Civil EngineeringDamage PreventionData InterpretationUtility Locating

Can Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Locate a Pipe Leak? – PART 1

By November 9, 2016 4 Comments

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  • Todd Marcus says:

    Your videos are both informative and interesting. I have definitely learned up a few things by watching them. I am in the leak detection and utility locating business. We utilize GPR as well as leak correlators, and electronic ground mics daily, but have never used GPR for leak detection. This video explains how to locate a leak at approx. 7″-8″ deep (20 cm).
    My question: Most water lines (water mains, service lines, transmission lines, etc. are typically below the frost level, my area is 3′-4′). Are you using a 1 or 2 gig antenna in this explanation (the water line being this shallow), or a 250 – 500mhz antenna, and will this same theory work at the depths that most water lines are buried? Will you still see the same signatures at 4′-6′ depths or deeper and if not, what will the difference in appearance look like?

    • dpbigman says:

      Hi Todd,

      Thanks so much for watching and thanks for the comment. I am glad that the videos are helpful.

      Great question! You picked up on some of the subtle issues in this video. In the video presented here, a 1 to 2 GHz would be appropriate, but services buried deeper (such as at 3 to 4 ft below the surface) should exhibit the same signature and you would likely attempt to get at those with a lower frequency like you suggested (500 or 250 MHz).

      However, I think that it is a matter of scale. The pipe would have to be large enough to track with the lower frequency. A 250 MHz antenna would likely have difficulty (a lot of difficulty) identifying a leak in a PVC pipe that is only a few inches in diameter if it is buried at 5 ft. However, if you visualized the data in 3D (time-slice or iso-surface) then you still would likely be able to identify the extent of the leak and the direction of the plume.

      You can check out Part II of this topic here:

      Using a 250 MHz antenna should still be able to pick up on the signature indicated in this video if the pipe was say…a sewage pipe that was 1 or 2 feet in diameter even if it was buried 4 or 5 feet in the ground.

      I hope this helps and please keep watching and commenting. 🙂

  • It’s interesting to read about how you can use a GPR system to locate a pipe leak. It makes sense that it could be pretty difficult if you have little experience with the radar or if you just don’t know how to use it properly. I’ll have to look into having a professional come by because they would have much more experience than I do and would be able to get more information.

    • dpbigman says:

      Hi Tyler,

      Thanks for the comment! It is a unique application of GPR. I wouldn’t say its the go to in all leak situations, but it can provide additional benefits in hard to detect cases. Do you all use GPR now?