What is Leak Detection Fluid?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Leak detection fluid is a product people can use to check for leaks in a pressurized system like a natural gas pipeline. Plumbers and other professionals who work with such systems commonly utilize products like this for system checks, and people can also keep a bottle around the home if they have concerns about leaks. Hardware and plumbing suppliers commonly carry leak detection fluid, and it can also be available directly through a manufacturer or company specializing in safety equipment.

Leak detection fluid is a product people can use to check for leaks in a pressurized system.
Leak detection fluid is a product people can use to check for leaks in a pressurized system.

This product consists of a fluid suspension. People can spray, paint, or sponge the leak detection fluid onto a pipe they are concerned about. If a leak is present, within seconds, foaming bubbles will start to form because the pressurized material is seeping out. Leaks are a common concern around new joints, or in the wake of an incident where pipes were strained, like an earthquake. People can also spread the fluid on a smooth surface to see if a leak is forming as a result of corrosion.

Professionals typically apply leak detection fluid as part of a safety check after installing or working on a system, to make sure they did the job properly. If any leaks are present, the plumber can address them immediately and reduce the risk of injuries or damages caused by leaks. People may also use this fluid when they are restarting a system that has not been in use, or to clear pressurized systems for use after an incident. After an earthquake, for instance, natural gas companies will travel to their customers and make sure their pipelines are all working before turning the gas back on.

At home, people can use leak detection fluid when assembling small pressurized systems, or if they suspect a gas leak may be a concern. People may also use this fluid on projects where they have to use compressed air and other gases, as a small leak can compromise the project. Generally, if people smell gas or hear it escaping, they should turn off the supply of gas and call the company, and the fire department, immediately, without stopping to use leak detection fluid to see if there is a leak.

Leaks in pressurized systems can be very dangerous. Small amounts of escaping gases may present a fire hazard or could render the air unhealthy to breathe. With situations like leaks of heavy gases, people may not be aware of the problem, as breathable air is slowly displaced by the leak. If people working in an environment with compressed gas notice fatigue, sluggishness, difficulty breathing, or bluish extremities, they should evacuate, call for medical aid, and request a safety check.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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