Mapping heating system

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by bmccabe, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. bmccabe

    bmccabe New Member

    I rehab houses in some marginal neighborhoods. Recently, some copper was stolen from a multi-family house...basically the connections to side-by-sidef furnaces. I have to determine from what little copper there is remaining in the basement, which pipes go to which furnaces and which apartments. Here's something I am considering and invite comment. You know, something like "good idea" or "you're nuts!"

    I'm thinking of putting an electrical charge into the stubs of copper sticking out of the basement ceiling and seeing if I can pick up the current with a voltmeter in the matching apartment.

    What do you think?
  2. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    What about air and water?

    Putting air to a line would first help identify its return, then either hot or cold water could be felt on the other end.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
  4. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Jokes aside - if you used a battery, ran just 2 or 3 volts? It'd show up on a tester. Have to ground the other lead, but that's not hard, just wrap a wire around a supply pipe in the apartment, walk around with it as you check the rads...

    The only real problem I can think of, is if those pipes are touching others, somewhere in a wall, you'll get false positives.

    Pretty clever, actually.

    If you didn't mean with a battery, and were thinking of using a receptacle, or something... then yeah, you need to go commit yourself.
  5. bmccabe

    bmccabe New Member

    Pioneers are often misunderstood...

    My wife and kids think I'm nuts, too. Frenchie, I would be using low voltage so there would be no risk.

    This idea, incidentally, comes from the electrician's trade. The idea is to run low voltage current through electical lines in order to map the system. It requires a very sensitive voltmeter and can save enormous amount of time trying to plot out a replacement and repair strategy for derelict houses. Using it with exposed pipe should even be easier.

    Thanks to all...
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Unless your time is very cheap, I would contact a professional pipe locatorl. They have the equipment and expertise to do the tracing much faster than any makeshift procedure.
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