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Discuss Underfloor heating fault ! Need tracker / tracer not TDR ?? in the Electrical Tools and Products area at ElectrciansForums.co.uk.

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  1. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    As above I need to track down a fault on underfloor heating electric mat or loose cable system as to get a guy to come and find fault area from u.k. is around £2,000 apparently and repair etc.. I'm almost certain that it's going to be a joint on the cold tails but any kit that could be used to locate the area advice wise would be great. Thought TDR but that won't really be the item for a short distance etc.. and only have a good mft, multimeters, oscillators etc.. apparently there is some instrument that pumps 1KV down and a sound sensor that can be used to hear the arcing where the fault is ?
    Any ideas appreciated as voltage present but no current draw or continuity. Thanks.
     
  2. Richard Burns
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    Richard Burns Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    Business Name:
    Richard Burns
    Depending on how deep the mat is then a cheap and cheerful tone tracer should work, attach the tone generator to the core and run the tracer along the cable route until the tone cannot be picked up, approximately there is your fault.
    However the cheap (£20) ones only trace to about 2-3cm deep.
     
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  3. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    Thanks Richard, I have a rather expensive set from teaching fibre installs and copper comms while working for Jersey Telecoms a while back but not sure if will go far enough as this is apparently quite deep into screed. Nexans solid core cables.
     
  4. Richard Burns
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    Richard Burns Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    Business Name:
    Richard Burns
    OK mains power signal tracers/ fuse finders again not very deep but deeper than the battery ones.
    otherwise you are on CAT and genny scanning, which seems a little OTT for underfloor heating but cheaper than £2000.
     
  5. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    Ok sound, used to use Cat and Genny on the fibre installs to check u/g cabling routes etc.. for the civils to dig. Apparently this guy from mainland has a tool to locate right down to an area size of a 10p piece but I've never heard of such a thing.
     
  6. PEG
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    PEG Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Manchester
    Hi bud,have you IR tested the heating wire,at different voltages,to determine the ease of this arcing?
    If you generated this arc,at a known frequency,he may be detecting this.
    Or you could "clear" this,with some HV shananagins,and have it live,one side...but it's starting to get a bit shady ;)

    What makes you suspect the cold tails?
     
  7. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    Neighbour had a big flood and another company was called in on the insurance to sort it and apparently neighbour told my friend today that the joint against the wall where black tubing was and jointed with a squeezy tool into like barrel looking connectors fixed his ! I'm guessing it was crimped as spark told him it was badly corroded and breaking there.

    I did IR at 250 and 500V and was low. No arcing just apparently a tool / instrument the repair companies have but I can't seem to find much online for sale..
     
  8. PEG
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    PEG Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Manchester
    There are always ways,and means :)

    Not a time or place for trade secrets (not that anyone cares;))

    Google up the standard loop tests,messrs Blavier,Varley,Murray and Fisher.

    It may give you an idea:)
     
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  9. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    Thanks bud, confused now though :)
     
  10. PEG
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    PEG Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Manchester
    This is an issue,like genital warts. Nobody admits it's a problem,and if you find a way of dealing with it,you keep it to yourself;)

    A call to a couple of manufacturers,on repairing their product,will give you an idea of the variation,of the task that dare not speak it's name...

    So,NO recommendations,as to a method,due to variety of elements,faults,and liabilities...but...

    A HV spark generator,say,off an old diesel hot-washer,can instigate an arc which a small,AM radio antennae can find...i hear.

    Prolonged HV arcing,may clear any link,across the fault,which could allow one side only,to carry line voltage,which may be detected,with an adjustable volt-finder...maybe...

    The bottom line,as always,is time,and money. In the opposite order.

    It can be cheaper,to just plumb in a new radiator :cool:
     
  11. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

    Soulsurfer - this idea is tentative and you would need to co-opt some electronics and computer hobbyists to work up a prototype and do some experiments. Do you have such a club nearby? They may do it for the challenge it presents rather than payment and all you would have to fork out for are some simple components.

    Broadly speaking the idea is to listen for an arc at the break in the heating cable - the arc being created and repeated at a rapid rate by a spark generator.

