What is the recommended method for testing 3/8 copper oil feed lines for an
oil furnace for leaks? Pressure or vacuum? Is there a life expectancy for
copper that is buried in the ground or possibly in concrete? These lines run
under the concrete basement floor, so before I replace them I want to test
them. They are about 50 years old and have been working as far as I know.
Burying fuel pipes come under the heading of very bad ideas.
You can test it using the fuel.
Providing the valves are tight and there is positive pressure on the line
just attach a pressure gauge and close the fuel line valves, I assume there
is one at each end. You first need to drop the pressure in the line and
watch the pressure does not rise. This checks that the valves are not
passing. Then let the pressure up by opening a valve and then closing it.
Check then that the pressure does not fall indicating a leak.
The objectof the above is to ensure that faulty valve (passing) does not
more than offset a leak. ie fuel is leaking in quicker than it's leaking
But he only way to be sure is visual inspection. Maybe best to abandon the
line & put in new (but not buried)
Concrete being alkaline is metal friendly. (Earth might not be). The problem
tends to arise where the pipe goes into the concrete when strange things
If you must bury it, install it in a plastic duct so the pipe can be pulled
out for renewal. Plastic covered copper is available over here (UK) too for
hostile environments. I expect you have it over there too.
These days you run it above ground. Over many years, some copper lines have
pin-holed. This is true of oil lines and baseboard heating lines. I'd use
pressure to test it, but there may be other methods.
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