There are a few tell-tale signs to look out for which may identify that you’ve got an air leak:
Listen for leaking air
Large air leaks are less common than smaller leaks but do waste lots of compressed air so worth checking every few months. Larger leaks are audible. During quieter production periods take the time to walk through your system, to check you can’t hear a ‘hissing’ sound that shouldn’t be there.
Use a soapy solution
Apply a soap solution to joints. The more bubbles, the larger the leak. You won’t get a detailed picture, but you will see where the leaks are, and which ones are the worst. This can be very time consuming and messy but can be useful to pinpoint many small leaks in a specific area. But if there is a big leak, the solution can get blown off and get missed!
Have you noticed the pressure in your system going down? Your compressor could be working harder to supply the same pressure and airflow it used to provide. This means you may have a leak, or in fact lots of smaller leaks combining to cause this issue.
Losing air during downtime
No one likes to waste money and energy, so why would you want to lose compressed air when you’re not using it? Observe whether you’re using air even when production machines are not operating. This air will be feeding little leaks throughout your system.
How old is your pipework?
Piping systems more than five years old have been shown to exhibit leaks of up to 25%. A single quarter-inch air leak at 100 psi could cost more than £1700 a year! You could consider installing aluminium pipework to correct this as it’s easy to install with leak free connections.
Difficulties with identifying leaks
Even when the production plant is quiet, there can still be issues with detecting leaks:
- Multiple leaks on a system can make it difficult to identify the largest
- Leaks at high level may be hard to detect without access equipment
- If sections of pipework are valved off, there will be no pressure in the line so leaks will not show up
- Guards or covers may need to be removed to access the system properly
So, you think you’ve got a problem, what next?
A leak detection survey can pinpoint exact leaks in compressed air systems, even during noisy production periods. It will produce a report outlying all leaks in order for them to be repaired.
Spot it. Tag it. Fix it.
The ultrasonic leak detectors remove the need for guesswork, and you can improve the efficiency of your system!
Remember that over time new leaks will develop, and small ones will worsen. Leak detection surveys should be repeated regularly to maintain low leakage levels.