    So the first step is to make a spark generator and cobble together a transducer and amplifier and oscilloscope. The transducer needs to be lightly glued to the floor above the heating cable. Is it possible to hear/see the signal on the scope caused by the arc?

    Next, take 4 such transducers and make an amplitude monopulse receiver - this enables up/down and left/right with respect to the centre to be indicated by difference and sum signals. see:

    monopulse antenna - Google pretraga - https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=monopulse+antenna&tbm=isch&source=iu&pf=m&ictx=1&fir=fkCNCzFqXTSeFM%253A%252CdDJ00sUfmC5c0M%252C_&usg=__kqlIkdJxNgAFndizbKeCK3orhfM%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjInPj4r77XAhUIfRoKHch2DK0Q9QEISzAH#imgrc=fkCNCzFqXTSeFM:

    What you now need is some sort of visual display like a C scope in radar:

    [​IMG]

    to display the two difference signals - this is were the computer guys/gals do some work.

    If this came together and worked you could locate the sound of the arc - it would of course be when the 4 transducer array has been placed centrally over the point of arcing because then the two difference signals are smallest/zero and the sum signal is largest.

    These are the transducers I thought you might try or something similar:

    stick on transducers | Rapid Online - https://www.rapidonline.com/catalogue/search?Query=stick%20on%20transducers&Tier=Ultrasonic%20Sensors

    This paper helps you understand the frequency range of an spark:

    https://www.acoustics-engineering.com/files/SPARK TRAIN MEASUREMENTS.pdf
     
  12. telectrix
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    telectrix Scouser and Proud of It Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    cheshire/staffordshire
    Business Name:
    Telectrix
    or shove 11kV down it and see where the floor bulges.
     
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  13. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member




    [​IMG]
     
  14. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

    Telectrix prompted me to think again about a simpler scheme.

    What about doing what Telectrix said, make a 'decent' spark generator to produce a repeating audibly loud spark and then use a doctor's stethoscope to listen through the floor for the arc/spark? Painstaking, prone work might pay off in localising to an area if not a point. Cheaper, quicker and easier to try out than what I cobbled together in my mind earlier.

    Sparker from: car battery, ignition coil, interrupter, HV leads and croc' clips?

    or

    Gas hob igniter?

    We will cause this the TeleMarc method and patent it to become millionaires.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 5:23 PM
  15. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    So basically a coil some kind of switch that can handle hv generated like a set of points and croc clip onto the mat tails ?
     
  16. telectrix
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    telectrix Scouser and Proud of It Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    cheshire/staffordshire
    Business Name:
    Telectrix
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    What about PCE-CL 20 ? 2 mtrs in soil or walls
    50cm in concrete. That should find it no ? £200 for transmitter and receiver unit
     
  18. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

    I read and watched the short video on the machine. It certainly looks neat and inexpensive. I would call the company or seller because in the technical detail it only says it can find continuous cables/wires or short circuits, See under the highlights tab-

    - Locates hidden cables, wires or pipes
    - Helps identify short circuits and fuses


    whereas your problem is a break in one of the live conductors or a break in/off the heating cable.

    You want to find out how the receiver will react as it crosses from one side of the fault to the other.

    You also want to know if it has a narrow enough receiving beam not to be confused by signals in the close adjacent parallel lines of the weaved heating element array.

    You might want to start a new thread which ask if anyone in the forum has ever used one, specifically to find your or a similar sort of problem.

    Please let us know what you find out and how you end up solving this problem.
     
  19. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

    Yes, an old engine car ignition system with the HV side used to energise the underfloor heating element. I think though that the gas hob igniter is a better ready made sparker;

    https://www.wowbbq.co.uk/product/we...MItIjm64PA1wIVCijTCh2CHgcZEAQYASABEgJkAvD_BwE

    Stoves Spark Generator - Ignition Unit - https://www.buyspares.co.uk/product.pl?pid=2968966&utm_source=google&utm_medium=base&utm_campaign=products&mkwid=sQg9o1O59&pcrid=166155664440&kword=&match=&plid=&pdv=c&gclid=EAIaIQobChMItIjm64PA1wIVCijTCh2CHgcZEAQYHCABEgJLvvD_BwE

    Howden Lamona Hob Ignition Unit / Spark Generator 082638976 - https://www.inter-spares.co.uk/howden/howden-lamona-hob-spare-parts/lam1001/ignition-unit-spark-generator-1-2-3-4.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMItIjm64PA1wIVCijTCh2CHgcZEAQYHSABEgJ2s_D_BwE

    You can also try the off station AM radio to search and listen for under floor spark.

