What is an air leak survey and what does it involve?

When operating a large facility with extensive compressed air pipework, over time they can start to leak. You might not notice an air leak at first but the longer it is left unresolved. The more it will start to negatively impact your operations and cost you more money due to the additional waste. An air leak survey can be extremely beneficial in identifying potential leaks. So they can be resolved quickly and effectively without causing any further problems to your processes and finances. Read on to learn exactly what an air leak survey is, what it typically involves, and other key details you need to know. 

 

What causes air leaks?

Given the nature of the pipework in factories and the air passing through it, it is quite prone to leaking after only a few years. One of the most common causes of these types of air leaks is the metal of the pipes corroding. This typically occurs in the threads at the joints due to the expansion of the pipe which creates the leak. However, there are other causes of air leaks, some examples of faults are: 

  • Leaks in the nylon tubing and hoses 
  • Bad seals 
  • Mechanical damage causing leaks e.g., if a pipe is knocked 
  • Leaks in connections to the machinery and plant 
  • Poor pipe connections 
  • Problems with the valves 
  • Leaks in quick release couplings 

If you carry out a regular and efficient machinery maintenance strategy, you are more likely to find any air leaks as well as spotting corrosion in pipework that can be addressed. So, it is always important to keep on top of your facility maintenance as much as possible. To save potential leaks or corrosion getting any worse and causing more problems. In terms of the pipework and air leaks specifically it is recommended that checks are carried out at least once a year. 

 

What is an air leak survey?

An air leak survey is one of the easiest and most effective ways that you can save energy and money with your compressed air system. The purpose and role of an air leak survey is to not just find the location of the leak. But to also get an understanding of the energy being wasted. By doing so the survey can provide you with accurate steps that need to be taken. That can both solve the leak and the cause behind it.  

The most used method of carrying out an air leak survey is with ultrasonic leak detection. This piece of equipment works by accessing any and all hard-to-reach areas in the plant to ensure no possible air leaks go undetected. The main benefit of this method is that it can be done without disrupting normal operations within the plant. 

 

What does an air leak survey involve?

An air leak survey involves an engineer coming to your facility with the ultrasonic leak detection equipment. The engineer will go around your pipework and find any leaks. Any leak that is found will be tagged and logged and a photograph of the exact area of the leak will be taken. Following on from this you will get a detailed report that shows the results of the survey. This includes what was found, the severity of the leak, and the action that needs to be taken to resolve it. 

 

How to tell if your plant has an air leak

As previously mentioned, air leaks aren’t always easy to detect without specialist help from a survey. However, if you suspect your plant might have an air leak there are four key ways that you can check: 

  • There is a hissing sound when the factory is quiet, and all the machinery is turned off. 
  • Your compressor is still running at times when your operations aren’t in production. 
  • The pressures you need compared to the pressure that the compressor is generating. 
  • Whether the pressure reading on the compressor receiver is higher than the reading further away in the factory. 

Once you have completed these checks and are fairly sure that you have a leak. It’s time to call on the expert factory consultants at FESS to organise a professional air leak survey for you. 

 

What can unresolved air leaks cost you?

A small air leak might not seem like an urgent problem, but it can have serious repercussions for your operations and waste a lot of money. Statistics from the British Compressed Air Society have shown that some plants can lose up to 80% of their compressed air as a result of leaks in the pipework. Also, The Carbon Trust has estimated that a 3mm hole in a pipe can lead to wasted electricity costs of up to £1,000 per year. This is a lot of money to lose over such a tiny leak. So, it’s always best to locate and fix air leaks as soon as possible to save energy waste and money. 

Another potential benefit of doing so is it can reduce the running hours of your compressor and therefore lower your maintenance costs. Taking a robust and proactive approach to your maintenance and checks will help you control any potential leaks and tackle them before they get worse. 

 

Conclusion

An air leak survey can be extremely beneficial for factories and facilities with compressed air systems. Leaks can occur quite often so it’s important to address them as quickly and effectively as possible. With the help of a professional survey. Our production engineering consultants at FESS can help with a wide range of factory needs including air leak surveys. 

Book a free site survey with us online to identify any areas in your operations that could be improved. With our help you can become more efficient with less waste and better cost effectiveness. You can also contact us today if you have any specific questions about our services and your needs. 

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