Leaks on lead water pipes

During the course of leak detection and repair we have come across lead pipes in all parts of the country. There are some areas in Dublin where we would expect to find the main supply  pipe to be constructed of lead ie.  Clontarf, Drumcondra, Sandymount and Ballsbridge. 

What does a lead water pipe look like?

As you can see from the video above the pipe is grey in colour, if you scrape it with a knife you will find that the metal is soft and shiny. As most of the service pipe is buried underground it is possible that it could be lead even if you see plastic or copper rising up to the internal stopcock.  

Leaks Ireland carried out a leak detection survey on a house in Trim and discovered the leak below. The home owner had informed us that they had the builder bring in a new Hydrodare supply 2 years previously when the house got a full renovation. On excavation of the leak we found that the lead had not been fully replaced as shown in the top left hand corner of the photo.

Pipes before and after repair, you can see the lead at the top of the photo.

More examples of leaks on lead pipe

The leak was quantified at losing 36,000 litres/day. It was particularly difficult to pinpoint as we were to find out later. We picked the best spot to excavate and landed right on top of the leak.
This we repaired by putting in a new section only to find that it was leaking back further, this 2nd leak was repaired and again we discovered a 3rd leak on further again. 
At this point we decide that it was best to run a new pipe into the property and decommission the lead pipe.

At a commercial property in Longford town, this was a pretty easy and quick leak to pinpoint due to the high level of leak noise at that shallow depth.

 

This leak was located using a combination of acoustic sounding and leak tracer gas. The pipe was an old lead service pipe that was not in use. To remedy the leak we cut the pipe and installed a plastic blank.

Conducting leak surveys on lead pipe are not any more difficult that the newer pipes available. The repair of a leak on the lead pipe is easier due to the ease at which it bends, which also leads to less pipe been exposed, therefore a smaller hole to be excavated.

Check for leaks in under a minute

Many of you who plan on paying the new Irish water charges will be keen to ensure that you have not got any leaks on your property. This can be done 100% effectively and give you piece of mind.

The best time to do this is when you have been away for a few hours and the house is empty. When you return home look into the meter and see if you can spot it turning. It is a little harder to tell if the meter is turning as the transponder covers a lot of it.

In the video below you need to focus in on the little white cog shaped wheel in the centre of the meter. This is a water usage indicator and will turn with the slightest amount of water flowing through the meter. The more water used the faster it will go and the more worried you should be.

Provided that the little cog on your meter is not turning then you can be assured that you will not be getting a huge water charge.

If the meter is turning be sure to double check that there is no water being used in the house such as a tap dripping or toilet overflowing. If there is no obvious reason for your meter to be using water then it is clear that you have a leak.

For more information on leak detection or for peace of mind contact Leaks Ireland 01 5376294.

Please leave a comment below if you have any remarks or opinions 

Fast Aqua M300D reviewed

box of water leak detecting equipmentWe have been using this for over a year now. In that time we have used and experimented with all the functions of the unit. You can pick and choose what parts of the package you want to buy. Most of them are essential and some are down to user preference. 

The M300D has lots of technology and many functions to choose from. In this review we will be covering what we found to be the most relevant to detecting water leaks.

We purchased the following

  • Large storage case
  • Aqua M300D central unit
  • Headphones
  • Ground microphone
  • Test rod + extensions
  • Hydrogen ground sensor + suction pump

Acoustic sounding

 The ground microphone

water leak detecting equipment

This is where the M300D excels. The sound is crisp clear and infinitely adjustable to suit any user or situation. There are a 3 different modes that you can use with the ground microphone but really you only need to use "smart mode". This is the best part of the unit as you can set it to listen to what ever frequency range you desire. With practice we are able to filter out unwanted noise and only listen to the leak, this allows us to pinpoint the loudest spot on the ground. For pipe tracing we would also use "smart mode"  in conjunction with the PWG. For the majority of users they may prefer to use the preset modes but with a little practice on filtering the frequencies you will benefit most from the power of the unit. 

 The testrod

water leak finding unit

For the test rod and the ground microphone all the functions of the unit are the same. The difference is that on the test rod the pick-up is exposed to the wind and as the unit is highly sensitive then you would need to shield it with your legs. We would only ever use it on grass and areas that we can push the rod into the ground. When tracing a pipe with the PWG, the test rod works brilliantly on grass and can even narrow down the pipe location to a 1 metre wide area.