    Don't underestimate the power and sensitivity of the ears and brain to locate something - provided you have good hearing in the first place.

    You may need a combination or sequence of methods to search and then localise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 7:22 AM
  20. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

  21. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

    What you also need to do, whatever search tool you use, is use some form of visual integration and correlation to create a cluster or clusters of detections on the floor surface - you may have more than one fault.

    To do this you will need some different coloured sticky dots/labels, and then to co-opt friend and family to each have a go at finding the fault/faults using the various search tools.

    After a number of folk have had a go with one or more of the tools, you will either see a random arrangement of dots/labels all over the floor because no tool is any good, or hopefully some clustering where different tools and different people are jointly agreeing on a locality.
     
  22. SWD
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    SWD Gender neutral Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    London
    Rip the tiles up lay new mat and then tiles and the jobs a coloured root vegetable........
     
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  23. telectrix
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    telectrix Scouser and Proud of It Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    cheshire/staffordshire
    Business Name:
    Telectrix
    a beetroot?
     
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  24. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    Have spoken to the chaps at PCE instruments and they think it would definitely work to find the break and can be used dead or live with 240V no problems, I also have two new volt sticks and various other toys to try, spoke also to a woman named Vicky at Underfloor heating services who has guys going out over u.k. fixing faulty ufh but she said any arc device would blow the cables apart ! and only advice from her was take up and fit new mat as it's getting to a point where the faults could keep coming. Thanks all anyway. As far as car style arc etc.. how could you keep the sparks coming ? would it require some kind of automatic repetitive switching magic ? Thanks for all the help.
     
  25. marconi
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    marconi Regular EF Member

    With regard to HV arcs causing damage - it depends on the impedance of the HV sparker. The ones based on a car ignition system or gas hob igniter have an impedance such that they cannot deliver enough energy to cause damage. What I think Telectrix had in mind - 11kV from the local supply company is another kettle of fish! I would use either method on my own ufh electric heating if I had it. The reason being that the domestic mains already has much lower impedance sources of high voltage electricity superimposed on the 230Vac.

    If it was me I'd use a gas hob sparker. To use the car ignition coil method, buy a 12 Volt 10Amp Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT) relay - wire the ignition coil in series with one of the the Normally closed contacts and bridge these contacts with a 'condenser'
    - Points & Condenser for Lucas 25D 23D 22D 4 & 6 cyl distributor - condensor | eBay - https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/132220164991?chn=ps&dispctrl=1&adgroupid=43106429403&rlsatarget=pla-381255986833&abcId=1128926&adtype=pla&merchantid=7449114&poi=&googleloc=9044962&device=c&campaignid=857233083&crdt=0

    Wire the relay coil in series with the 12V supply and the other set of Normally closed contacts.

    Do respect the HV output from the ignition coil.

    Again, if it was me I'd be employing integration and correlation as I mentioned earlier.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017 at 12:20 AM
  26. static zap
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    static zap Regular EF Member

    Location:
    west midlands
    Do you have photos of layout , so if you knew a distance from the end it would be any use ?
    ( are these mats ,a heating element in a conductive tube ?)
    ..I'm thinking compare capaitances at ends ..
    Screen-to-element , If no shorts / dampness leakage
     
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  27. Soulsurfer
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    Soulsurfer Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Channel Islands
    I don't have photos or layout as such as I'm going looking into it for a friend and client in a way but just know its nexan cable solid core type cable not sure if comes as a mat or separately but is apparently fitted into the screed. An only guess / estimate full length of the mat really.
     
  28. static zap
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    static zap Regular EF Member

    Location:
    west midlands
    (mine is more theory -used as an alt to TDR in cables)
    ..Must Google Nexan my self !
     
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