Compressed Air Leak Detection

A10: Compressed Air Leak Detection Done Right

Compressed Air Leaks are the whole in the bottom of your profit’s pocket. Leaking out valuable energy that is dissipating into the atmosphere to return back to the state prior to compression. When this happens the electricity that was used to power the compressor, the wear done to the compressor, and the time necessary to compress that air is wasted through leaks. These leaks might as well be shredding dollar bills or blowing the money out of your building because you are wasting money on every leak that you have. 

Most people aren’t even aware of how much money their compressed air system is losing them because the human ear can only detect so much. As humans we are limited to what our senses can detect in the world around us, however, that doesn’t mean that things do not exist beyond the limit of our senses. This is especially true when it comes to compressed air and identifying leaks in a compressed air system. If you want to identify all the leaks in your compressed air system you are going to need an ultrasonic leak detector. 


Why Care About Compressed Air Leaks

Compressed air leaks can be detrimental to your wallet and the health of your compressed air system. Longevity and saving money seem like a pretty good reason to fix your compressed air leaks, and keep this in mind when the costs of fixing compressed air leaks comes into play. It is an investment for the future, not just a cost for right now.

Every compressed air system on earth is going to have leaks, so don’t think this won’t apply to you. Not only does every system have them, you will continue to have them as part of the life cycle of compressed air leaks. 

Leaks are always going to be a part of your compressed air system, and by keeping up to date with leak detection technologies and methods, A10 will keep your system running better for longer. Trusting the process of compressed air leak detection and improvements to A10 can keep your energy costs low and profits high.

Investment steps are necessary for long term improvement of your compressed air system, although they are less than ideal due to their upfront cost in the short term. But why invest if it is just going to happen again, you might ask. Concerns like this can be rooted in good intentions, however in this instance the goal is reduction and not eradication of compressed air leaks because we know they will always occur.

You will be working to minimize the amount you lose on compressed air leaks each year and these little savings start to add up quickly. By recalibrating your system after a massive leakage fix you can reduce your energy bills by even more due to having to make less compressed air, since you aren’t losing so much air without any leaks. 

In addition to wasting your electricity and increasing your energy bills, air leaks can cause a plethora of problems for your compressed air system.  These problems include but are not limited to:

  • System pressure drops
  • Inefficient functioning of air tools affecting production
  • Shortening in equipment life
  • Additional maintenance and downtime due to your compressor running more than needed
  • Degrade dewpoint quality

All of these problems can contribute to financial losses in different aspects of your compressed air system, however, these problems are bigger than the additional costs they may be causing. By affecting the quality of your compressed air you can potentially ruin your final product, definitely ruin your equipment, and create additional work for you while adding unnecessary downtime. 


Identify Compressed Air Leaks

Now that you know the impact and importance of compressed air leaks; you need to be able to identify them out in the field. What good is the knowledge if you can’t use it to actually cut your energy costs and stop wasting valuable compressed air. Detecting compressed air leaks is a difficult task with the right process and equipment, but there are a few different “right” ways and it all depends on who you ask. 

Some people may tell you that all you need is good old fashioned looking and listening, nothing but the basics. Before you run off and go with just your senses to detect compressed air, you should know that a majority of compressed air leaks will exist beyond the capabilities of your innate senses. You may be able to convince yourself that you can find all of the leaks, but how can you tell when you can never pick it up?

You can only pick up what your body can detect but what is the limit of what you can detect? The baseline frequency range for human hearing is 20 Hertz (Hz) to 20 kilohertz (kHz) with the upper limit for most people being 16kHz to 17kHz. Ultrasonic which is beyond the capacity of our senses starts at 20kHz and above. Compressed air leaks are usually at 40kHz, which you will want to know for the sake of finding them.

Using your senses can be a reliable way to confirm the presence of a leak but should never be your primary method of compressed air leak detection. Confirming the presence of a leak will allow you to grasp a better understanding of the exact location of your leaks as well as quiet the voice in your head that needs physical confirmation. Another method that can be recommended by peers is using soapy water on joints and connections to find compressed air leaks. 

Applying soapy water means that any air leaks will create soap bubbles in the spots where air is escaping. This method will yield more results than simply relying on your senses alone but the hassle is not worth it. Soapy water has a few limitations which increase the overall work and decreasing the reward for using it. You can only go so high with where you apply the water because you don’t want to spray it everywhere. 

Not only does height limit you but the higher up you go the more gravity has an effect on the water, so in other words everything you put on the piping above the floor is going to end up on the floor. And someone is going to have to end up cleaning that up, all for it to show you a few more leaks than walking around looking, listening, and feeling for compressed air leaks. So both of these methods are going to provide you with a similar amount of compressed air leaks, but there is just one problem, the upper threshold of human hearing.

The average frequency of compressed air leaks leaves a bit of a difference between the two to the point where you are going to need something to help make up that gap if you are serious about fixing your compressed air leaks. Bridging the gap is as simple as a single ultrasonic leak detector. And A10 has the most reliable leak detectors on the market to uncover all your compressed air leaks.

The best method of finding compressed air leaks in your system is going to be with an ultrasonic leak detector. Through microphones and a digital display these devices are able to detect compressed air leaks that exist outside of our senses whether that be vertically or audibly. By setting your leak detector to the range or frequency of your compressed air leaks you will be able to point this device around to locate leaks you otherwise wouldn’t be able to identify. By using microphones the devices are able to pinpoint the location of compressed air leaks through the direction and size of the sound waves.

Once we have detected the compressed air leaks, it is time to evaluate them so that we can understand what you are dealing with.  The first step after detecting a compressed air leak is to evaluate it. During the evaluation period we will need to calculate the total loss of compressed air and the amount of money it costs to create that much air. 


Leak Study, Now What?

At this point, if everything has been completed correctly, the leak detection process would now be considered finished and it is time for the next steps: make a plan for the future. A10 is a resource that can help you revamp your system after leak detections and capitalize on those savings for in the future.

First step in this plan is to determine which leaks to tackle first, determine which ones yield the biggest return on savings and then tackle them in descending severity until we have fixed all of the leaks detected. 

Once we have fixed all of the compressed air leaks, another pass through of the system will confirm the leaks have been repaired, and tighten up anything that might have come loose during the time between. 

Last but not least will be reevaluating your compressed air system. It may seem redundant but taking a look at your system after fixing compressed air leaks can reduce your energy costs even more.

By fixing your compressed air leaks we reduced the overall demand on your compressed air system. If you were operating with no problems and had all of those leaks, your compressor was making a lot more air than actual demand required by your production process. Removing this artificial demand reduces the overall demand placed on your compressor and this means your compressor is going to need to be resized for the new actual demand, while still leaving room for growth.

Remember it is a WHEN and not an IF for compressed air leaks popping up. They are a natural part of compressed air operations and exist in a cycle for a reason, because you are never truly finished with compressed air leak detection and correction.


A10 Compressed Air Services Leak Study


A10 offers complimentary Leak Study Detection, if that is something that interests you check out additional information here.

Go the step beyond with a Complete System Air Audit, give us a call: (864) 605-7792 

If you are interested in purchasing an Ultrasonic Leak Detector head on over to Warthog Air Compressor Store to get your hands on a Prosaris One

Service / Repair

Our Close Air Support is ready when you need it including scheduled maintenance.


Our team is ready to find the parts your struggling to source.


24/7 Emergency Support compressor and dryer rentals - 864.605.7792

Air Flow Audits

We can quickly isolate issues or find the source of your energy waste.