Hydrogen ground sensor

water leak gas sniffer unit

At first we were not happy with this as we found that it took too long to react to positive hydrogen readings, about 30 seconds. After talking to the supplier we were informed that the suction pump would help this, so we tried it. Boy did it make a difference, the reaction time was down to 5 seconds and totally changed our opinion. The pump is also a great help in clearing the hydrogen from the sensor when we are narrowing down a water leak. For sniffing gas this matches anything else on the market.

Positives and negatives

Bad points

  • Is not rechargeable, uses 4 size C disposable batteries.
  • Central unit is quite heavy and needs a more adjustable neck strap.

 Good points

  • Excellent quality headphones.
  • Robust design of unit and tough carry case.
  • Cleanest sound of any of its competitors.
  • Waterproof central unit with touch screen.
  • Frequency filtering
  • Price

Conclusion 

There are many more things that you can use the unit for. As in it will listen for you for up to an hour and record what it hears. This would be useful when you are on your own and have to go away to turn off the leak. We would be afraid that it would be damaged or go for a walk.

This is a top quality piece of kit and i hope we never have to get it serviced as we would be lost without it. Initially we were looking at buying a Fast acoustic unit and a Sensistor hydrogen detector but this combination would have cost 1.5 times the M300D. 

The M300D can be quite hard to use a first, but with regular use for a couple of weeks you will start to see the real power of it and how versatile it is in locating water leaks or tracing plastic pipes.

 

How to read an Irish water meter

In our previous blog post we explained where to find and how to access your water meter. In this post you will gain an understanding of  what the figures on the meter mean. Also you will then be able to work out how much water you are using. This is essential in determining if you have a water leak.


Irish water meter

This is a close up of the digits on the domestic mechanical meter. 

 

In Ireland all of the newer meters are metric as opposed to imperial. You can tell if the are imperial as it will say "Gallons" or "Gal" on the meter. The currently used meters are metric and will have a "m³" symbol on the face of them.

The black numbers are cubic metres and the red digits are litres. There is a little red dial to the bottom left of the red digits but we cannot fully see it as the automatic reader(transponder) is covering most of it. When this little dial turns one full revolution it means a litre of water has just passed through the meter.

The meter reading in the photo is 160.144 cubic metres or 160,144 Litres.

These water meters are very accurate for recording usage and will seldom give any problems. Often on a leak detection job the client would ask us if the meter might not be working correctly, hoping that it is reading too high. It is a valid question and from our 9 years experience in leak detection we have never seen this to be true on a domestic mechanical meter. When we found that the meters in question were working incorrectly, it was 100% always under-reading the actual usage. The cause of this was often a small pebble or debris trapped in the internals of the meter.

Next we will be covering basic leak detection and how to prove if you have a leak.

If you would like to know more  or suspect that you have a leak you can call us direct on (01)5376294.         Or leave a comment if you would like a topic covered.

 

 

5 steps to knowing your Irish water meter

Step 1

In order for you to quickly discover if you have a water leak it is important that you know where to find your water meter and how it works.

To locate your water meter, it is usually right outside the boundary wall or hedge of your premises. 

All of the newly installed meters will look like this. This is a meter in Dublin but it should be the same all over Ireland.

water meter box cover

water meter box cover

Step 2

Using a pry bar as shown or a flat screwdriver, insert it into one of the 3 openings and prise the lid off.

For some of the older meter box types you will need a certain shaped key to be able to open the lid. 

yellow pry bar

yellow pry bar

Step 3

When the lid is off you will see some foam know as a frost plug. This can help prevent hard frost from freezing the meter. Dont lose it, or if you do substitute it with some old clothes.

water meter box frost protector

water meter box frost protector

Step 4

This is how the water meter looks. Some of the meters may not look exactly like this one as they may have been installed some time ago as part of the planning regulations.

inside of a water meter box

inside of a water meter box

Step 5

The water meter has a transponder clamped onto the top of it. This is so that the meter reading can be downloaded as the meter reader drives by, therefore there is no need for Irish Water to open the box and take a reading.                                                                                                                                

The blue handle is for turning off the water supply to the meter. 

water meter with transponder

water meter with transponder

Next time we will be looking in depth at the meter and how to determine how much water you are using. 

If you would like to know more  or suspect that you have a leak you can call us direct on (01)5376294.         Or leave a comment if you would like a topic covered.