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Leak detectors, also called gas detectors and leak detectors, per their application, are devices made to detect, identify, and alert those in the area of gas or liquid system leaks. Using ultrasonic waves, sound, visible indicators, or flame ionization, leak detectors recognize changes in pressure and flow rates and can determine the size and composition of a leak. Many leak detectors are installed as permanent members of a safety system, while others are only temporary, detecting with portable sensors.

Leak detectors play a very important role in everyday life, as humans use a variety of different gases that are potentially dangerous if ingested or if not contained. This is especially true of natural gas and refrigerants. Natural gas is an energy source used for water heating, home heating, cooking, and automobile heating and powering. Natural gas is potentially dangerous for a few different reasons. For starters, composed of methane gas, it is highly flammable. It would be easy for an explosion to occur or a fire to start if even just a small flame or spark came in contact with leaked gas. Also, if it is ingested in large amounts, methane gas can cause death.

The other common harmful gas group, refrigerants, are found in air conditioning equipment, freezers, and refrigerators. Many older refrigeration systems are cooled with a class of chemicals called freon, which can cause not only heart problems but a depletion of the ozone layer. Dangers like these are the reason why it is so important that heating systems, vehicles, furnaces, and refrigeration systems, both in the home and in commercial settings, come equipped with one or more leak detectors. Read More…

Leading Manufacturers

Furness Controls

Indian Trail, NC | 800-898-5325

MIL-Ram Technology, Inc.

Fremont, CA | 888-464-5726

Ansonics, Inc.

El Prado, NM | 575-758-4555

Madison Company

Branford, CT | 800-466-5383

USA Industries, Inc.

South Houston, TX | 800-456-8721


As mentioned, leak detectors identify leaks in a number of different ways, using different equipment, namely four different types of equipment: ultrasonic, electronic, gas, and flame ionization.

Ultrasonic leak detectors make gas leaks known to humans by converting the quiet, high frequency noises they make into louder sounds in a range that the human ear can pick up. These are mostly used for detection of large gas leaks; human counterparts listen for change in frequency through headphones.

Electronic leak detectors offer the fastest leak detection times via one of two main methods: heated diode detection and corona discharge detection. A diode is simply a type of semiconductor used as a sensor. Heated diode detectors, which may be labeled as semiconductor leak detectors, use a heated sensor that reacts if and when it comes in contact with rogue gas.

Corona discharge detectors are a bit more complicated. Equipped with a corona discharge sensing tip consisting of diffusing casing in which resides an anode electrode surrounding a cathode, they create a high voltage corona that will sound an alarm should it detect any changes in gas molecules.

Corona discharge detectors are the older of the two, and they are mostly used for the detection of the leak of refrigerants like freon. Because they can emit false alarms set off by moisture, solvents, or dust, corona detectors are not preferred.

A large number of detectors fall into the category of gas detectors, including those that detect halogen leaks, vacuum leaks, freon leaks, and natural gas leaks. They work by first pumping a tracer gas, such as hydrogen or helium, into a system with a suspected leak. Once the gas is inside, the gas detector measures the rate of the leak with a mass spectrometer. This method, also called direct injection mass spectrometry, allows for the quick detection and quantification of volatile organic compound leaks.

A final type of leak detector, flame ionization leak detectors, detect leaks by producing a flame between oppositely charged electrodes. The flame reacts with whatever gases are present and produce ions. These ions then move towards and run into the field between the electrodes, producing a current. Once these ions are measured, operators can learn the level of the leak, because the ions produced during combustion are proportional to the concentration of the leak.

In addition to these main detectors, there are a number of lesser leak detectors available for use on the market. These include leak testers and gas analyzers, which use flow measurement to test for changes in pressure. Gas analyzers can detect the composition of one gas and confirm or deny its presence, but that is it; they cannot locate it. While limited, these tools are helpful in the definition and monitoring of mass spectrometers.

Another example, infrared analyzers, are designed to only monitor CO2 gas, unlike combustion analyzers, which monitor and measure both CO2 gas and flue gases. Another analyzer type, exhaust analyzers, are made specifically to test the exhaustion of vehicles and other machines. Finally, residual analyzers are used for contamination and process control, particularly of semiconductors.

Leak detectors serve applications in many industries. In scientific and automotive applications, they are found on water pumps, measuring equipment, cylinder heads, hydraulic components, and calibrated volume vessels. In the medical industry, they watch for leaks in fluid transfer devices, containers, pumps, and more.

They keep homes and offices safe by offering carbon monoxide detection and water leak detection. These are just a few examples. To learn more, contact a professional today.

Leak Detector Informational Video