What is Electronic Leak Detection and how does it work?

Category: Detect & Inspect Property Defects

Electronic leak detection

Electronic Leak Detection with a Brush?

Did you know that that one of the most effective practices for leak detection on a flat roof is simply sweeping the surface with a brush?

We’re not, however, talking about the beaten up old thing you give your living room the once-over with.

Instead, this brush is electrically charged with a voltage of up to 40,000 volts and features conductive bristles constructed with phosphor bronze.

In the right hands, an Electronic Leak Detection (ELD) brush can pinpoint every penetration on your roof in an unbelievably quick, inexpensive and non-destructive way, allowing for the most accurate establishment of problem areas.

Combined with IRT Surveys’ use of infrared thermography, it helps to give our clients the most comprehensive defect detection report on offer with ELD highlighting the location of all penetrations and the thermal image visually revealing the extent of the problems.

How does Electronic Leak Detection work?

ELD is a process for detecting pinhole penetrations in roofing membranes. Unlike infrared thermography, its aim is not to establish the precise extent of problems, instead focussing on identifying where the holes are located.

With one end of the brush earthed to the building, the surveyor brushes over the roof surface and is alerted to penetrations by a visible spark and audible tone from the equipment. This allows them to mark the exact location of a problem area.

Advantages of Electronic Leak Detection for flat roof surveying

  • Rapid surveying technique.
  • Cheap for client.
  • Detects the defect there and then.
  • Pinpoints individual penetration points.

Disadvantages of Electronic Leak Detection for flat roof surveying

  • Due to the unskilled nature of the work, there are a lot of unscupulous surveyors out there.
  • Its low price means it is not a valued surveying technique.
  • It can only be used in dry weather and on dry surfaces.
  • It doesn’t ‘see’ beyond the penetration.

Infrared thermal imaging complements electronic leak detection

Infrared thermal imaging (IRT) has many advantages, which means that it nicely complements ELD.

  • Reveals the damage caused by the hole.
  • Visual image compels budget holders to fix it.
  • Infrared theremography reports help ascertain blame and resolve conflict.
  • Vast areas can be surveyed very quickly.

Flat roof surveying at a Blackburn school

IRT surveus recently surveyed a school in Blackburn while the school remained fully operational. In that particular project, IRT surveys was commissioned to assess the condition of the property’s 6,800m2 roof due to concerns over missing insulation and moisture underneath the waterproofing system.

While the thermal image identified 1,462m2 of damaged insulation, ELD revealed 59 penetrations in the existing waterproofing system within the thermal anomaly regions.

Thanks to the complementary relationship of ELD and infrared thermography, the client was given clear evidence of the extent of the damage and the precise spots of problems areas.

Flat roof surveying at a domestic property

The fact that ELD assessments can also be carried out quickly is hugely beneficial, particularly when a suspected roof is shown not to be the cause of a problem after all.

IRT surveys were commissioned to survey a domestic dwelling. While the property owner believed moisture ingress to stem from a leak from the flat roof above the property, our ELD assessment quickly established that there were no penetrations and that the roof, in fact, was in excellent condition.

It was down to the thermal image, therefore, to show the source of ingress to be porous brickwork on the walls, which was found to show anomalies in the same area both internally and externally.

While assessment of the roof using more traditional surveying techniques would have been time-consuming, hugely destructive and ultimately fruitless, the non-destructive and speedy nature of ELD, combined with IRT, ensured it was given the all clear without any inconvenience to anyone in the surrounding area.

A unique tool  combination to prevent claims

This is precisely why more and more roofing manufacturers are also using the combination ELD+IRT for quality assurance tests.

Providing clients with visual evidence of the quality of workmanship not only reassures them, it also enhances the manufacturers’ credibility and helps prevent them against frivolous claims and potential legal issues in the future.

Should want to find out how the combination ELD+IRT could help you with flat roof leak detection, please contact us by clicking the button below.

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