Why is leak detection important for your vacuum system?

If you have a vacuum system, you need a helium leak detector. You spend a lot of money on vacuum pumps, piping, hardware, and gauges, but if you have a leak, your system ends up not working effectively and you're throwing away money. Leak detection is an important step that you should not skip during your vacuum system application. Leak detection is crucial to make sure your system is working effectively and performs to its fullest potential. Keep reading to learn more about leak detection, the different types of leak detectors, and why it's crucial to your application!

Why would you detect leaks in your vacuum system?

  1. Protection for personnel and environment
    • Leaks in overpressure equipment or systems can lead to contamination of the environment with harmful substances (toxic liquids or gases).
  2. Assurance of product quality
    • A product can be negatively impacted in terms of quality and reliability by material loss or penetration of foreign substance or gas by exceeding pass/fail design criteria.
  3. Maintenance and operational readiness of machines or manufacturing systems
    • Unacceptable leak rates endanger the operational readiness or even the safety of machines and systems, reduce their effectiveness, disrupt process flow, and leads to defective end product.

How can I find out if I have a leak in my vacuum system?

There are multiple methods utilized to detect leaks, we recommend you to use a helium leak detector and isolate the system into small parts making sure each section is leak tight to your specification. The key is to reduce the flow of the helium tracer gas to make sure you pin point and repair any leaks in each individual section tested. Eventually, you’ll be able to isolate the vacuum system from the installation and by a process of elimination you’ll be able to find the source of the leak.

Where is the leak?

To discover where your leak is located, you can use a helium leak detector and helium as a tracer gas. The key is to use the least amount of helium during the leak test and start at the highest point away from your vacuum pumps. If the system is using vacuum, use the integral method (outside in). If it’s used for positive pressure, use the over pressure method and sniff (inside out).

How big is the leak?

If installed directly to your vacuum system (no external vacuum pumps), the helium leak detector will display the actual measured value of your leak (mbar l/s, atm cc/s, etc). There are several calculations that can be done that can convert the actual displayed value of the leak rate into an actual whole size. If you using external vacuum pumps and parallel with a helium leak detector remember the actual leak rate is higher than the displayed value due to the split flow ratio of the amount of helium going to the leak detector compared to the external backing pumps (split flow principal).

Can the leak be eliminated?

A leak can’t be eliminated completely. There is no such thing as 100% leak tightness, everything leaks at some value. However, how much is leak is a relative term and is a function of your system and application. The acceptable leak rate for your specific system should be determined by the required vacuum level of your vacuum system. Once the actual vacuum level of your system has been determined you can easily established your specific pass/fail leak criteria for your system and/or application.


Leak Detection & Energy Audits

With our advanced tools for leak detection and data-logging, Ash Air can detect leaks and analyse your energy consumption. We will provide you with a comprehensive and easy-to-understand report and recommend the right solution for your system and save you money.


Why Fix Leaks?


Why Start With Leaks?

  • Very short payback, typically between 3 to 6 months.
  • Find your spare compressor!
  • Base load energy reduction.
  • Can significantly lower annual maintenance cost!

Ash Air service technicians actively look for energy saving opportunities and we are keen to pass any significant energy savings onto our customers.

A comprehensive leak detection survey on your compressed air system is one way that we can do this for our customers. A survey can be carried out with minimal disruption to your production schedule and we are happy to work in with you to establish the best possible schedule to achieve this.

Typically the survey can be carried out during the normal operation of your plant / facility or we can arrange to carry out the survey during a scheduled shutdown, weekend or overnight shuts.

Leaks are one of the primary forms of wasted energy in an industrial compressed air system.
Typically wasting 20 to 30 percent of a compressor’s output, sometimes as much as 50%.
Periodic leak detection and repair will reduce system leaks to a more acceptable industry best practice rate of less than 10 percent of compressor output.

In addition to being a source of wasted energy, leaks can also contribute to other operating losses.
Leaks cause a drop in system pressure, which can make air operated devices function less efficiently, this can adversely affect productivity and profitability.

As a result, equipment can be forced to run longer.
Leaks shorten the life of almost all Compressed Air system equipment (including the compressor package itself).
Increased running hours will lead to additional maintenance requirements and potentially unscheduled and avoidable downtime.


Since air leaks are generally impossible to see, other methods must be used to locate them. The best way to detect leaks is to use an ultrasonic acoustic detector, which can recognize the high-frequency hissing sounds associated with air leaks. This portable instrument consists of directional microphones, amplifiers and audio filters. They usually have either visual indicators and/or earphones to detect leaks.
By means of scanning around a test area, it is possible to very quickly latch onto a leak and pin point its location. For this reason, ultrasonic leak detection is not only fast, but also very accurate in the hands of a trained Technician.
However, No leak survey has ever saved anyone any money! The only way to save money is to Repair the leaks identified!
A follow up survey should be undertaken to ensure all repairs have been completed correctly.
Ash Air Ultrasound leak detection covers a wide range of leaks: pressure or vacuum and any common industrial gases.
Ultrasound instruments detect the turbulent flow produced as the fluid (liquid or gas) moves from the high-pressure side to the low-pressure side of a leak. As it passes through the leak site, a turbulent flow is generated. This turbulence has strong ultrasonic components which are heard through headphones and seen as intensity increments or decibels on the instrument’s display panel. It can be generally taken that the larger the leak, the greater the ultrasound level.
For this reason ultrasound leak detection is used in many facilities for safety, environmental, energy and/or quality assurance requirements.

