Going Acoustic

Portable detection equipment focuses on the sound of the leak

Going Acoustic

Albuquerque Water Authority leak detection coordinator Allen Maestas (left) and leak detection technician Zack Layne use an acoustic listening device to detect leaks in pressurized water lines along Altura park in a Northeast Albuquerque neighborhood.

Non-revenue water loss from underground leaks is a major headache for utilities, and losses often worsen as the infrastructure ages. What’s more, leaks can often erupt into major infrastructure failures. Acoustic leak detectors zone in on high-frequency acoustic emissions produced by leaks in pressurized systems. Electronic sensors transform these acoustic waves to electronic voltage signals, which are amplified, filtered and processed to determine the severity of the leak.

The signal output is monitored continuously on each channel, and alarm levels can be defined independently by channel so that you will know exactly when and where a leak has occurred. 

There are several portable acoustic leak detection devices to consider, many of which are compact and designed to integrate with smartphones and other web-enabled devices: 

The iQuarius smartphone leak detection system from Aquarius Spectrum combines an Android app with an acoustic sensor to create a system that can perform pipe listening, acoustic survey and acoustic correlation. The noise is recorded and automatically sent to a server for further analysis. Acoustic correlation occurs between two mobile sensors, allowing the user to pinpoint the exact location of a leak. It is ideal for leak detection service teams for both leak surveys and pinpointing. Results can be analyzed on a web application, and a smartphone app available on Google Play.

The Touch Pro correlator from Fluid Conservation Systems is designed to locate leaks in traditionally difficult situations, such as on plastic or large-diameter pipes. Its interface guides users through the correlation process with minimal training required. Acoustic data is transmitted back to the correlator from two outstations attached magnetically to valves at different points along the pipeline. The correlator then uses an automated filtering intelligence system that automatically runs up to 55 different filter combinations on each correlation, checking the quality and optimizing the filters to obtain the best possible result. The system can be used with both live and prerecorded correlation data, removing the need for a manual filter setting. Conveniently, the correlator and outstations can be charged in the carrying case simultaneously from a single outlet.

The Gen-Ear LE water leak locator from General Pipe Cleaners uses a compact amplifier that provides noise-free amplification with built-in preset audio filters. Noise-cancelling high-performance headphones block out interference. Probe rods can be used for soft surfaces like grass or carpet, and a magnetic attachment serves above-ground pipes or hydrants. A safety button mutes sudden loud noises when released. Two AA batteries power the unit for 20 or more hours. To extend battery life, the system automatically shuts down when headphones are removed. A sound amplification module adds air to the line, increasing the water pressure, amplifying leak sounds and making them easier to locate.

The RD547 from Radiodetection Corporation is a single control unit that can support three different microphones. Optimized for flexibility, the universal microphone has a selection of attachments making it suitable for ground measurements or attaching to pipe fittings. It has a windproof shield for outdoor use and is sensitive to lower frequencies. A test rod with a rigid handle and extendable tips allows measurements to be taken on deeper-set utility fittings. 

The LD-18 digital water leak detector from SubSurface Locators reduces ambient, intermittent noises from dogs barking, cars passing by, footsteps and people talking. Its digital electronics sample the sounds every few thousandths of a second, and if it detects an intermittent sound, it suppresses it instantly. Water leak sounds are almost always continuous noises, and the unit can identify continuous leak sounds even in difficult conditions like busy streets.

The HL10 hand-held acoustic water leak location device from Vivax-Metrotech Corp. is compact and easy to use, with acoustic and visible values for a leak survey and leak pinpointing while reducing leak location time. With three filter settings, it can be finely adjusted to the individual task and suppress interfering background noise. The visual LED indicator assists the leak location procedure with simple, one-handed operation. An LED light is built in for use in low-light areas. Greater versatility is gained by combining it with the sensitive GM 80 wind protected ground microphone.

Aquarius Spectrumwww.aquarius-spectrum.com 

Fluid Conservation Systems; 800/531-5465; www.fluidconservation.com 

General Pipe Cleaners800/245-6200; www.drainbrain.com 

Radiodetection Corporation877/247-3797; www.radiodetection.com 

SubSurface Locators775/298-2701; www.subsurfaceleak.com 

Vivax-Metrotech Corp.800/446-3392; www.vivax-metrotech.com



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