When copper pipes are run in concrete without lagging or covering over them properly, the pipes can sometimes split. Copper is a material that expands and contracts when heated. Pipes that are run in concrete can split, as the pipe cannot move when the copper naturally tries to expand.
There are companies that specialise in locating the pipe work and leaks, but they should be used in conjunction with a plumber who is experienced in burst pipes. The pipe locators are not always licensed plumbers and will not repair any leaks. It is important that the plumber who is going to repair the leak is present when the pipe locating company is performing their work. Finding the leak is part of the first part of the job and repairing or re-running the pipe is the second part. If a thorough tracing of the pipes is not completed and a re-run is required, this could result in water being shut off to parts of the house or building for a longer period of time than is required.
Some plumbers may have the equipment to trace copper pipes but unless they are using the equipment on a regular basis, it is better to use a company that specialises in this type of work as they can solve the issues much faster and will save you money in the process.
If you have a leaking pipe, ask these questions when calling a plumber:
1. Have you had any experience in tracing leaks?
2. Do you have the correct pressure testing equipment?
3. Do you have the required pipe-locating equipment or use a specialised leak detection company?
Many homes and units that have been built in the last 15 years do not have copper pipes for hot and cold water supply. This makes the pipe locating process much more difficult. These pipes are a plastic poly butaleen and cannot be traced as easily as copper pipes. The plastic hot pipe can be traced using an infrared tool. When the pipe becomes hot by running hot water through it the infrared will show up on the pipe monitor. To find a leak in plastic cold water pipes, you need to connect it to the hot water system. Once hot water is running through the pipe, the leak will show up on the infrared monitor.