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Gimme that old time leak detector

I had a visit from Southern Water at the office this morning. Seems there’s a water leak on the path that runs past the building and they were looking for the origin. I had to fetch keys and open up storage rooms so they could test the pipes.

Funny pair. It was an older woman, graying at the temples, and a young man who was on the phone the entire time. I don’t know if he was doing something important related to finding the leak or if it was a kids these days situation.

She had a device with a wooden cup shape at the top and a long thin metal rod. Like the picture above, except her wooden bit was larger and look like it had worn down over decades of use. I thought it was solid, but the description I found online says it’s hollow. Anyway, it’s flat, not pierced in any way at the top and the pipe is solid, too.

It works like a giant stethoscope. She held it against a pipe and she could hear if water was flowing through it. She let me fiddle with it for a while and frankly I want one now.

I tried to find it online for you, but I didn’t know what to search for. I used all kinds of combinations of sono- and aqua- and probe and meter and I finally found it and do you want to know what it’s really called? Do you? I swear to dog, it’s called a Water Listening Stick. They’re about £35.

Here’s the article that picture came from, about a young man who is a leak detector in Cornwall. Here’s a more general article about what water sounds like leaking out of pipes (but using the sort of electronic equipment you’d expect). It’s oddly interesting.

We weren’t the leaker, by the way. She said they’d find the pipe, put a stopcock on it above the leak and turn it off. Then they wait to see if anyone yelps about their water being cut off. There’s so much stuff down there, apparently, that it could be a pipe that hasn’t actively carried water to anyone in a hundred years.

And now you’ve learned something utterly useless. Good weekend!


Comment from ExpressoBold Pureblood
Time: February 24, 2023, 8:52 pm

That is an amazing device…

Know what else is amazing? Both Jimmah and Tom are still with us.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 24, 2023, 11:21 pm

Useless? We had 2 slab leaks to the tune of +$10k after they ‘located’ them with their modern gear and then discovered the slab reinforced beam walls were between where they thought the leak was

and where they jackhammered up our floor.

Twice…(so that’s 4 jackhammered holes for those counting along at home)

I’d be willing to take the dice roll on the usefulness of the device at those prices.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 25, 2023, 12:42 am

No, no. This is exactly the sort of thing I like to know about. 🙂

I’ll be refinishing a small dining table this weekend (I sanded on it all day), that I will use as a desk. Next week I hope to move my entire office into a new room, with my new “desk.” Which I will place back to back with my drafting table … my dream come true.

Comment from technochitlin
Time: February 25, 2023, 12:53 pm

Back in another lifetime, when I wrenched on cars for a living, I would do something similar with a long large screwdriver. I would rest the tip against a running motor’s block and press my temple against the handle. I could hear everything mechanical going on inside that engine, including any ticks or banging that didn’t sound right. It was a handy investigative device!

Early version of computer diagnosis, I guess.

Comment from Jeff Weimer
Time: February 25, 2023, 11:07 pm

Our water usage went up a *lot* in the my monitored period without obvious events that would explain it. Maybe it would be good to get one of these.

Comment from BigBlueBug
Time: February 26, 2023, 5:33 pm


Where is that person inserting the spy needle when they’re not out looking for leaks. Sorry to bother but I’m out on supervisory leave. The Don Ho inlay pattern you made worked out perfect. If you have any Ricky Ricardo artwork laying around, please post it. I have a sweet little plank of quarter sawn English brown oak that has dulcimer written all over it. I should be allowed to have my tools back soon. I’ve missed you all.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 27, 2023, 2:25 pm

🎶Tommy can you hear me?🎶

Comment from steve
Time: February 27, 2023, 3:05 pm

Oh, the juxtaposition of sweasel posts!

Merged thread title: Water listening stick enters Pratts Bottom.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: February 27, 2023, 7:32 pm

Big Blue Bug: I…what?

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 27, 2023, 8:26 pm

Kenneth, what is the frequency?

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