Air Leaks

The Basics of a Leak Program

Know the Hazards:
  • Ensure Proper Training
  • Be Aware of Explosion / Implosion
  • Other Hazards
Planning the Leak Survey:
  • Review End-Use Applications
  • Prioritize Equipment and Location
  • Select and Train Personnel
  • Select Inspection Method (soap bubbles, ultrasonics, calibrated hand, etc.)
  • Select Labeling Method (tags, route, locator map, etc.)
Implementing the Leak Survey:
  • Prepare a Piping Sketch or Photograph (if appropriate)
  • Take One Area at a Time to Test
  • Define Zones or Survey Areas
  • Large Leaks First, Then Work Toward Smaller Ones
  • Determine a Baseline (meter total leak load to quantify)
  • Perform the Survey - Look and Listen
  • Determine the Type of Leak
  • Tag Leak Location (include type of leak)
  • Note Approximate Leak Severity (small, medium, large)

Characteristics of Leaks

There are several important points to keep in mind with regard to leaks:

  • Leaks are DYNAMIC – they are constantly reoccurring
  • They cannot be fixed once and ignored
  • It takes TIME to affect change
  • Even with a consistent program, leaks will reoccur

Ultrasonic Leak Detectors

There are several important points to keep in mind with regard to leaks:

  • The most common and easiest method of leak locating
  • Effective to find leaks but not an effective method to quantify them. Only an estimate (± 50%) can be made
  • Ultrasonic leak detectors generally operate over the range of 20kHz to 100kHz
  • Ultrasonics are effective for finding problems with:
    • Compressed Gas Leaks
      (Argon, Nitrogen, Compressed Air)
    • Bearing Wear
    • Electrical Discharge
    • Steam Traps

Common Air Leaks and Misapplication

  1. Optical scanning equipment clean off – small blower will do just as good at a fraction of the cost
  2. Air hoses – loose or frayed clamps
  3. Air lances and fittings which are casualties of the fork trucks and other equipment
  4. Large computer and electrical rooms – pressurized to keep out dust - small blower effective at less cost
  5. Conveyor belt cleaning – again, use a small blower
  6. Cooling machinery bearings- use a fan
  7. Worn cylinder packing, worn “O“ rings in solenoid and control valves, faulty PR valves or broken diaphragms, bleed- off vent holes in valves