Should air test or water tests be selected to test the leakage of constructed gravity pipelines?
For gravity pipes, air tests or water tests are carried out after completion of laying and jointing of the pipes. These tests are conducted to check the watertightness of joints and to ensure the pipelines are free from damage where leakage may occur.
Air test has the advantage that the test itself is simple and faster to be carried out. It does not require the disposal of significant quantities of water used in the test which is a mandatory requirement for water test. However, in case leakage exists in the constructed segment of gravity pipelines, the position of leakage can hardly be located in air test. Moreover, the rate of water leakage cannot be determined from air tests. In addition, air test is readily affected by atmospheric condition because air has a relatively high coefficient of thermal expansion. The test is also influenced by the moisture condition of the test pipelines because it affects the passage of air through the pipelines.
For water test, though it is comparatively slow, it can detect the location of water leakage. However, the leakage rate results from water test may not truly reflect its actual leakage because pipeline materials like concrete and clay are porous and would absorb water during the test.