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Sensing Water Leaks by Their Sound

Posted May 20, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

In a world suffering water shortages that promise only to get worse, simply detecting and correcting leaks in existing infrastructure can improve the situation considerably. Since leaks in valves or pipes sound different from freely flowing water, detecting those differences has become imperative. This article examines available sound-detection techniques. Some solutions place detectors on pipe exteriors. But ambient noise, pipe diameters, pipe materials, and other realities of physics and fluid mechanics compromise the effectiveness of such efforts. Instead, these companies search for leaks with tethered and untethered hydrophones (water-bound microphones) that travel with the water inside the pipes, finding leaks even far underground, such as under railroad tracks or rivers.


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Guru
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#1

Re: Sensing Water Leaks by Their Sound

05/20/2016 10:34 AM

<...a world suffering water shortages...> TermFail.

The world has about the same amount of water as it ever had. The problem lies only in having sufficient potable water in the right place and in removing the wastewater to the right place.

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The Engineer
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#5
In reply to #1

Re: Sensing Water Leaks by Their Sound

05/25/2016 7:19 AM

Correct. Basically you either have people moving to the desert (LA, Las Vegas) and siphoning water from other areas or you've got irrigation creating deserts (Aral Sea), but the water is still around.

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Guru

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#2

Re: Sensing Water Leaks by Their Sound

05/21/2016 1:10 PM

Generally easier to detect pressure losses. Also, pressure changes affect sound frequencies, but sinals going through diferent ground densities affect sound, so that may not be the right way to go about it. Generally, a leak is only detected when the sinkhole opens up in the road way, or the wate starts gushing out of the hill. At least in Los Angeles.

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Guru
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#3

Re: Sensing Water Leaks by Their Sound

05/22/2016 7:52 AM

Have seen this in use is Aus and it does have some limitations also.

It was suggested to us as a condition monitoring tool for water infrastructure, but cost/km was high (for a 200km pipe set) and could only detect current leaks. It was almost less expensive to replace the pipe than to run diagnostics for pipes each 10 years after 50 years old, especially for reticulationmains.

We have had good results with mounted accousitc devices running a 24 hour time based record and "correlating" the signals.

We have had good results with high gain microphones.

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Guru

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#4

Re: Sensing Water Leaks by Their Sound

05/24/2016 6:56 PM

Here is some good information on detecting underground water leaks acoustically:

http://www.subsurfaceleak.com/find_leaks.html

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