Even though your plumbing pipes are made of materials that are designed to last several decades, they don’t last forever. Pipes crack, joints come apart, pipes leak due to compaction of soil, and even tree roots can damage your pipes over time. Problem is, when the leak is deep under the ground, you may not even know you have a leak until it’s too late.
That’s where hydrostatic testing comes in. This is an effective way to determine if your pipes are leaking, especially pipes located under slabs. Put another way, this method tests drain pipes for strengths and weaknesses.
It can also be used by pipeline companies to reconfirm the structural integrity and safety of natural gas pipelines, according to INGAA Foundation. But for the purposes of this blog, we will look at hydrostatic testing as a method of determining leaks in a residential home.
What is Involved in Hydrostatic Pressure Testing?
Hydrostatic testing finds leaks in pressurized systems, such as pipelines, plumbing, boilers, gas cylinders and fuel tanks. It can even be performed on your home’s sewer line to determine if leaks are present.
When a hydrostatic test is performed, your plumbers will fill the system with some type of liquid. Once filled, it is pressurized in order to test the integrity of the system. Now, the plumbers observe what happens. If there is a drop in the liquid level, this means there’s a leak somewhere along the line, even if it’s not visible to the naked eye.
This method of testing is preferred because it’s non-invasive and non-destructive to the surrounding area, so long as certain guidelines are followed.
How Hydrostatic Testing Works in a Residential Sewer System
Trees need reliable sources of water, which is why they spread their roots out far and wide to get it. Sewer pipes are attractive to them, which prompts the tree to send microscopic root tendrils into even the smallest of openings.
Once inside, the roots will suck moisture from the source. Not only does this damage your pipe, it makes the root grow bigger, which widens the opening. It’s only a matter of time before the pipe cracks.
Plumbers will use hydrostatic testing to find those hidden leaks so they can repair them. They start by locating the drain line’s cleanout. An inflatable test ball is sent into the cleanout, which blocks the sewer line near the foundation’s edge.
Now it is filled with water, usually to the slab’s top edge. If the plumber notices the water level starting to drop, they know there’s a leak somewhere under the slab of the home. Now they have to determine exactly where the leak is located. One way is to feed a video camera down into the pipes till they hit the offending area, all the while inspecting the general condition of the pipe system.
Another option is to use inflatable plugs designed to isolate and test out various sections of pipe. A video camera is used to position the plugs at various points.
Contact L&P Plumbing
Here at L&P, we have vast experience with leak detection and repair, as well as video sewer inspection and hydrostatic testing services. To book your appointment, call us today at 512-468-9030 for a free quote.