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Thread: Gas line safety

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    10

    Default Gas line safety

    First off, let me say this is my first old house and first time ever with a home that had natural gas. Gas powers the oven, furnace and dryer. Oh, and I'm pretty neurotic. (I'm finding this is not a good combo and maybe I should have sprung for one of those brand new, mini-McMansions in the 'burbs.) Anyway...

    When i had the home inspection done, he checked all of the visible gas connections and pipe fittings in the basement and behind appliances and found one tiny leak at a fitting. I was told that, for a 100 year old home, this was pretty good that there was only one leak at a sale inspection. (not sure if this is true???) The leak has since been repaired.

    Here's where my neurotic side kicks in. No one that was in that basement smelled the gas leak, so how will I know if another one pops up? Should I have a regular check of all the gas lines? Is there someone I can that does this sort of thing? Who would that be? The plumber that came to fix the gas leak brought a bottle of soapy water instead of an electronic detection device...not impressed.

    I tried the soapy water thing myself and just had foam everywhere....I overshot some pipes, hit some wood and even the wood was foaming. Obviously I did something wrong but, frankly, with this type of safety issue, I'd rather not be a DIYer.

    What's the safety protocol for maintenance of gas pipes and appliances?

    thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,385

    Default Re: Gas line safety

    You can buy a small container of gas leak detector made by Black Swan (less than $10).
    The gas company uses electronic detectors, but they may not be available for purchase in your area.
    Plumbers have been using the old soap solution for generations with surprising accuracy.

    Generally, rigid gas lines are reliable. The flex connectors are less reliable. They should be kink free. Check them often and replace them as needed. Also check the shut of valves for smooth operation.

    Natural gas has a smell added to it by the gas company and if you smell gas, you need to call them. They may help or refer you to a plumber.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    295

    Default Re: Gas line safety

    Quote Originally Posted by orangeena View Post
    What's the safety protocol for maintenance of gas pipes
    Don't mess with them. If you smell gas shut off your main and call a plumber, the gas company or both.


    Quote Originally Posted by orangeena View Post
    What's the safety protocol for maintenance of gas appliances
    Follow the owner's manual. Know where the shut-offs are and use them if you are moving the appliances for any reason.
    It's this old house, not this built after your dad was born house.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    New London County, CT
    Posts
    118

    Default Re: Gas line safety

    I have a 1960's house and a 1982 RV that both use propane and I am ultra careful with both homes. I keep in my tool kit a squeeze bottle of soapy water with a chip brush to spread it if needed. I also have an electronic detector.

    As mentioned be aware, know how to shutoff supply and appliances and check for leaks. If you have any of the yellow CSST pipe be sure it is properly bonded to ground.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,942

    Default Re: Gas line safety

    You're using the soapy water wrong. It get applied in a gentle stream from a squeeze bottle like mustard, not like window cleaner.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Gas line safety

    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonRemodeler View Post
    You're using the soapy water wrong. It get applied in a gentle stream from a squeeze bottle like mustard, not like window cleaner.
    Aha! thank you. I never thought of that. I was using a spray bottle...of course that foams upon spraying.

    I guess my primary concern is that there was a leak that no one could smell. No, it's not going to ignite the house if it's so small it can't be smelled, but it's not healthy to be breathing it either...plus I'd rather catch a small leak before it becomes a big concern. But, yes, pipes are pretty stable. Water pipes aren't dripping out of the fittings all over....

    I'll try an old squeeze bottle next time and maybe do some spot checks once in a while to keep my neurosis in check. lol

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Montreal Canada
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Gas line safety

    I am a plummer with my gas license for 30 years. If you want to be absolutely 100% safe. the do the following.
    Hired a plummer with a gas license and have him pressure test all the piping. What this entails is disconnecting all the gas fixture and capping all the lines.Then connecting a air compressor with a pressure gauge and isolating valve. Start up the air compressor until 60 lbs is reached then close the valve. If there are any leaks the pressure will drop and the plummer will fix them . In the trade we were allowed a 10% drop in 4 hours. BTW the pressure in the pipe when operating is about half a pound so you are testing to 120 actual operating pressures. If you do this you are guarantee no leaks

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