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Leak Detection and Testing with Hydrogen Tracer Gas

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Walwyn Jackson, Leak Detection Service Supervisor
Phone +1.315.434.1226
Walwyn.Jackson [at] inficon.com

Leak Detection on Telecom cables




METHOD / How do I detect leaks on telecom cables located in ducts?

SAFETY / Isn´t there a risk of Hydrogen accumulating and exploding in confined spaces such as manholes if I use your equipment to find sheath faults in telecom cables? I sometimes smoke at work.

LEAK DETECTION / Is it really true that your detectors can detect Hydrogen through concrete?

LEAK DETECTION / When using your method on buried cables, doesn´t the hydrogen take the easiest way up to the surface, and not the shortest?

METHOD / Do I have to open every manhole along the cable route and go down to find where the leak is?





METHOD / How do I detect leaks on telecom cables located in ducts?

ANSWER:

This is easy if you use the Duct Probe 8712, which is an accessory to the Hydrogen Leak Detector 9012XRS. You start by injecting the hydrogen tracer gas (5%H2/95%N2) into the pressurized telephone cable. You then insert the Duct Probe 8712 into the duct. The Duct Probe is a 100m long glass fiber rod with the sensor at its tip. The sensor will immediately indicate where the leak is, and you measure how many meters of the rod that has been inserted into the duct. This gives you the position of the leak.



SAFETY / Isn´t there a risk of Hydrogen accumulating and exploding in confined spaces such as manholes if I use your equipment to find sheath faults in telecom cables? I sometimes smoke at work.

ANSWER:

No, the gas mix of 5% hydrogen in nitrogen can never spontaneously re-concentrate and become explosive. The hydrogen can never reach higher concentrations in the man-hole than the concentration in the gas-bottle. This is according to the 2nd law of thermo dynamics. There are better reasons to stop smoking.



LEAK DETECTION / Is it really true that your detectors can detect Hydrogen through concrete?

ANSWER:

Yes, Hydrogen penetrates anything if you wait long enough. Concrete is normally quite porous as is also many other materials we normally think are solid. Practically we have experience in finding leaks where the tracer gas has had to pass through dirt, mud, gravel, snow, concrete, asphalt and various types of tiles and cobble-stone paving



LEAK DETECTION / When using your method on buried cables, doesn´t the hydrogen take the easiest way up to the surface, and not the shortest?

ANSWER:

Yes, hydrogen takes the easiest way up, but will ALSO go straight up from the leak. In real tests you may in a case like this get a strong indication where you know there is no cable, which will tell you that it may just be a puff of hydrogen taking the easiest way up, through a drain, a fissure or something similar. Just go back to where you know the cable is buried and continue your search and I guarantee that you will find your leak.



METHOD / Do I have to open every manhole along the cable route and go down to find where the leak is?

ANSWER:

No. This is the advantage of our method! Once you have started to inject the trace gas into the telecom cable, the gas will escape through the leak. If you wait long enough there will be so much hydrogen that it will come up around the manhole cover. This can easily be detected by using Surface Probe 8612. You are guided to the right manhole without having to open each and every one. Screening the manholes this way will quickly narrow down the area to search in. Once you have identified the right manhole, you can go down to locate the leak just using the hand probe.



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