How is Thermal Imaging Used to Detect Utility Leaks?

Leaks are a common issue in underground pipes. Because the lines are inside the soil, the leak could last long before professionals detect it. It leads to expensive repairs and other significant problems. Therefore, detecting leaks soon is critical as it helps in faster repairs. This is where thermal imaging comes in. Whether the piping systems carry cold or hot products, thermal imaging helps detect the leaks from the buried systems. Here is a short overview of how thermal imaging helps utility companies detect leaks.

What is Thermal Imaging, and How Does It Detect Leaks?

Thermal imaging, also known as infrared thermography, is utilized by utility companies to detect the fluctuations of the electromagnetic spectrum in the infrared scope. That is because the naked eye is only located where light visibility reaches. The good thing about thermal imaging is that it interrupts wavelength beyond what a human eye can see.

It helps detect leaks since any product warmer than absolute zero has infrared radiation, including liquids. Therefore, industrial thermography can see how the fluid runs through the pipes within the structure and where it leaks. It is excellent at detecting leaks that can be easy to overlook. A thermal imaging camera can see moisture coming from the leaks.

When a pipe leaks, the fluid seeps outside into the surroundings. The temperature around the area changes if the fluid is hot or cold. This way, thermal imaging can detect the change. The leak also causes the pipe to change shape around the affected area. Some elements should be followed by anyone inspecting the lines to locate the leaks using infrared imaging. They include:

  • The structure of the pipe
  • Temperature in the pipe
  • Amount of fluid lost
  • Type of soil
  • Depth of the pipes

How Does Infrared Help With Inspections?

Inspection of buried pipes is best done during the night or winter. That is because it becomes easier to detect the temperature differences underground. Infrared imaging for leak detection is done at night to ensure there is no sun to interfere with the process. However, it is possible to operate during the day if the pipes are inside. The aim is to eliminate any interference from the sun and other heat sources.

Thermal imaging can be done on foot or using a vehicle. The professionals will need to navigate the imaging over the piping system. Since pipes are usually underground and in a straight line, they can easily show on the scanner. The leak may appear as a bulge and display in another color, different from the rest. However, it is essential to note that thermal imaging cannot detect leaks behind concrete walls. However, it can see temperature changes. It helps detect leaks in the piping system by scanning the pattern and temperature differences, revealing where a leak is located.

Key Takeaways

Thermography is crucial for detecting leaks in utility pipes deeply buried in the ground. It helps detect leaks that may not be detectable by a mere inspection. It is cost-effective, easy to deploy, and quickly detects underground leaks. With thermal imaging, utility companies can easily detect leaks without excavation and avoid inconveniences like shutting down the supply.

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