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How Accurate is Trenchless Leak Detection?

The success of a trenchless sewer repair heavily lies in the leak detection process. If professionals lack the tools to accurately pinpoint the damage’s location, excavating may be necessary.

All homeowners know how that goes.

Say hello to a destroyed yard, skyrocketing costs and disruption all week. But not if your sewer experts have reliable trenchless leak detection processes and equipment at their disposal.

Luckily, homeowners in South Central Pennsylvania have easy access to trenchless leak detection services thanks to Drain Magic.

The question is: is the trenchless approach for plumbing leak detection even accurate?

Drain Magic answers this standard homeowner’s query in this article. We’ll also look at the non-invasive options for finding leaks in your underground drains.

Stay tuned.

How Accurate Is Leak Detection in a Trenchless Sewer LineHow Accurate Is Leak Detection in a Trenchless Sewer Line?

First, let’s address the biggest concern: How accurate is trenchless leak detection really?

Very accurate— and that is not overstating it.

We are past the age of traditional methods of repairing or replacing sewer lines. It is only natural that finding pipe leaks also adopt a modern approach. That is what trenchless leak detection services aim to offer, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

The most common water pipe leak detection is the use of snake cameras or sewer cameras. These specialized tools have LED lights, allowing visibility within the dark tubes. Professionals can scour the length for damage and see it from an external monitor in real time.

Unfortunately, using sewer cameras has vast limitations. For one, you need an access point, like a cleanout, to insert the camera. Second, the device’s length may be limited in scouring the entire distance from end to end. Third, build-up and other blockages muddy the camera’s vision, which may result in an inaccurate reading.

Are sewer cameras ineffective, then? Not necessarily. But alternative trenchless leak detection methods are needed to augment its limitations. Below, we’ll check other non-invasive methods to locate leaking pipes.

4 Alternative Methods of Non-invasive Leak Detection

Here are your other options when sewer cameras fail.

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging, called thermography, uses infrared cameras to examine water pipes for leaks. Unlike directly inspecting the pipe’s internals, this process can detect pipes even when buried under soil or concrete. Professionals can note surface variations that lead to the leak using the device’s temperature-detecting head.

Infrared cameras or thermal imaging is one of the most accurate and least invasive trenchless leak detection tactics. Drain Magic uses thermal imaging liberally for our sewer line repair projects.

Acoustic Leak Detection

Acoustic leak detection uses a device equipped with sensitive microphones to detect sounds of water escaping through the pipes. The acoustic capability of these tools penetrates through soil or solid surfaces. While thermal imaging is better for detecting leaks in pipes near the surface, acoustic leak detection goes beyond it.

Usually, sounds of hissing, whistling or dripping indicate a pipe leak. The only drawback is that acoustic leak detection also requires an access point. You may locate the leak’s area, but another tool must pinpoint the exact location.

Leak Correlators

Leak correlators are the partners of acoustic leak detection. Leak correlators often come in pairs to locate the exact location of the pipe leak between each device. 

Allow us to illustrate.

Leak Correlators

After using an acoustic detector, two correlators are placed between two separate access points to sandwich the leak’s supposed location. Each correlator will release electromagnetic pulses to locate the leak’s distance from the correlators. That is how you accurately pinpoint the pipe’s damage.

Trace Gas Leak Detection

Trace gas detection uses a non-toxic and pressurized gas, like nitrogen-hydrogen gaseous mix, to locate leaks. A gas canister is connected to the sewer line to release the gaseous mixture. Professionals then use an air sampling sniffer to detect the gas escaping from the leak. 

Despite the use of gas, this method is actually eco-friendly. It is also practical, except the longer it takes to locate the gas, the more expensive the detection becomes.


With the rise of technology, sewer line repairs and pipe detection practices also radically changed. Today, we have a plethora of trenchless leak detection to choose from.

The question is: is your sewer line expert equipped with these modern tools?

Thankfully, Drain Magic is, and we are ready to serve homeowners living in South Central Pennsylvania. If you ever need a service, don’t hesitate to call us.

Click here to book an appointment.