As the world’s water supply becomes more and more scarce, it is vital that pipes in homes are functioning properly. Plumbing leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water each year.

When a plumbing pipe is leaking, it’s important to call a professional plumber immediately. Plumbers have listening devices that can locate the source of a leak through walls and furniture. Contact Leak Detection Atlanta now!

Hardware-Based Methods


The detection of water pipeline failures in a water distribution network requires specialized hardware sensors. Different hardware-based methods use acoustic emission (AE), acoustic monitoring, and thermal imaging devices to detect leaks and assist in the location of those leaks. Using these devices to monitor the pipelines helps ensure that the quality of the water is maintained.

A typical AE system uses a series of sensors that monitor the sound pressure waves generated by escaping fluids. The size and frequency of the resulting sounds depend on the size of the leak and the material through which it is leaking. Smaller leaks create higher-frequency noises, while larger leaks produce lower-frequency sounds. These signals are then transmitted to a central computer that identifies the leak and its location.

Another type of hardware-based method for leak detection is based on the use of tracer gases. These gases are injected into the pipelines and seep through leaks in the ground or pavement. The most commonly used tracer gas in pipeline leak detection is helium, which is non-flammable and non-toxic. Using a helium-based leak detection system, it is possible to locate a pipeline leak with a high degree of accuracy.

A number of different hardware-based methods have been developed for detecting oil and gas pipeline leaks. These systems are typically designed to monitor pipeline data, such as the temperature of the pumped fluid and pressure fluctuations in the pipes. Several different software packages exist that can be used to analyze the information and identify a leak. However, it is important to understand the limits of these systems. One limitation is the fact that signals or data time series may contain outliers. Outliers are values that deviate significantly from the normal trend of the data and can lead to false alarms.

Software-Based Methods

Several software-based methods for leak detection are available, including the use of artificial intelligence to identify patterns in the data. These methods have shown better performance than previous hardware-based systems in terms of detection accuracy and speed. This has piqued the interest of researchers who have looked at incorporating them into smart building architectures.

These systems are able to analyze the data of the pipeline and detect any changes. They are also capable of predicting the location of a leak. They are able to do this by comparing the data with the historical behavior of the pipe. They can identify any unusual patterns and alert the operator to them.

The most common method for detecting a leak in a pipeline is to measure the change in pressure or flow. This is accomplished by using a network of sensors that are able to read the information that is transmitted through the pipeline. These sensors are positioned every 0.5 m along the pipeline and provide a measurement of the change in pressure or flow. This method is able to detect leaks in steady-state conditions, as well as transient conditions.

Other methods for detecting a pipeline leak are to look at the chemical or physical properties of the product. For example, the escaping liquid can cause a change in temperature or create an odor. The pipeline operator should train their personnel to detect these changes, or they can ask local residents or third parties to watch for these changes. These methods are typically used when a pipeline is carrying hazardous products.

A different method for detecting a leak in NPW systems uses reflected wave techniques to locate the source of a leak. However, this method has a number of disadvantages. Junctions, nodes, and bends affect the reflected waves, which can lead to significant false alarms. The reflected wave technique can also be ineffective in detecting transient events such as large pressure drops.

Sonic Leak Detection

You can’t talk directly to someone through a brick wall because sound waves cannot travel that far. But you can through a hole, and this is the principle behind ultrasonic leak detection. These devices send out high-frequency sounds to search for holes and cracks where water might ingress. They can also detect the speed at which the sound is traveling, allowing them to pinpoint the location of the leak.

These tools are highly sensitive and can help locate even the smallest leaks. They are ideal for testing for compressed air leaks, steam leaks and refrigerant leaks. They can also be used to test the continuity of seals and gaskets in a building envelope or rigid air barrier system.

They work by listening to the sound that pressurized systems make when they leak. This sound is a combination of background noise and the pressure differential that changes as the leak size increases. The sensitivity of these detectors can be adjusted to filter out background noise and focus on the specific sound being emitted by the leak. They typically include a display that shows the decibel level of the sound being produced.

The simplest way to understand how a Sonic device works is to think of it as a highly-sensitive ultrasonic microphone. Most of these devices are able to convert the sounds into audible frequencies, so you simply put on the headset and listen. They can also produce a display or meter that indicates the intensity of the ultrasound being detected. This will increase or decrease depending on the distance from the source of the sound.


LiDAR scans the ground surface with laser pulses, detecting objects that reflect off the ground’s surface. A single laser pulse may encounter multiple surfaces on its way down to the ground, producing many returns (as many as there are reflective objects). These returns are categorized by their strength and composition, providing valuable information about the topography of vegetation, buildings, and bare earth. Returns are combined into a 3D mapping point cloud that contains a digital representation of the surface environment.

Range finder LiDAR uses the round-trip time of laser pulses to determine distances between the sensor and a target object. This method provides high-resolution and accurate data for topographic mapping, forestry, and autonomous vehicles. However, its slower scanning speed limits its application in dense vegetation and other challenging environments with low-reflectivity.

Mechanical LiDAR systems employ spinning mirrors or other mechanical devices to move laser beams, enabling more widespread environmental scanning. These systems typically produce less precise data than other LiDAR options, but offer longer range capabilities and higher resolution.

LiDAR data is georeferenced into highly accurate x, y, and z coordinates using GPS or GNSS satellite and receiver information, laser time range, and inertial measurement unit (IMU) instrumentation data. IMU data accounts for the sensor’s position, velocity, and acceleration, correcting movements induced by air currents and other factors.

Bridger Photonics has adapted LiDAR for oil and gas applications with its Gas Mapping LiDAR technology, first released in 2019. Gas Mapping LiDAR mounts on aircraft to rapidly scan a large facility’s pipeline and infrastructure for methane leaks. The system detects and records methane plumes from the air, reducing the need for crews to visit each facility to identify a leak site.


As drone technology continues to advance, it’s finding more and more applications, including in leak detection. Drones are capable of conducting inspections quickly, safely, and at a lower cost than other methods. Additionally, they can reach areas that may be difficult to access on foot or by vehicle.

One such application is the use of drones to locate moisture in wood, concrete, spray foam, and PVC, which are all common components of pipe systems. These drones use thermal imaging cameras to measure the amount of heat that is emitted from a surface. A wet surface will emit less heat than a dry one, making it easy to spot water damage.

Another use for drones is the detection of gas leaks. Researchers have developed a technique for using drones to detect leaks in natural gas distribution systems. The system uses a mobile platform to mount pricey gas sensors on the drone. This allows the drone to fly over vast areas and collect extremely comprehensive emissions data.

The resulting geo-registered images can then be used to pinpoint the location of any potential gas leaks. This system has the potential to significantly reduce risk and downtime in oil & gas operations.

While there is still a long way to go before drones are widely adopted in the oil & gas industry, they’re already playing an important role in improving safety measures and operational efficiency. For example, a drone equipped with gas detection sensors can scan vast areas of land and identify any signs of methane leaks. This enables operators to take immediate action, minimizing both environmental impact and financial loss.