Wave Goodbye to Water Leaks

A faster, easier system of detecting leaks in water pipes was developed in England through use of a device that makes pressure waves.

by / August 8, 2012
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A new device that allows for quick detection of leaks in water pipes was developed by researchers in England and is now being tested, reported GizMag.com. Researchers at the University of Sheffield said their device, which uses pressure waves to detect the location of leaks, could replace the cumbersome acoustic systems commonly used now.

"We are very excited by the results we’ve achieved so far,” said James Shucksmith, who led the trial. “We are able to identify the location of leaks much more accurately and rapidly than existing systems are able to, meaning water companies will be able to save both time and money in carrying out repairs."

The device works by being fitted to a standard water hydrant and then a valve is rapidly opened and closed, creating a pressure wave that moves down the pipe. When the wave meets a crack or hole in the pipe's surface, part of the wave is reflected back to the device to be analyzed, revealing the location and size of the leak. The system can be calibrated onsite, factoring in the size of the pipe and the speed of the pressure wave.

The prototype device was able to detect leaks in cast iron pipes with an accuracy within 3.3 feet and leaks in plastic pipes were located to within 7.8 inches. Detailed results of the trial were published in the Journal - American Water Works Association.