Underground Leak
8 Modern Underground Leak Detection Methods


⊕ Underground fluid containers can leak. An underground leak can occur because of things like defects, loose joints, damage, even old age just to name a few. Because of course, an underground leak is out of view, it can be difficult to detect them. Some underground leaks can lead to devastating results, such as pollution and contamination. It is imperative to locate the leaks before they cause any additional problems, such as causing a shift in the foundation of a dwelling or building.

An underground leak in domestic pipes or sub-utilities can deny you much-needed fluid pressure. It is easy to spot external leakages, but it requires an expert to discover hidden cracks, holes, fissures, or virtual leaks.

There are several methods of locating leaks. They are in two categories — internal and external systems. Here are some of the most common methods reputable leak location companies, such as Leak Locators Inc., may utilize to locate your underground leak:

Flow Monitoring

It uses a simple technique of measuring fluid pressure at various stages of a pipeline. If the pressure drops significantly, one can confirm that the leak occurs between those two points. If the pressure is constant or within the expected levels, it means the leak occurs elsewhere. Pressure can also be used in a variety of other ways. Another pressure change method involves squirting solvents in suspected leak sites while measuring pressure. Typically, this is an effective method to detect domestic leaks. Leaks along sub-units and sub-surface piping will be visible.

Pressure Waves

Acoustic Wave Detection is another name for Pressure Waves. It employs acoustic waves caused by flow disturbance after a leak. The theory behind it is that fluids tend to move uniformly in the absence of pressure changes. A leak leads to pressure breaks. Such breaks cause detectable changes. It is used in highly volatile mass fluid pipelines to detect the slightest disturbances within the pipeline. Constant changes in the carriers of domestic piping make it hard to use pressure methods.

Overpressure Methods

This method’s use is limited to external faults. However, it can provide accurate diagnostics that rule out external system leaks. When conducting a diagnostic, you must rule out all other possibilities before employing internal/underground methods. It can also help when installing gaskets, valves, joints, and connectors. A good number of faults occur at installation stage, and this method can help prevent that.

Thermography Method

Gas and oil leaks cause devastation in their wake. Some detection methods cannot work because they require instruments that can spark anytime causing a fire. In such a situation, localized infrared radiometric tests can help. While it can be a technology-intensive technique, it provides precise results that can help us to make a very informed repair or replacement plan.

Mass Spectrometer Detection

Over vacuum systems, capturing leaks through pressure flows may not work especially when the overall pressure pipeline is not uniform-fluid flow. This leaves you with other methods such as mass spectrometer or halogen leak techniques. Though the technique uses pressure, it only focuses on gaseous pressure, hence the use of a spectrometer.

Dye Penetration Method

It is an external method used to confirm the location of a confirmed leak. Some leaks are microscopic, and they are only detectable under intense pressure. Since you cannot view them with a naked eye, a low-viscosity dye works just fine. It is an easy method that requires very little instrumentation and resources. However, only recommend dyes work well.

Radioisotope Methods

This method can be an effective tool if it is possible to empty the contents of the pipeline. Radioactive trace gases are pumped into the system at high pressure. They permeate through cracks and faults. If there are no faults within a certain area, the gases will not leak. If there are, trace gas detectors will detect them. It can detect both internal and external faults. It is an expensive undertaking, but its results are quite impressive.

Fibre-Optic Method

At least three methods similar to this method exist today. The digital oil leak, vapor detection, and real-time transient models are in use. They all use a cable, immersed in the pipeline to detect changes within the surrounding. The cables have a sensor-signal protocol; when the leak is detected, a signal is promptly generated in the form of an alarm.


Many techniques that one can use to detect whether an underground leak and/or a surface leak may exist. The type of fluid, flow-rate, location, and extent of flaw determines the method that one can use. A reliable leak detection company, like Leak Locators Inc., will provide you with a clear guide on how they intend to locate the source of your suspected leak.