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  1. #1
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    Default Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    It strikes me as bizarre, but both of these have been suggested, along with dyes, as useful for testing pipes for leaks. This is in a 2021 UK book on damp inspection, and I suspect this was lifted from the author's older writing; he'd been in business for decades. But why would either have been used, and for that matter, how?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    I'd just go with compressed air if it is not a water pipe.

    If it is a pressurized water pipe (like a supply pipe), fill piping system with water, then add compressed air to pressurize the system to the required maximum pressurw, for the required minimum length of time, marking test start pressure on gauge, that should also be the test end pressure if there is no leak.

    If testing DWV lines in new work, fill with water to minimum 5 fert above highest fitting being tested when testing DWV system in stages, or to overflow of highest VTR when testing complete system or highest stage.

    Or, for DWV systems, use peppermint test.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I'd just go with compressed air if it is not a water pipe.

    If it is a pressurized water pipe (like a supply pipe), fill piping system with water, then add compressed air to pressurize the system to the required maximum pressurw, for the required minimum length of time, marking test start pressure on gauge, that should also be the test end pressure if there is no leak.

    If testing DWV lines in new work, fill with water to minimum 5 fert above highest fitting being tested when testing DWV system in stages, or to overflow of highest VTR when testing complete system or highest stage.

    Or, for DWV systems, use peppermint test.
    Makes sense. Historical question, though; not seeking a practice recommendation.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    They may use those in UK for plumbing piping, but I haven't heard of that here.

    Hydrogen is not a gas I would use for that, maybe helium (helium is not flammable/explosive like hydrogen gas is), but I'm not even sure there are advantages of using helium over compressing the air in the piping system.

    I'm not sure what they use for testing medical gas piping, but for fuel gas piping they just pressurize the air in the pipes to pressure and hold for minimum time, 15 minutes as I recall, no loss of pressure indicates no leak.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    David,

    Are you referring to residential piping or industrial leak testing?

    Also, is this pure hydrogen or a mixture?

    According to the article in the link below, tt seems that since the hydrogen molecule (2 protone & 2 electrons) is so lightweight, it can leak out of teeny openings more readily than other fluids and even small leaks are easily detected. Apparently, hydrogen can be used in small percentages (5% hydrogen to 95% nitrogen) where it does not present a fire/explosion hazard

    However, this article is focusing on manufacturing rather than residential piping systems. Another article that I read recently is that natural gas leaks are everywhere. Even systems that pass leak testing do leak very small amounts of gas.

    I have never heard of testing residential piping with hydrogen.

    https://www.assemblymag.com/articles/84164-leak-testing-with-hydrogen

    Last edited by Gunnar Alquist; 11-27-2022 at 03:29 PM. Reason: yeah, yeah... forgot to include the link
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    Thanks, Gunnar. Fascinating article. I envisioned pure H2, and testing for leaks with a match. I was asking myself, "What had he intended to write that ended up printed as hydrogen?"

    This isn't industrial parts. Burkinshaw's talking about building inspection, and most of his examples are residential. So maybe in the UK . . . or maybe he's just a very creative soul. He suggests that characteristic in other examples.


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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    Quote Originally Posted by david shapiro View Post
    TI envisioned pure H2, and testing for leaks with a match.
    David,

    Pretty much what I was thinking as well.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    So the Frenchman, Bunsen, gets his burner named after him. Decades later, a U.S. inventor, Venable, develops a burner that allows you to moderate both temperature and length of flame. It's used by testing labs today. Named after him? Nah. It's the Tirrill burner, named after one of the first manufacturers to produce it. So it goes.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    Bunsen was a German chemist. He and his assistant created the Bunsen burner, and, like with many people, their "assistants" do most of the heavy lifting (making the things and improving the things) ... and supposedly ... it was mostly his assistant who created the Bunsen burner, with Bunsen not contributing that much to it (maybe Bunsen came up with the idea and said to his assistant something like 'I need you make this thing I drew up and get it working'? ).

    The Boss almost always gets the credit.

    Regarding hydrogen and helium molecules, I've read things about where those molecules are small enough that they can migrate between the molecules in various materials, escaping out through the materials, without there being an actual "leak".

    I don't see why either, or a mixture of either and something else, would be necessary to test water piping. Piping for medical and industrial gases, yes, but for water piping???

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 11-29-2022 at 10:02 AM. Reason: speelin'
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    Thanks, Jerry. German indeed. Bunsen modified Faraday's design, told his school's instrument-maker Desaga--unusual name for a German--to produce it. The Frenchman was Meker, who modified it to produce multiple flames.

    And if all inventors remained garage-bound machinists, Edison would not have been able to produce the great variety of inventions. And if there weren't jobs for the "here's what I want" employees, who knows what Tesla, and thus Westinghouse, would have ended up doing.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Leak-testing: hydrogen??? Halon???

    Jerry, I've come to the latter part of this 2021 UK book on dampness investigations, where he focuses on methodological details. He says, "Sometimes if a water pipe is not of a significant pressure, the noise at the site of a leak may not be easily heard by the human ear, even when using an amplification unit and headphones. . . The tracer gas commonly used to find water leaks is [5/95% Hydrogen/Nitrogen] . . . in a wide range of applications -- for example, potable water supply lines, boilers, central heating systems, and even for underwater heating systems. . . an outside water pipe below ground . . . ."

    So in the UK, this is not used just for labs or industrial setting.

    As for H2 leaking, if i remember right we have more greenhouse effect from natural gas escaped through leaks in pipeline transmission than from cow farts; much larger/heavier molecules there. Through the wall? I imagine that depends on wall material, thickness, and joinery. We put a cork in it because we want gases to escape, some, and they won't through a glass bottle. If we don't want them to escape, we wrap foil around the cork and wire it down. Right . . . pop?


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