Inbuilt House Vacuum Cleaning System Leak

Some houses have an inbuilt vacuum cleaner system behind the walls, with the main suction unit in the garage or storage area. If the suction pressure of the vacuum cleaner falls away, how do you find out where the air is escaping?

Recently we were called out to a job where the contracted installers of the system had an air leak issue that they couldn’t detect, causing a reduction in suction and general performance of the system by 25%.

What other options did they try to find the leak before calling us?

• They replaced the original suction unit to make sure that wasn’t the problem, and the new one had the same fall in pressure.
• They stuck a snake camera right up the vacuum pipe to see if there were any screws or nails penetrating the pipe from a recent home renovation. The main issue with this option is you can’t get the camera to snake around every different pipe because there were offshoots of piping to each individual outlet off the main pipe.
• They had listened closely with their ear up against the wall in many areas to detect a potential ‘hissing’ sound where air could be escaping. No luck there either.

After spending literally hours in travel time, changing units over , hiring cameras to go up the pipe, lots of frustration etc, we came in with the thermal imaging camera and detected a ‘hot spot’ on the internal wall lining within 15 minutes.

How did we detect a hot spot when there is no hot air in a household vacuum cleaner?

We blocked all the vacuum outlet holes in each room, then pumped hot air into the network of pipes from the main suction unit. Due to the close proximity of the internal vacuum pipes to the internal wall gib board/plasterboard lining, it was easy to detect the hot air leak using our infrared thermal imaging cameras. This is because the pressurized hot air was coming out of the breach in the pipe and hitting the wall lining.

Our IR cameras are very sensitive and detect down to 0.10 of a degree, therefore where the hot air was hitting the back of the wall was a different temperature to the rest of the wall. Easy work for the infrared camera. Job done!

If you have an issue with a similar type leak, and there are no certified thermographers in your area

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