to tell your plumber, for example, that the leak was 100 feet away, they were able to save the time and money of damaging your home just trying to find the leak.  They will use their experience to accurately locate the problem the first time. If they have to expose the pipe, you will only have one hole to patch and may have saved hours in labor costs hunting down the leak.


These same techniques can be used in other pressurized systems, such as air conditioning compressors, refrigerators, and natural gas lines. The equipment must be set to detect the right kind of gas as each one makes specific sounds while moving through pipes. So, if you have a heating problem with your natural gas service, the technician may use similar instrumentation to locate the issue and repair it quickly and accurately.


If you are a DiY expert, you might be tempted to find the leak on your own.  The electronic equipment is quite expensive. Even if you find one for rent, it does take substantial training to learn how to decipher the readings and use it effectively.  This is one service where you will be better off contacting the experts and spending a little cash so you don’t end up making more holes looking for the problem yourself.


Plumbing Tips

Finding Leaks With Electronic Leak Detection

Finding a leak in hidden underground water lines can be a challenge for plumbers. Luckily electronic leak detection has become a tried-and-true method of discovering hidden leaks, using devices that detect the sound waves made by leaking water. This makes it easier for plumbing professionals to pinpoint the problem without disrupting the surrounding environment.

The Process Of Leak Location

Electronic leak detection devices locate and confirm leaks by listening to the sound of water running along the pipes, using a microphone. Your plumbing contractor will choose the best location to set up the electronic leak detection device. The sounds it records will then be transmitted to a computer program, where the plumber will analyze the information. An experienced licensed plumber will know whether the sound is from a cracked pipe or a leaking faucet. From there, they will determine the best repair technique appropriate to repair the leak

Concerned About Wall & Floor Damage?

Don’t be. Back in the day, a licensed plumber would need to rip open the wall or dig up your entire floor in order to find the location of a leak. Today, with electronic leak detection, wall and floor damage is minimal. Since the plumber determines the exact location of the leak beforehand, the part of the wall to be removed or the area of the floor that will be dug up will be smaller. A smaller hole also means bigger savings for you in terms of time and money.

Call A Licensed Vancouver Island Plumber

Conventional leak detection can be DIY. But doing it the conventional way means that you will have to tear down walls or dig the whole floor to find the exact location of the leak. For many homeowners the money saved from not hiring a contractor is immediately wasted again through the time, mess, and unintentional damage caused by trying to find and repair a leak on their own.



What is involved ?

Fresh water is a limited, sometimes even rare resource. Demographic growth and populations migrating towards the towns and their outlying areas create new needs as well as unintentional wastage. In many countries, especially the emerging countries, a huge amount of water is lost due to leaks in the production or harnessing facilities and above all in the often very extensive underground piping networks. The World Bank estimates water losses in the emerging countries to be over 40%. Reducing water losses can therefore play a major role in improving access to drinking water. Far better to start by looking for and eliminating leaks, which also prevents contamination, that to envisage building new, costly production plants.

What does this process involve ? How is it applied ?

Instruments can be used to detect and localise more precisely the leaks in the pipes. Remember however that in the old days, the leaks were sometimes only detected by an ear placed on the ground, preferably at night to avoid ambient sounds As a general rule, these instruments detect the vibrations or noises produced by the water that is escaping from pressurised pipes. These noises extend along the pipe over fairly long distances (depending on the type and diameter of the pipe) and in the surrounding ground. There are various types of detection instrument

The mechanical amplifier or sound probe

The body of the mechanical amplifier comprises the resonance box of a vibrating membrane, where the frequency can be adjusted by moving a thumbwheel.

Electronic amplifier or microphone in the ground

In an electronic amplifier, the particular hissing sound of the water leak is captured by a microphone and amplified by an electronic circuit

Acoustic correlator

Rather than using sound levels to locate a leak, the acoustic correlator uses the speed of sounds produced by the leak when they move along the pipe towards two sensors or microphones placed in connectors either side of the leak. The operating principle is the resemblance between the two signals resulting from the noise of the leak. It determines the different in propagation times of this noise towards two sensors placed at each end of the section of pipe being checked.