Paws and pipes: Dogs hunt down leaks in heat networks

Vattenfall is investigating the use of sniffer dogs to unearth water leaks in their underground district heating pipes

Dogs that are trained to sniff out leaks?

Swedish energy company Vattenfall is trying something new to find water leaks in its underground heating pipes in The Netherlands.

A Netherlands-based company with expertise in training dogs for detection played a pivotal role in assisting Vattenfall in bringing its concept to fruition.

During training, the dogs were exposed to scents associated with demineralised water and polyurethane.

Demineralised water emanates from heating pipe leaks, while the intrusion of water from outside into the pipe’s insulated polyurethane jacket produces a detectable polyurethane scent.

Presently, three dogs have undergone specialised training.

Mark Spithorst Piping Technical Specialist at Vattenfall, said: “Normally, we locate leaks by aiming a thermal imaging camera at the ground and at homes.

“Of course, residents often react to this and wonder what we are doing pointing a camera at their house. We get the same when we are tracking leaks with the dogs, but the residents are usually enthusiastic, and interested in what we are doing.”

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