Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Gas Leaks and Keeping Your Home Safe

March 30th, 2013 7:59 PM by Dan Howard

Gas leaks are not usually caused by neglect or abuse, they are most often from normal wear and aging. Think about how bone joints become worn in people and then you have an understanding of both what happens to gas line “joints.”

            You could have gas leaks lurking in your home and never know it. Mother Nature helps to disguise gas leak problems. People who live beside train tracks do not notice the trains. Human beings learn to filter the recognition of background information. A small gas leak increasing over time to a large leak may not be noticed.

             Many furnace servicepersons, plumbers and home inspectors carry effective electronic equipment to detect gas. The gas utility serving your home will check leaks for free. The down side to this “free service” is that the gas company is obligated to turn off the gas to the areas that leak. You are still then left with  paying for a professional to come to your  home to repair the leak

            The most convenient method to deal with gas leaks is to discover them when they are minor. Have them repaired by a qualified professional when gas service is not a high priority. Gas repairs done on an “emergency basis” are usually more costly such as during a furnace checkup before heating season.

       Gas leaks naturally occur with aging of the home. The sealant used in the gas lines wears out and leaks result. Valves can leak due to age or improper original installation. 

           Lines that leak should not be repaired by resealing only the leaking joints or fittings. The sealant that is breaking down due to age will continue to fail in other joints.

            The most effective way to repair leaks in old gas lines is to dismantle the pipe around the leak. The professional should then clean all pipe and fittings. Any corroded pieces should be replaced. The lines that are going to areas now not needing gas should be eliminated, sealed or capped. The fewer the number of fittings, the less the chance for future leaks. The lines should be reassembled with an approved sealant.

            The modern gas detectors can find gas leaks much more efficiently than the soap suds method. If you do not have a gas detector, using bubble bath in a Windex spray bottle is better than not checking for gas leaks. The technique is to spray joints, fittings and control valves. If you see bubbles blowing from the sprayed area, you have discovered a gas leak.

            There are some areas to pay close attention to when checking for leaks. Many gas control units for both hot water tanks  and furnaces leak gas. The tubes that connect  gas from furnace safety control valves to the pilot light areas  often leak. There are seals, diaphragms, and fittings in the valves that leak. A surprising number of hot water tank safety valves leak gas. 

            Old gas appliances often leak. These appliances should be repaired or sold for scrap. There is also the tendency to run gas lines to appliances without installing a gas valve at the appliance. There should be a proper fitting to shut off every gas appliance or pipe in a home.  If a line extends to an area that an appliance has been removed, the last fitting should be sealed or capped. The purpose of the cap is to eliminate the possibility of causing an explosion by accidentally turning on or bumping a gas valve.

            Gas safety is important. Your life can depend on having the services of a conscientious professional

Posted in:General
Posted by Dan Howard on March 30th, 2013 7:59 PM



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