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Boiler Piping Leak Detection

We recently (2018) did a piping replacement project in 14 apt buildings. We only did work in the boiler rooms and our piping is visible. Another contractor did the piping in the attics and in the walls of all the apartments replacing underfloor piping with PEX in the attic and running down the walls. We were asked to take over in the boiler rooms as the first contractor was not going to get done in time for heating in 2018. Of course they are loosing pressure and having to add glycol back in the system, reliefs were checked. I told them if you see leaks in the boiler room piping call us and we will warranty our work, there is none. Contractor B says there is no leaks in there piping even though they cannot see it all. Has anyone come up with anyway of locating a small leak using scents? Maybe peppermint oils? Any ideas?


  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,384
    edited November 2019
    You might want to try putting a type of non hazardous dye into the water. Using a scent is very often too difficult to locate.👃
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,106
    Is there any way to positively separate your work from the other contractor's? Not trying to cast blame here, but simply from a liability/warranty point of view if you could demonstrate by a pressure test/leakdown test confined to your work only you would be in a better position here. If there isn't, it might almost be worth the expense to provide isolation valves... which are sure to be cheaper than lawyers.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,499
    Other than "divide and conquer". Likely cant be done during the heating season.

    As Jamie said, valve out as many things as you can and monitor pressure in all of the sub systems as you can.

    Once the offending part is discovered, then you can further valve and monitor just that part of the system.

    As far as leaking water...well it usually shows up!

    Any buried in concrete or underground pipe? An infrared camera and the hottest water the system will produce may shed some light on it.

    You mentioned glycol.....ewwwwww. I hate glycol. It finds its way out of every little crevice of a system.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,384
    Infrared camera. Now that is an excellent idea.
    @Mkowal5220 if you can put infrared to use it might be the best way to go as @Solid_Fuel_Man says ^^^^^^^^^^^^.
  • Mkowal5220
    Mkowal5220 Member Posts: 7
    From what I found it seems like adding glycol to the system always involve some leakage so we added glycol feeders to each building, problem went away. I now add feeders to every glycol project.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,499
    So you are saying to solve a leaking problem you just add a feeder and keep putting more glycol in? I wouldn't consider that making a problem go away. 

    Glycol is a band aid in a hesting system. 

    Glycol should be reserved for snowmelt and other special circumstances. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!