Energy Audits

The benefits of a Compressed Air Audit, are the potential reductions in the operating costs for the end user; this in turn will improve the productivity of the manufacturing process. Ash Air can tailor a compressed air audit to suit your needs. If a walk through audit is sufficient one of our team of trained staff can carry this out, and feed this information back to you in a professional report with actions and recommendations.

We can also offer full in depth audits; with a comprehensive data logging of your compressed air equipment on site. As a result of this, we can propose recommendations to enhance the operation of your equipment on site. Energy represents the largest cost associated with operating an industrial compressor and therefore represents the largest opportunity for savings. One way AshAir can help to calculate your energy consumption is through the use of a data loggers. During off load running, fixed speed compressors deliver no air but can still consume between 20-40% of full load power.

At Ash Air we know it's important to understand a users air demand so that the best solution can be identified in order to save energy losses. Data Loggers can be connected to the incoming electricity supply which records a reading of the incoming Amps every 90 seconds over a seven day period. This data is then downloaded from the data logger into a software package. Graphs and reports can be produced to simulate and calculate energy consumption. This data can then be analysed to produce a demand profile for the compressor system and subsequently an accurate compressor profile can be recommended. Installing the correct compressor for your system requirements is the first step in saving energy and reducing your energy costs.

Top 10 Targets of a Compressed Air Leak Detection / Audit

Following the recommendations of a leak detection / audit usually pays for itself in a short time by saving tens of thousands of dollars in operating expenses.

The 10 most typical, highest payback audit items are:


Plug leaks

Set up a short-term leak inspection program through ultrasound so that every sector of the plant is inspected at least once a quarter to identify and repair leaks.


“Down with over pressurization”

Excessive pressure increases leaks and wastes money. Over pressurization will amplify problems, not solve them.


Double-check air requirements

Production often overestimates the amount of air it needs. Plants need to change their focus from maintaining air supply to supplying air to meet demand. More air and more pressure is simply more cost.


Angle connections

All teed off – replace tee connections with directional angel entry connections.



Convoluted piping, piping restrictions, old pipes and incorrect pipe sizes often lead to pressure loss.


Get rid of obsolete restrictions

Clogged filter elements, forgotten manual drain traps and neglected separator cartridges can cause significant drops in pressure and negatively impact capacity and reliability, not to mention creating air-quality issues.


Insufficient storage

The value of an appropriately sized air receiver and appropriate compressed air piping is underestimated. All air systems will do better with storage between the user and the process. The amount of effective storage for any system is where the operating control band is equalized by the back pressure in the system.


Inappropriate use

Unregulated use of compressed air, and using compressed air for inappropriate purposes, wastes a lot of energy. Considering it costs eight times as much to use air as it does to use electricity, you may want to re evaluate unregulated air-powered cabinet coolers, blow-offs, vacuum generators, mechanical pumps, air motors and hoists, vibrators, aeration, spraying and a host of other equipment.


Maintain the system

Poor air quality adversely affects overall plant operations.


Poor maintenance also affects efficiency

Make sure you have a planned route and are consistently conducting compressed air surveys in order to ensure your plant is running as efficiently as possible.


Anytime, anywhere, you can count on us. How can we help you today? Air Compressor Service? Sales? Product Information? We would be happy to answer your questions!

With 13 service locations nationwide, we are here when you need us as your compressed air specialists.

Contact Us Contact Us    0800 808 486

Do you have an idea for our #expertcornerLet us know!

Who we are and how Ash Air can help your business!

Ash Air has been around in New Zealand since 1979, and we’ve grown into a nationwide company with international support and a reputation for quality and reliability.We look after all things compressed air for your business!

  • Reciprocating, Screw, air compressors
  • Vacuum pumps
  • Nitrogen
  • An extensive line of air treatment components

Ash Air's range of Chicago Pneumatic, Alup, Pneumatech, and Quincy compressors are used extensively around the world in industries ranging from oil and gas to food, automotive and farming, and we bring you these world class compressors here in the land of the long white cloud.Our technicians are compressed air equipment experts and are dedicated to addressing customer needs. Supported by a 13 locations nationwide, Ash Air offers one of the widest selections of compressed air equipment and parts available today in New Zealand.

Reliability and Efficiency

With Ash Air compressors, you can count on reliability and high performance for even the most demanding applications. We focus our efforts on the following:

  • Increasing uptime
  • Reducing unexpected repairs
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Improving the cleanliness of compressed air

Talk to the team today:  CONTACT US CONTACT US

Read more from our #expertcorner