Compressed Air Leak Detection

Compressed Air Leak Detection

Compressed air systems are a vital component of many businesses and must offer efficient running hours, especially when you need to reduce energy costs and improve production.

One of the most common problem areas is leakage in the system, slowing the production process and increasing costs. Compressed air leak detection is the best method of dealing with this issue and allowing you to detect leaks before they negatively impact your business. When there are air leaks in a system, your efficiency will dip, and your operating costs will increase,  making your compressed air system an unnecessarily expensive part of your business model.

We’ve shared some of the most common problem areas and explained everything you need to know about compressed air leaks, so you can move forward with confidence.

Understanding Compressed Air System Leaks

When it comes to your compressed air system, a leak is defined as a gas unintentionally venting directly into the surrounding atmosphere. Leaks happen for a variety of reasons, but the main causes of leaks include vibration in the system, corrosion in the valves or joints, and material failure.

Each air compressor system installed in business premises will use a significant amount of electricity, often being the biggest expenditure even when operating well. However, when you find leaks in your system, you can be certain they will be having a detrimental impact on your energy saving efforts.

The nature of compressed air systems means that some leakage is deemed acceptable, up to 10% in most cases. However, if you have noticed an air leakage, then this percentage is likely to be around 40% – 50%, costing you significantly more than a less leaky system. The only way to resolve this, and return to the ideal energy saving model, is to invest in an ultrasonic air leak detector which pinpoints the leaks for you to repair.

The Importance of Regular Leak Detection

Compressed air leaks do not have to be something you accept as standard practice and using tools such as ultrasonic leak detectors can help you ensure accurate and timely air leak detection, ready for you to take action.

If you think that you will be able to notice air leaks as you check for pressure drops and other signs, then you may find that this is not as effective as you first thought. Most industrial plants have considerable background noise to contend with, making it difficult to detect and control leaks as they arise. The result of this is a more expensive system and the neglecting of repairing leaks at the earliest opportunity.

If you aren’t yet convinced about using a tool like an ultrasonic leak detector, it’s also important to consider the impact of ongoing leaks on your air compressors. Compressed air systems need to be maintained regularly to work at the right levels. By the time normal system pressure has dropped and the leaks have become obvious, you may find you need to replace your equipment in its entirety to move forward.

By investing in a leak detection report, you can work on fixing leaks as they arise, saving you time and money, and ensuring optimal output at all times.

Methods of Compressed Air Leak Detection

If you are keen to get to work on your leak detection, there are two main leak detection methods to choose from, traditional or ultrasonic:

Tradition Leak Detection

Traditional leak detection works to detect leaks by using soap and water mixed together and poured over joints to check for bubbles and leakage. When the solution is poured and settled, air leaks flow into the solution and create bubbles at the leak location.

Further leaks can be found by listening for hissing sounds escaping from the equipment, highlighting the areas that may have unexpected air-flow as a result of leakage. The issue with this method is that it requires a quiet environment to locate leaks and can be incredibly time-consuming, reducing your production process and halting work as the equipment is properly checked. If you want to estimate the leak load, you can install a pressure gauge downstream from the volume to get an accurate sense of operating pressure problems.

These traditional methods of managing the leak detection process are really best when you already know which valves are leaking, and you only want to confirm this before paying for a repair.

Ultrasonic Leak Detection

Even the noisiest environments can benefit from ultrasonic leak detectors, and this method of leak finding will help you keep your equipment working for the longest possible time, reducing costs and ensuring production is at the best level possible.

Ultrasonic leak detection uses a microphone that is highly sensitive and can pick up the harmonics that are produced by leakage. The system then converts the signal frequency into an audio signal that can be heard through the ultrasonic detector’s headphones, allowing you to pinpoint leaks intuitively.

One of the greatest benefits of an ultrasonic acoustic detector is that it can reach areas in your system which cannot be accessed by other equipment or methods. Plus, with 8m of range, your compressed air system can be assessed at speed, helping you return to normal operating pressure, and reduced leakage, in next to no time.

Another benefit of this leak detection survey is that you will get a leak detection report to work from, allowing you to reduce your leak rate in a more cost efficient way.

Choosing the Right Leak Detector

If you think that you may have leakage that needs to be addressed, or you are looking for the best compressed air leak detection system to help avoid a reduction in your air pressure, it is important to pick the right system for you.

Take a look at some of these key factors to help you decide which leak detection survey or system you should opt for:


The first thing that you will need to consider is how sensitive you need your leak detection survey to be. If you have large compressors, or a number of systems to check, then using a high sensitivity solution will allow you to find the widest range of leaks.


Again, when you need a quick and precise air leak detection solution, opting for one with the biggest audible range will allow you to check for air leaks more quickly, and on a larger scale. If you only have one compressor or work in an environment with little background noise, a more traditional approach may work better for you.


When you notice low pressure in your system, finding new leaks is always going to be a priority. However, fixing leaks can be expensive so it is important to consider the cost of finding leaks in your compressed air system when you are picking the best leakage detector for your needs.

Implementing a Leak Detection Programme

Are you ready to implement an effective leak detection programme for your compressed air system? Take a look below at the steps you need to follow:

  • Choose Your Leak Detection Solution – this means picking between traditional and more modern options.
  • Agree on a Leak Detection Plan – this means regular checks of areas such as your distribution system, valves, flow, and pressure, to ensure that leakage is not present.
  • Decide Who Will Implement – appoint the people who will be responsible for your compressed air compressor units and agree on a maintenance plan.
  • Undertake Regular Repairs – once the programme is in full swing, ensure that any repair work is done on a regular basis.
  • Monitor Costs – finally, ensure that your system pressure, energy costs, and flow, are being monitored so your costs are kept within the optimal range for each compressor in your system.
Compressed Air Leak Detection
Compressed Air System

Let Control Gear Support

It’s clear that investing in a leak detection survey or process is a great way to keep your compressed air system in perfect working order. However, knowing what to choose or how to proceed can be difficult.

At Control Gear, we take pride in knowing everything you need to know about compressed air, and can explain everything, from cfm(free air) to discovering each leak site with confidence.

If you are ready to find out more, and want to keep your cost and repair requirements low, then we’d love to help. Reach out today to find out more!