May 17, 2024

Leaks are one of the most common and most serious plumbing problems. Even a small leak has the potential to cause severe water damage or also damage your home’s structure. As such, it’s important that you hire a plumber to perform a leak detection service any time you suspect your plumbing system is leaking. Here, we’ll explain what methods plumbers use for detecting different types of hidden leaks and also the signs that can tell you that your plumbing system is leaking.

Professional Leak Detection Options

If you suspect there is a leak in your home, it will usually be necessary to have a plumber locate exactly where it is. This is especially true in the Las Vegas area where a large percentage of homes are built with a concrete slab foundation. With this type of foundation, many of the water and drain lines are underneath the home due to the lack of a basement or crawlspace. This obviously makes spotting a leak and locating the source much more difficult than when the water lines run through the basement ceiling. This issue is why plumbers will typically use any of the following methods that allow them to quickly detect a leak and pinpoint exactly where it is.

Thermal Imaging

A thermal imaging camera is an extremely useful tool that can allow a plumber to quickly find a leak underneath a home’s foundation or within any walls. This type of camera senses temperatures and produces a colored image that reveals any hot and cold spots. If a cold water pipe or a drain pipe is leaking, the water will usually show up as a blue area on the image. This is because it is colder than the surrounding area or materials. A leak in a hot water line will show up on the image as red or orange since it is much warmer.

Thermal imaging is usually one of the most effective methods for detecting an underground slab leak. A thermal imaging camera can’t “see” through concrete. Nonetheless, it will still usually reveal visible heat signatures. Hot and cold water pipes underneath the slab give off heat or cold which makes the concrete a different temperature from the surrounding area. If the plumber sees a hot or cold spot that spreads out in a wider area, it’s a fairly obvious indication that the pipe in that area is leaking.

Acoustic Leak Detection

Another extremely useful method for locating a slab leak or any other hidden leak is acoustic leak detection. With this method, the plumber will place a special device known as a listening disc against the floor or wall. They will use headphones to listen for the sound of a leak. This disc is extremely sensitive and can pick up even the faintest sounds. If all of the plumbing fixtures in the home are shut off, there won’t be any water running or flowing through any of the pipes. If the plumber hears the sound of running water or any dripping, it allows them to immediately determine that there is a leak. The sound will get louder the closer the listening disc is to the leak, which also enables the plumber to almost exactly pinpoint where the leak is.

Soil Probe

A minor leak in a home’s main water line or an underground sprinkler line can also be quite difficult to detect. One option in this situation is to use a soil probe, which is another method of acoustic leak detection. The probe allows a plumber to essentially listen for vibrations underneath the ground that occur when water leaks out of a pressurized water line. The vibrations can usually be heard up to several feet away and will continually grow louder the closer the probe gets to the source of the leak. This allows the plumber to determine exactly where the leak is without needing to dig up the entire yard. It also makes it easier to fix the leak since most minor leaks can be stopped without needing to replace the entire water line.

Sewer Camera Inspection

If a plumber suspects that your main sewer line is leaking or damaged, they will usually check the pipe by using a waterproof fiber-optic camera. The plumber will access the sewer line through a cleanout or possibly from inside the house. They’ll run the camera throughout the entire length of the pipe while watching the video feed to check the condition of the pipe and identify areas where it is leaking. This is also extremely useful since many times trenchless sewer line repair can be used to fix the pipe without having to do much or any digging in the yard.

How a Plumber Repairs a Leak

Once a plumber detects and locates the leak, the method they will use to repair it depends on the type of pipe and how big the leak is. A small leak in a plastic pipe like a drain pipe or main water line can sometimes be fixed by simply patching it. That said, the best solution for repairing most leaks is for the plumber to cut out the damaged section of pipe and then replace it. For copper pipes, this can be done by soldering couplings to attach the new piece of pipe to the existing pipe or by using special compression couplings. For PVC piping, the couplings and new piece of pipe will need to be glued together.

How to Spot the Signs of a Hidden Plumbing Leak

While you will generally always need to hire a plumber to repair and possibly find any leaks, there are still many signs that can tell you when professional leak detection is necessary. One obvious sign that you have a leaking water line is if your water bill is suddenly much higher than normal. Even a tiny pinhole leak will often waste several thousand gallons of water in just one month.

If there is a leak behind a wall or anywhere else inside your home, you will often notice that your home is much more humid than normal. Visible mold growth, moldy or musty odors and yellow or brown spots on a wall or ceiling are also good indications of a leak. In some cases, you may also notice that paint starts bubbling or peeling or wallpaper is starting to come away from the wall.

Unfortunately, many slab leaks can remain undetected until they cause the home to start settling. This can eventually lead to cracks forming on walls or doors and windows no longer opening or closing properly. If there is a slab leak in a hot or cold water line, you may also notice that one part of the floor feels hotter or colder than the rest.

Trust the Professionals

BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair has been helping Las Vegas area residents with their plumbing issues since 2016. We specialize in leak detection and repairs as well as all other types of plumbing repairs and installation services. We’re also the area’s top choice if you need any heating, air conditioning or indoor air quality service. If you suspect that you’re plumbing system is leaking, contact us today to get the expert help you need.

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