If your water bill is skyrocketing, you start smelling mould or perhaps you notice actual pools of water starting to form at various points in your house, then you likely have a leak in your plumbing. The first thing you should do is turn off your water (so that the damage is limited) and then call for your local plumber. But how exactly do plumbers find out where the leak is? Here are some water leak detection tips and tricks that the professionals use to help fix your house up.
If you live in an old home that hasn't had its plumbing upgraded in many years, then the first water leak detection your plumber will do is to simply check what material your pipes are made of. If it is mostly cast iron pipes, then you could be in for a rude awakening. Almost all leaks found in public waterways and mains are from cast iron pipes that age badly and spring leaks. If your home has a partial cast iron system, then that is where your plumber will likely start their search (if the leak is not immediately obvious).
If a leak is not visible from the surface, then one way of detecting a water leak is through the use of an acoustic microphone. Cameras can be tricky to get into tight spaces, which means that if you can detect leaks without having to remove any part of the wall, then that is preferable. Acoustic microphones have extremely high-tech audio sensors that can pinpoint where the leak is by listening for an abnormal sound. This is easiest with pressurised pipes (most homes have these), as the additional pressure creates a louder noise when there is a leak. This allows acoustic microphones to differentiate the leak from the background noise and locate the leak in record time.
Sometimes leaks are tiny, which makes them practically impossible to find. One way that plumbers have adapted to this is by using specialised gas to find these miniature holes with a high level of accuracy. To do this, the plumbers let a small amount of gas (that is safe to both humans and the environment) into your plumbing system. They then have a highly tuned sensor that detects whether any of the gas that was pumped into the plumbing has leaked. When they find a high concentration of the gas along your pipeline, they have found the almost invisible leak.