How to find a water leak in the floor

Many homeowners are faced with the problem of finding hidden utilities, leaks in the heat – water system or underfloor heating pipes. The need to identify the correct location of hidden lines of pipes or floor heating occurs when checking new systems, to simplify repairs or before installing other equipment. The problem is that during construction and renovation, the customer did not want to see the pipes and the builders hid them in the floor ties and walls. This has led to the fact that due to violations of the technology of laying these tracks or the use of substandard materials, the homeowner has a serious problem in the form of water oozing out of no idea where. 

What could be the causes of leaks in your home?

Underfloor heating pipe routing and installations.

Carrying out repair work is a complex process and includes many nuances. In order to make quality repairs and at the same time not to destroy what is already there, it is necessary to take some precautions – for example, to take care of finding communications in the floor or wall. Very often it is necessary to determine the exact scheme of laying the branches of the floor heating, otherwise you risk damaging the entire system, so before carrying out the repair you need to find all the hidden pipes.

Search for hidden areas of dampening of building structures.

In homes with autonomous heating are installed pressure gauges and therefore it is possible to indirectly determine the fact of the leak by the drop in pressure in the system. If the pressure in the boiler drops, it is the primary sign of a leak. In order to localize the area of water leakage it is necessary to perform a thermal imaging diagnostic of the system. We use a combined method of leak location (high precision thermal imaging + pulse moisture scanner). This method of inspection is currently the most accurate and provides a leak location probability of up to 80%. A thermal imaging camera is one of the most effective tools for locating problem areas, making invisible wet areas visible to the human eye. Accuracy of localization of hidden leaks starting from 0.5 m2 and depends on the design features of laying pipes, type and thickness of the screed, the use of insulating materials on pipes. A separate Defect Map is created for each inspected area (click on the picture below). The cost of the thermal imaging survey depends on the area of the survey.

Easy ways to find a problem

Some people suggest using a windshield washer fluid designed for car windshield maintenance. The presence of dyes in its composition makes it easier to find the problem area – it will be visible on the surface of the floor. After it is poured into the system, the circuit is subjected to air injection, under pressure, the liquid is gradually forced out of the pipes. The painted mixture will quickly get into the vulnerable area and because of the impact will tend to leak out.

As you find these areas should be circled with a pencil, and the speed at which they dry out should be monitored. It is most likely that the pipe will break where the wet spot has been there the longest. This method does not guarantee 100% leakage detection, because only intensive loss of coolant will be detected. But its obvious advantage is the possibility of making a diagram of the location of the pipes.

Advantages of resorting to thermal imaging cameras

They give more exact results. Water leaks detection will be much easier with locally high temperatures, that is, areas where the coolant penetrates into the screed. Here with the same efficiency can be used almost all types of modern thermal imaging cameras, but with models whose matrix exceeds 160×120 points, you can get a full-quality image of the defect, as well as the scheme of laying communications.

On the screen of a thermal imager the leak will look like a blurred spot, on the background of the overall picture the warm area will stand out noticeably. The equipment allows not only to plan the location of the branches, but also to optimize their work, to detect water leaks in time and to eliminate air pockets.

If the concrete screed is finished with glossy tiles, it will be problematic to detect leaks with a thermal imager: the lining has a different coefficient of radiation, in this case, the heat will be reflected as from a mirror. When the thickness of the screed exceeds 12 cm, it is also difficult to accurately localize the problem area: the screen reflects the communications as a large single spot – such a floor is evenly heated.

Often builders, carrying out repairs in apartments and cottages, walled in heating and water pipes. Thanks to this it is possible to improve the appearance of the rooms, but a problem may arise – in the case of a water leak we have to dismantle the entire masonry. Usually no one thinks about this during the repair, relying on the Russian “chance”, but then you have to regret the decision.