How Plumbers Look for Leaks
We’ve all had those mysterious leaks that we just can’t solve. Tracking these can sometimes be a pain, but a plumber will use the right techniques to make it as pain-free as possible.
With Helium and Hydrogen
Located at number 1 and 2 on the periodic table, these gaseous elements are as small as you can get, which means if there’s a leak in your pipes, they’ll go through it. Plumbers will pump the gas into your pipes, then use gas detection tools to find any helium or hydrogen that finds its way out. This non-destructive method allows them to pinpoint leaks through concrete, walls, and even asphalt.
This is similar to gas detection, but is done on sewers where the gas doesn’t have to go through water. The smoke runs through the drain pipes and finds any cracks or even holes in your toilet flange. It’s especially effective if you smell sewer gas, but have no idea where it’s coming from. And don’t worry about any lasting smell or effects. Plumbers will use non-toxic smoke for this test.
We’ve all seen the action movies where the SWAT team or spies use fiberoptics to look under the door before breaking it down. While not nearly as dramatic, plumbers actually use the same fiberoptic technology to find leaks. Using long, flexible cables, they can run a camera down pipes and around corners to track down leaks from the inside out. For larger pipes, they can even have small, remote-controlled cameras on wheels.
With Their Eyes
This might seem like something any of us could do, but a plumber looks at the leak with years of experience behind them. They can look at the slope of a ceiling and start tracking the damp spot backwards to possible locations. This helps them put together a list of likely candidates, then they can do a systematic search.
You might be surprised by what grabs the attention of experienced eyes. What most people think is a spot on grout, a plumber will spot as a hole where shower water gets behind the walls. A line of turquoise on the outside of a copper pipe looks like wear and tear to us, but a plumber will spot that as water running down the pipe.
With Their Mind
That doesn’t mean plumbers are psychic. It just means that they’re smart and know plumbing systems really well. Ask any plumber and they’ll have a hundred different stories of unexpected leaks, such as the seal around a roof vent that came apart, causing water to drip down it, or a leak in the back of the overflow drain on a bathtub that only occurs when the water level is high in the tub.
A plumber doesn’t like ripping holes in your ceiling or wall any more than you do. When you call them, they’ll use all of their experience, knowledge of plumbing systems, and tools to track down the leak and fix it with as little destruction as possible.