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Handheld specialised contact- and ground microphones are used to listen for water leaks in underground pipelines where leaks cannot be seen on the surface.

Contact microphones are used to listen to the sounds of water flowing in pipelines which are exposed on the surface. If there is a leak in a nearby underground pipeline then this leak may be heard.

Ground microphones are used to listen for sounds under hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt and paving.

Leak detection using contact acoustics
Leak detection using contact acoustics

Leak detection using ground acoustics
Leak detection using ground acoustics

Equipment & Methods

Find out more about our detection and inspection equipment and working methods:

Interesting Facts

  • 1litre per minute water loss is roughly 40 000 litre per month.
  • Towns generally lose 25% or more of water through leaking pipes.
  • If you suspect a pool leak, place a bucket on the first step and fill to the same level as the pool. If the level of water in the pool drops below that of the bucket, then there is a leak.
  • If you suspect a water leak, close all taps and  place your ear against a water pipe. If a faint hissing sound is heard there could be a leak.
  • Water leaks usually start off very slowly, so small that they show little or no movement on the water meter. The leaks develop into larger leaks and may burst when there are spikes in water pressure.
  • The most common cause of water loss is poor pipeline installation and failure of fittings. Soil loading and excessively wet soil causes immense pressure on pipes and fittings. Pipes should be bedded in sand but this is usually not done. Angular rock fragments against pipes and poor connections are the main culprits.
  • As the leaks slowly erode sub-surface soil the water finds its way through the ground following lines of weakness in sub-surface pathways. Some leaks even as large as 500 000 lt/day may never show on the surface. The orientation of the leak, ground conditions and rock fragments above the pipe are the main reasons why leaks never show on the surface.