Acoustic Water Leak Detection isolates the sound of water escaping the pipework to locate the leak

Water leaks occur every day, but they’re often more difficult to pinpoint than you might expect. That’s because a multitude of utility pipes can be concealed underground, behind walls and in ceilings. Whether there’s a leak in your home, office or commercial property, using acoustic water leak detection means we can pinpoint the location of issue without any intrusive excavation.

There are several warning signs for plumbing leaks, ranging from sudden puddles in your backyard to a drop in your water pressure, or a build-up of water in your walls or ceilings, all with potentially disastrous consequences. One thing is for certain, it needs to be fixed fast, but how?

The process of detection can be lengthy, costly, and can even lead to plumbers tearing up your walls in search of the issue – but what if you could avoid all that? This is where the acoustic method comes in to assist with water leak detection.

Some common signs of water leaks:

  • Unusually wet areas on lawn or paving
  • Noticeable drop in water pressure
  • Unexplained increases in water usage/increased water bills
  • Buckled ceilings

Do you have these tell-tale signs of a water leak?

How do acoustic water leak detectors work?

Water leaks make sounds which are transmitted on the pipes and also to the surface. Not every leak will sound the same because factors such as water pressure, soil type and depth, surface cover and pipe construction all affect the frequency and loudness of the sound.

acoustic water leak detection example

Pipe and Cable Location Technology

Pipe and cable locator equipment is used to mark the location of water lines using electromagnetic transmission. This means a transmitter is carefully calibrated to induce a frequency into the ground. A receiver is then used to detect the pipe or cable which re-radiates the signal. Toscano Plumbing’s highly-trained plumbers interpret the signal so the pipe location can be mapped out. This makes it easier to identify the location of the leak with an acoustic leak detector.

Acoustic Leak Detection Technology

The pre-location of water pipes can also be done using an acoustic leak detector. By connecting a stopper to the line believed to be leaking, this opens and closes a valve to create a rhythmic pulsation. The pulsing can then be detected through the ground with an acoustic listening stick. The pulsing sound is loudest when the microphone is positioned directly over the pipe. That point is marked, and this process is continued to trace the entire line. By mapping the location of the pipe, it becomes possible to listen directly over the pipe for the next step: acoustic leak detection.

Our plumbers use a wireless system of headphones and a touchscreen electronic monitor for acoustic slab leak detection. To pinpoint an underground leak an advanced ground microphone is used with a wind-protected fitting. The microphone is used at points directly above the water line to identify where the sound is the loudest. This is the location of the leak. A variety of other specialised microphones can be used to suit the location of the leak, dependent on surface and whether the leak is indoors or outdoors.


  • Performs well on small to large leaks
  • A comprehensive and adaptable system
  • Filtering options for precise acoustic listening and detection
  • Limits damage to property

Tracer Gas Leak Detection Technology

If an area has too much noise to precisely pinpoint the leak, the leak is very deep, or in confined areas with restricted access, a gas leak detector Melbourne should be used.  Our tracer gas technology is the ideal solution and can be used for both gas and water services.

A completely safe combination of hydrogen and nitrogen is injected into the pipeline which is suspected of leaking. Nitrogen is the carrier gas, while hydrogen is used for detecting leaks because it is such a light gas. Hydrogen atoms seek the shortest route from the pipeline to the surface, so escape through the leak quickly. The gas permeates covering surfaces, where a sensitive, specialised probe detects its activity so that the leak can be accurately pinpointed.


  • Excellent detection rating
  • Fast testing method
  • Safe, non-combustible, non-toxic, non-corrosive solution

Bringing state-of-the-art technology and expertise together

As well as state-of-the-art leak detection equipment, Toscano Plumbing relies on extensive knowledge and experience to operate it correctly. Although leak detectors are a fantastic innovation, they cannot operate themselves, and it’s vital you engage a professional plumber who is confident using the equipment to its full capacity. With more than 60 years combined experience in the professional plumbing industry, our qualified plumbers are constantly kept up to date with specialist training.

There are some simple ways you can detect leaks yourself. After all, if you can do so on your own, it can save you a call to your plumber, saving them time and your money. For one thing, you could take that same acoustic approach but in a more “low-tech” manner. While we breakdown on how acoustic leak detection machines work below, your ears have their own “acoustic” leak detection method in their own way. Knowing how and where to listen for plumbing leaks can drastically increase your chances of spotting them. For example, if you suddenly start hearing running water in places or at times you did not before.

One of the first signs of a plumbing problem can be damaged wallpaper and paint, specifically if they start to peel or suddenly appear contaminated with mould. Of course, there could be several different reasons why your wallpaper might become torn, and chipping and flaking is inevitable with the paint aging process. That said, if your wallpaper or paint are relatively new but are already displaying these flaws, or have only recently begun to do so, water damage causing the paint or sticky side of the wallpaper to lose their bonding with the wall may be the culprit.

Wall damage itself may be a clue that you have a plumbing problem. For example, if you have a plumbing leak, the water can start to eat away at the wall’s strength, causing cracks and discoloration. This can also breed mould, which can also eat away at your walls, leave a nasty odour and, left unchecked, can produce a toxic environment in your home. If you feel your wall’s plaster has become soft, especially at a spot where the plumbing pipes come into contact with or are adjacent to the wall, water damage is likely the main cause.

The same holds true for floors. Sudden puddles, discolouration, and grout build-up can be a sign of leaks.

Mould and mildew are of particular concern. Both tend to flourish in dark, moist areas – all of which fit the bill for a plumbing leak. These black and brown odious spots are not only sure to leave your guests wrinkling their noses but can severely damage your property value, not to mention the structural integrity of the walls and ceilings in which they take residence.

If you are able to detect a leak via any of these clues, or simply see or hear one, you will want to call a professional plumber straight away to fix it as soon as possible, which is where acoustic leak detection comes in.

What Is Acoustic Leak Detection?

As the name would imply, this method focuses on detecting leaks by identifying waterflow through sound, but how does that work?

If you have ever heard the distinct gurgle of a plumbing problem in progress, you might have a guess. More often than not, when there is a plumbing problem, this may cause the “sound” of your plumbing to be different than normal.

While you may not be able to pick up on normal plumbing sounds, let alone aberrations in them, plumbing professionals and their acoustic leak detection equipment often can. This is what forms the core of the approach. It not only makes leak detection faster and more accurate, but it also avoids the problem of plumbers smashing into your walls to inspect pipes only to find the leak is elsewhere.

While traditional plumbing methods try to solve methods with a sledgehammer (literally), acoustic leak detection approaches and resolves the plumbing problem with surgical precision.

Toscano Plumbing can do this by using echo detection and imaging technology. Think of how bats find their way in the dark. They are blind, but they emit sounds which then bounce off objects and are picked up by their highly sensitive ears, allowing them to “see” where they are going via the acoustic information they receive.

That is part of how acoustic leak detection technology works as well. Audio components work in conjunction with imaging software to show plumbers where the leak is coming from.

Different Sounds

That is not the only way that this technology is able to pick up on where a leak may be coming from. There is also the fact that different water flows sound different. There are several factors that can impact how a water leak sounds, from how far it is from the wall to the water pressure to any soil or other materials present and so on. Plumbing experts can notice that difference and use it to help find the probable source of the leak, and then use their acoustic technology to confirm their suspicions before they proceed.

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