Leak Testing using Smoke Matches

by Mike Johnson

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Leak Testing using Smoke Matches
I had a problem with air leaking from the pressure box when assembled with the supply pipe connected to the reservoir and bellows and couldn't track it down until I thought of using smoke matches. The matches are used by plumbers/heating engineers to test the integrity of heating systems and flues etc.

The matches I used are available from most plumbers merchants or on-line from Amazon or screwfix etc.

Screwfix web address

£2.99 for a box of 75 matches.

I used them in the following manner:

Seal the tracker bar with masking tape ensuring that all holes are sealed.

Stick a smoke match upright in a blob of blu-tack or similar.

Strike the match and after the initial flare carefully but quickly stick it in the bottom of the area where the music roll goes. Close the lid and gently operate the crankshaft to pump air into the pressure box. After a few seconds smoke is forced out of any leaks and can be easily spotted. Any leaks can then be sealed with Silicon sealant or PVA glue etc.

I was a bit wary of using the matches until I tried one in the open. They do flare up like ordinary matches for a second or two, but then calm down and sort of smoulder for about 10 seconds while giving off white smoke. There is not enough heat given off to cause any damage to the pressure box.

I found a couple of small leaks using this method.

Don't use smoke pellets as they will probably fill the workshop/house with quite dense white smoke - doesn't smell nice either!

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