Central Heating Leak Detection

Leaks on your central heating system

Do you have a sealed central heating system ie a combination boiler or system boiler, another way to identify your system is to check and see if you have a small expansion tank or ‘header tank’ as some installers call them, if you do, you don’t have combination or system boiler. We will deal with conventional boilers further down this page.
Is the pressure gauge regularly reducing from its normal position approx. 1 – 1.5 bar down to zero or near zero? Or simply losing pressure gradually over a period of time?
Are you topping up the system pressure more than once perhaps twice per year?

The above issues do point to a leak however there are a few things you may want to get checked put before you engage our services, that said please call us at any time for no nonsense free advice. The other issue to bear in mind is that you may have more than one leak; from our experience everyone assumes they have only one leak.

Check the following issues

Your system has a safety valve (or valves depending on the size of the house) installed on it, the safety valve is often referred to in the trade as a PRV (pressure relief valve) and another valve in some instances called a PTRV (pressure temperature relief valve). These valves have a small 15mm copper pipe leading from them which discharges on the outside of the building, find this pipe and if it is wet or is dripping, you most likely have found a leak.
A simple test is too place a balloon over the end of the pipe and leave it there for a 48 hours, when you return if the balloon has water in it, you will need to contact a gas safe (formally CORGI GAS) registered engineer to examine your boiler
If the pressure gauge on your boiler moves up and down when the boiler heats up and cools you most probably have a problem with the expansion vessel in the boiler and/or fitted to the central heating system
If your ‘feed and expansion’ cistern also called a “header tank or jockey tank” are constantly refilling and supplying water into the central heating system, you most probably have a leak
Another item to check on your boiler is the pressure gauge, does the pressure gauge rise/increase when the central heating is used ie does the needle on the gauge move from its current point eg 1bar to say 1.2bar ? If so it would be worthwhile getting a boiler engineer to check the boiler expansion vessel.

But I have no signs of a leak ?

Rarely do hidden water leaks manifest themselves. Whether you live in a house, converted maisonette or purpose built flat, most homes have an assortment of construction types, this means the floor construction falls into the following types –

Suspended floor – this means you probably have a timber floor, with gap below the floor boards. The floor boards are then generally covered by carpet, plastic floor tiles (ie Amtico), wooden effect laminate or real wood tiles or strips and in some instances real stone or ceramic tiles. In this instance, if you have a leak under the floor boards it will not be visible as the water will simply spray out of the pipe and just fall down to the ground below it.

Solid Concrete Floor – these types of floors commonly referred to as a concrete slabs have become more popular in newer built properties in recent years. It is common practice for under-floor heating systems and/or heating pipes to be buried within the concrete/screed slab.

Why do leaks occur? The most common reason is that if the pipes are not properly protected, ie if the pipe work is copper, then the acidic nature of the concrete of a period of time will slowly start to eat away and corrode the copper pipe and/or fittings. The pipe should be properly covered and protected with Petrolatum Tapes (common brand is Denso) this will prevent corrosion if installed correctly.

In this instance, literally thousands of tiny hairline stress cracks form within the concrete slab as the concrete slab settles over the years. Any water leaking from pipe work buried within the concrete slab simply dissipates within the stress cracks. Unless these is a damp proof or water proof membrane under the pipe work or within the concrete slab, the water will gradually gravitate downwards so that you do not see where the water leaks from or travels too.

Floating Floor – this type of floor is an amalgam of a solid concrete slab with a small gap above raised up by timber floor structure.

Depending where the pipe work is installed whether within the slab and/or above it in the floating floor gap, the water will generally gravitate downwards, so that there are virtually no signs of any leakage.

Unvented Hot water Cylinders –

also known as megaflo’s although that is a trade name (similar to how many people call a vacuum a Hoover)

As above – check pressure relief valve (PRV) and pressure temperature valve (PTRV)

How we will find your leak

We find hidden leaks on lead, iron, steel, asbestos (yes believe it or not there are many many asbestos water supplies) and plastic supply pipes

We use:

– Military Thermal Imaging technologies
– Acoustic profiling
– Acoustic listening devices
– Zect® leak detection agent –
We own the trademark which is registered at the UK Patent Office

– Flir® Thermal imaging survey – using a military application thermal imaging camera we will survey the solid floor under floor heating. Our camera will identify differences in temperature between the concrete and the heating pipes contained within the floor. In your situation we will use the camera to trace out the pipes so we can then follow the routes for the tracer gas.
– ZECT® Tracer agent Survey* – we inject this safe nontoxic gas into your central heating pipe work and/or any pipe that has may have a leak within it, the gas will escape and come up through your floor area, through concrete asphalt etc *it’s the best leak detection tool ever

– Chemical Analysis® – where appropriate we will carry out water analysis to find out what’s in the water so we can help identify a probable source

– Soundfind® Acoustic survey – our electronic microphones enhance and amplify the sound of the leak, which our engineer can then locate.

– Leakseeker® survey – Leakseeker® devices are connected to two ends of a suspected pipe. The devices then send sound waves down the pipe to each other, the sound waves then meet at the point of leakage. The devices then send the information via Bluetooth to a PC informing our engineer where the leak is located.

– Seesnake survey® – We have endoscopes for looking into very small inaccessible locations. These exclusive 6mm full colour cameras are ideal for getting behind bath panels, looking under floors or viewing non visible areas.

– Moisture Map Survey® – This survey has been designed for leaks on flat roofs, solid floors, damp patches on floors, walls and ceilings and water ingress from an unknown water source. Using Thermal Imaging Technology we can trace water ingress by patterns of water flow against temperature of damp and dry patches to piece together probable water ingress against water/damp sources. By profiling the water ingress with our experience of leak detection which can locate the probable source of water ingress and/or leakage.

Ask your building insurer if you have trace and access cover in your policy.