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The H2O Southern Galactic Plane Survey (HOPS) has observed 100 deg2 of the Galactic plane, using the Mopra radio telescope to search for emission from multiple spectral lines in the 12-mm band (19.5–27.5 GHz). Perhaps the most important of these spectral lines is the 22.2-GHz water-maser transition. We describe the methods used to identify water-maser candidates and subsequent confirmation of the sources. Our methods involve a simple determination of likely candidates by searching peak emission maps, utilising the intrinsic nature of water-maser emission, spatially unresolved and spectrally narrow-lined. We estimate completeness limits and compare our method with results from the duchamp source finder. We find that the two methods perform similarly. We conclude that the similarity in performance is due to the intrinsic limitation of the noise characteristics of the data. The advantages of our method are that it is slightly more efficient in eliminating spurious detections and is simple to implement. The disadvantage is that it is a manual method of finding sources and so is not practical on datasets much larger than HOPS, or for datasets with extended emission that needs to be characterised. We outline a two-stage method for the most efficient means of finding masers, using duchamp.