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  • Writer's pictureCory Simonson

Accuracy Matters: Pinpointing Leaks

"Dry holes can be costly and USA prides itself on accuracy!

In our last blog, I discussed the different kinds of surveys that a survey team will use to find the existence of leaks within a utility’s water system. Knowing that a leak exists is only the first step in stopping your system’s non-revenue water loss. The next step is knowing where exactly the leaks are, which is called pinpointing.

Pinpointing, Defined

The steps it takes to pinpoint a water leak can be confusing and difficult if the operator does not have the proper equipment or training. A team will decide where to pinpoint based on the leaks that were detected during the survey. This will give you the loudest location to further pinpoint the leak.

To narrow the leak location, the listener must start by using a leak noise correlator to narrow the leak spot to a few feet. Our team sets up the correlator with its two outstations that are deployed from a starting point to an ending point. Then the distance is measured and input into the correlator’s base station. With this data, correlations are run to locate and measure the leak’s location.

With the measurement given from the data collected from the correlator base station, we can now measure off and see where the leak location is located. Once we identify the spot, we need to look at the surrounding access points to see if the source of the leak noise is near or maybe another correlation is needed. If there are no other access points in the area.

Then we will assume the result to be just a mainline leak and verification will need to take place with a ground sounding microphone. If there are service lines in the vicinity of the leak’s location, further correlations will be needed to verify the leak’s location. The same correlation will be run except one outstation will be moved to the end of the service line to include the pipe. If the correlator is giving the measurements that bring you back to the same spot as before, then the leak location is correct. If it measures out to be on the service line then the first correlation was just chasing the leak source. Our team will further verify with the ground sounding microphone.

Locating the Leak

Finally, to verify the leak’s location, we utilize the ground sounding microphone. The operator will listen in an X motion heading in the forward direction over the pipe. We repeat this step until a leak noise is heard. Once a leak noise is heard, then our team can narrow it down using the volume control knob to lower the intensity of the microphone. With the loudest spot located, mark the location with locating paint for further reference.

Benefits to Pinpointing

With this process of pinpointing, you should always find your suspected leak. Our team prides itself on being as accurate as possible in pinpointing leaks. We value our accuracy to limit excavation and resources to reduce additional costs.

Utility Services Associates has been a leader in leak detection since 1990. With the proper equipment, expert knowledge, our team solves our client’s water loss problems and provides a proactive strategy for our clients to save money, stay within budget, and reduce water-loss emergencies. As a family-owned business, we work to provide a comprehensive non-revenue water loss strategy to utilities serving urban and rural communities. Contact me Cory Simonson at to discuss how we can help you solve your water loss problems.

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