Finding Leaks Made Easier Using Pulsar 2000 System

Pulsar 2000 line-tracing technology keeps technicians homed in on the correct pipe, avoiding costly leak-location mistakes

Finding Leaks Made Easier Using Pulsar 2000 System

Travis Nieves, Admiral Plumbing Services technician, uses Pulsar 2000 pipe-tracing and leak-detection equipment on a job site in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Admiral Plumbing Services)

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Rich Bassoff remembers when tracing copper lines used to be a time-consuming and frustrating process for the technicians at Admiral Plumbing Services in Jupiter, Florida.

But those days are gone, thanks to the Pulsar 2000 line-tracing system, made by Pulsar 2000. Technicians now locate leaks faster and more accurately, which has improved both productivity and profitability for the business, owned by Service Experts.

“We own 10 Pulsar 2000s,” says Bassoff, who established the company in 2004 and now serves as its general manager. The firm’s 28 technicians perform service and repair work for customers in roughly a 30-mile radius around Jupiter, located on Florida’s eastern coast, about 90 miles north of Miami.

“I love the Pulsars,” he says. “We used to energize entire pipe systems to locate leaks, but now we don’t use anything else for line tracing. Every job is different, of course, but I’d say that on average, the Pulsar 2000 cuts in half the time it takes to locate a leak.”

To find leaks, technicians at Admiral Plumbing Services still use their common sense, as well as acoustic leak-detection equipment, in conjunction with the Pulsar 2000. (The company relies on acoustic systems made by SubSurface Leak Detection and Fisher Research Laboratory, a First Texas Products company.) But after the Pulsar 2000 helps them home in on the correct pipe, the acoustic equipment can do its job more effectively, he explains.

“I like to use an interstate highway as an analogy,” Bassoff says. “The Pulsar 2000 keeps our technicians from straying off onto an off-ramp. When you energize all the pipes in a house like we used to, it’s hard to tell which one is the interstate highway and which ones are the bad detours. This basically eliminates those detours.”

MAPPING OUT A PATH

Here’s how it works: Technicians first use acoustic leak-detection equipment to determine the general area where they believe the leak is located. Then they further fine-tune the process by using an air compressor to force air into the system; air bubbles escaping through the leak are easier to hear through the acoustic system’s earphones.

If a technician determines that the leak probably is in a cold-water line in a bathroom, for example, he then attaches a clamp to the cold-water outlet on the water heater. A wire at the end of the clamp gets plugged into the Pulsar 2000’s transmitter unit.

Then a 100-foot-long wire mounted on a reel gets plugged into the transmitter on one end and clamped onto the cold-water inlet pipe in the bathroom on the other end, creating a circuit that energizes only the cold-water line from the water heater to that particular bathroom.

“Then we use the Pulsar’s wand to follow that energized copper line,” explains Chris Leosis, service manager. “The wand picks up the signal and keeps us on top of it.”

DIFFICULT JOB MADE EASY

When asked to cite a particularly tough job made easier by the Pulsar 2000, Leosis recalls a 36,000-square-foot home in Stuart. The owner’s water bill was $5,000 a month, so there obviously was a leak. Luckily, the home had two exposed 1 1/4-inch-diameter water services, so Leosis connected one end of the Pulsar system to the outside copper line and one to the cold side of the water heater.

“Then I used the wand to go through the house and find the main,” he says. “That machine really saved our butts. Can you imagine trying to find which wall that main was coming up through in a 36,000-square-foot house? We sure didn’t want to have to open up walls to try to find the leak.”

Some old-fashioned plumbing smarts also remain part of the process. Leosis didn’t find any sign of water leaking inside the house, so he knew it had to be a subsurface leak. (Most homes in Florida don’t have basements, so the pipes are encased in concrete slabs upon which the homes are built.)

“I knew that much water (to generate a $5,000 monthly water bill) won’t travel through a 1/2-inch line,” he says. “So I knew it would be a mainline, not a 1/2-inch line branching off it. With the wand, I was able to map the entire mainline through the whole house. I used painter’s tape to mark it, then used audio leak-detection equipment to find the leak more finitely.”

Leosis determined the leak was under a pantry floor made from hand-quarried marble tiles affixed to a 12-inch-thick concrete slab. “There’s no margin for error when you’re dealing with a luxury home of that magnitude,” he says, noting how expensive it would’ve been to break open the floor in the wrong spot.

BETTER PRODUCTIVITY, PROFITABILITY

The Pulsar 2000 is easy to learn how to use and has proved to be durable, too. A reasonably competent technician could pick it up after using it about 10 times, he estimates.

Periodically, the unit exposes problems that require whole-house repiping projects, which only adds to its value as a revenue generator. But on a daily basis, the primary benefit is helping technicians finish jobs faster, which allows them to make more service calls each year than they otherwise would, Leosis says.

“When you use just leak detection equipment, sounds can get thrown from different distances and throw you off,” he points out. “But when I use the Pulsar 2000, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m on top of that line — there’s no interference or sound distortion. That’s critical when you’re digging up the floors in peoples’ living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens — you want to be right the first time.

“I just did a job yesterday where the Pulsar 2000 showed that a line was 2 feet over from where I thought it would be,” he adds. “It’s an invaluable tool every time we use it.”



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