What is Pipe Leak Testing?A Guide to Using Inflatable Pipe Plugs for Pipe Leak Testing

When we talk about pipe leak testing, traditional methods can be a thing of the past. Inflatable pipe plugs have revolutionized the industry, offering a more efficient, cost-effective, and safer way to test water and air tightness.

What is Pipe Leak Testing?

Pipe leak testing is a crucial step ensuring the integrity of piping system, as undetected leaks can have devastating consequences, from costly repairs and replacements to safety hazards and event environmental disasters.

There are two primary methods for testing a pipeline: water testing and air testing.

Water Leak Testing

Water leak testing, also known as infiltration and exfiltration testing, involves filling the pipe with water to a specified pressure and wait for the required time to detect the leak if any. The specified pressure and testing time can be defined by the consultant or simply by following one of the known standards in this regard in case of concrete pipes such as EN1610 or ASTM C969M. In EN1610 standard, for example, the pressure test must not exceed 0,5 bar (5 meters waterhead) while the testing time must be 30min.

Air Pipe Leak Testing

Air leak testing uses compressed air to pressurize the piping system. As for in water leak testing, here also the testing pressure and time are defined by the consultant or by following one of the known standards in this regard such as EN1610, which defines the test pressure and time as per many criteria.

The air leak testing is a more cost-effective and efficient option. However, if the air testing fails, the water leak testing must be conducted as per the standard EN1610.

In both air leak testing, and water leak testing, pipe test plugs come into play.

What is Inflatable Pipe Plug?

Inflatable pipe plugs are usually, cylindrical rubber-made devices that can be inserted into a pipe and then inflated to create a secure seal, allowing for a wide range of testing and inspection procedures to be performed.

Inflatable pipe plugs are available either as blind model (without bypass connection), called pipe plugs, or as flow-through model (with bypass connection), called pipe test plugs.

What is Pipe Plug?

Pipe plugs are made of SBR+NR mixed rubber, Nylon cord, Kevlar cord, and strong fabrics. Usually used to seal off and block the flow in the pipeline in order to conduct some maintenance and repairing works, pipe plugs can be also used to test a pipeline with water.

Pipe plugs, also known as pipe balloons, can be used in different types of pipes and hold different back pressure depending on the used model.

What is Pipe Test Plug?

Pipe test plugs are similar to pipe plugs, but with an added feature of bypass line. The bypass connection allows the fluid in the pipeline to flow through the pipe test plug. This is particularly useful in situations where the pipeline cannot completely shut down.

Pipe test plugs, known also as flow-through plugs, are also used for both air and water leak testing.

Using Inflatable Pipe Plugs for Pipe Leak Testing

When it comes to pipe leak testing, inflatable pipe plugs are a game-changer. In fact, the pipe plugs are often more cost-effective than traditional testing methods, such valves and caps, which can be both expensive and time-consuming.  

Inflatable Pipe Plugs for Water Leak Testing

Pipe Leak Testing
Pipe Leak Testing

There are two cases to identify before starting the water leak testing; using the manhole or without using the manhole.

In case the manhole is used to fill the water in the test area, then two blind pipe plugs will be enough to perform this test.

In case the manhole is not used and the water must be filled in the test area through the pipe test plug, then on blind pipe plug and one pipe test plug need to be used to perform this test.

Pipe Plugs for Air Leak Testing

Since the air needs to be pressurized in the test area, it is mandatory to use the flow-through pipe plug from one side. As for the other side, it can be sealed by using a pipe plug. There are some important accessories that needs to be used in order to monitor the air leak testing as well, such as the air test adapter, which allows the tester to monitor the air pressure in the test area.

Benefits of Using Inflatable Pipe Plugs for a Pipe Leak Testing?

When it comes to pipeline testing, the right tools can make all the difference. Pipe test plugs are a game-changer in the industry, offering a multitude of benefits that make them an essential component of any pipeline testing operation. The pipe test plugs are allowing for testing of a wide range of pipe sizes and types, from small diameters to large, complex networks. They are also remarkably easy to use, requiring minimal setup and installation time, which means less downtime and increased productivity.