Frequently Asked Questions About 'Bubble Levels'

What are bubble levels?

Bubble levels, also known as spirit levels, are tools used for dimensional measurement. They consist of a sealed glass or acrylic tube containing a liquid, usually alcohol, and an air bubble. The bubble moves to the highest point in the tube, indicating whether a surface is level or plumb.

What are the common uses of bubble levels?

Bubble levels have a variety of uses:

  • In construction, they are used to ensure that surfaces are level or plumb. They can be used for tasks such as installing shelves, hanging pictures, and laying flooring.
  • In surveying, they are used to determine the height of objects relative to a reference point. They can also be used to measure the slope of the ground.
  • In RV leveling, they are a simple and effective way to level an RV. They can be placed on the floor or exterior of the RV to ensure that it is level.

How do you use a bubble level?

Here are the steps to use a bubble level:

  1. Place the level on the surface of the object for which you want to find the true horizontal (the “horizon”). Make sure the spirit tube runs parallel to the object. Allow the bubble to float to the top of the spirit tube.
  2. Put your eyes at level with the spirit tube. In order to get an accurate reading, close one eye.
  3. Take note of where the bubble is inside the spirit tube. If it's centered between the lines on the tube, your object is level. If the bubble is to the right of the lines, your object slopes downward right-to-left. If the bubble is to the left of the lines, your object slopes downward left-to-right.
  4. To find the true vertical or "plumb," repeat the same process vertically.

How do you check the accuracy of a bubble level?

To check a bubble level for accuracy, follow these steps:

  1. Place the level on a flat surface.
  2. Make one mark at the end of the level.
  3. Make another mark along the side of the level, under the vial in the center.
  4. Take a reading of the bubble's position.
  5. Rotate the level 180° end-to-end and align the bubble with the same mark you made in step 2.
  6. Take another reading of the bubble's position. If the bubble is in the same position as before, the level is accurate. If it's not, the level needs to be adjusted.

What are the different types of bubble levels used in construction?

There are several types of bubble levels used in construction:

  • Carpenter's Level: Two-foot levels consisting of a wooden body and one or more bubble tubes are generally called carpenter's level.
  • I-Beam Level: These types of levels typically range from 6" to 12" and can have a 45° vial in addition to plumb and square vials.
  • Pocket Level: Pocket levels are small and compact, making them easy to carry around in a pocket or tool belt. They are typically used for quick measurements and small jobs.

How accurate are bubble levels?

The accuracy of a bubble level depends on various factors, including the sensitivity of the level and the quality of the liquid container, bubble size, and liquid type. The best bubble levels can be accurate to within plus or minus 0.5 millimeters/meter, or 0.005 inches/inch or .029 degrees.

For high-precision applications, more accurate measurement devices may be necessary.

Why would professionals choose bubble levels over digital alternatives?

Professionals may prefer to rely on bubble levels for several reasons:

  • Practical and inexpensive to use for monitoring liquid level, density, or interface level in an open tank.
  • Can be used to check levels in hard-to-reach areas where longer bubble levels do not fit.
  • Can be used to check the accuracy of longer levels.
  • Some models have high measuring accuracy and sensitivity.

However, please note that digital alternatives may offer higher precision in situations where accuracy is a top priority.

What precautions should be taken when using bubble levels?

When using bubble levels, please consider the following precautions:

  • Take note of where the bubble is inside the spirit tube to determine if the object is level or plumb.
  • Make sure to repeat the same process vertically to find the true vertical or "plumb".
  • When checking the accuracy of a bubble level, place it on a flat surface and make marks to compare the bubble's position.
  • Be aware that temperature changes can affect the accuracy of bubble levels.
  • Keep bubble levels clean from concrete, mortar, or mud by using a wet towel.
  • If a spirit level is damaged and fluid is spilled, wear protective gear.

Looking for a bubble level?

Choosing a bubble level can be very difficult if you know nothing about them.

So I created this quick, newbie guide to help you:

The best 'Bubble Level' and how to choose one for you

Links and references

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