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Gas leaks


My sister, whose home was 50% destroyed by Rita, got a new FEMA travel trailer delivered & set up just the other day. She called the next (freezing cold) day to ask "how long should a 7.5 gal propane tank last"? because one was empty already. She thought she'd been given a partially filled tank. That's not allowed in these parts, so I told here to shut them both off & I'll be right there.

35 miles, & 35 minutes later, the air was blue with language which shocked my sister.

ALL six high pressure fittings on the tanks & hoses leading to the changeover valve & regulator, and the low pressure hose fitting out of the reg' leading to the interior, were not even FINGER TIGHT!!!! they freely swiveled, they never saw a wrench. I was absolutely furious.

Even before my rant ended she was on the phone to the FEMA contractor. I am so glad I was not the poor guy on the other end of THAT phone line.

If that weren't bad enough, the 12V battery sitting right below the tanks had crimp connections which looked like they were done with channel-locks, and the wing-nuts were loose to boot.....arcing!!!!! sparks!!!! propane in the vicinity!!!!!

Lake Arthur Butane is my supplier, and always will be. Their techs don't consider themselves delivery drivers, they ARE techs. They check & test EVERY fitting, appliance & reg' at refill time...no charge, a class company.

David, the service manager even loaned me his own test equipment when mine was acting up while setting up a big Takagi. This is an account he didn't even service. That account is his now :O)

It's not about money, he says, it's about a sincere desire to keep ALL people above ground & breathing.

That's my Sunday morning rant, I feel better now and my sister is still above ground :)

Brian, in 59* Swampland.


  • Ray Landry_2
    Ray Landry_2 Member Posts: 114

    So far this year I've been on two red tag calls where the gas co went out on a call for h/o smelling gas, found leaks, and locked out the meter. I have no problem with this at all, today especially I firmly believe it saved a three story apt building from being a rocketship. I pumped the lines in the building up to three pounds and w/in 30 seconds it had lost all pressure. Too many leaks to count, between packing glands on gas cocks, non-beaded fittings, hand tightened iron pipe, scarey really. I think from now on whenever I enter a house that hsa natural gas piping that is 10 years or older, I am going to firmly reccomend a air pressure test of the lines whether they smell gas or not. Just curious if that is standard operating procedure for you guys or if you only persure leak testing if it becames an obvious issue.
  • Rodney Summers
    Rodney Summers Member Posts: 748

    i have a three story apt building that had a bad gas leak i had to replace the hole gas line luckily it was the 2nd floor. leak becuase old gas light pipes still conected look out for that on 100 + year old bldgs. j.h.
  • Brad White_36
    Brad White_36 Member Posts: 30
    I had a plumber work on my house

    installing a washer-dryer hookup and a gas log stove. I asked him how much pressure he used to test the piping. He said "5 inches". He meant gas pressure off the street. When I pressed him he repeated the answer.

    The night he did the rough-in, I smelled gas on the second floor in the laundry room so I shut off the gascock for that branch. Called the plumber who insisted that there was no leak. Sure enough he had hand-tightened the last nipple without thread dope....

    Notice I said "had a plumber" in the past-tense.

    Had he done an air test (or if I had the eggs to insist) it would have been found. Had I not been home I may have been home-less...

    Your story does much to remind me and others of the potential. Thanks!
  • terry_5
    terry_5 Member Posts: 92
    gas leaks

    I work on gas only,very rarely do I find large leaks!Yeah I find pilot tubing leaking and an occasional gas cock but nothing very dangerous.
  • Terry_14
    Terry_14 Member Posts: 209
    This terry works on all fuels

    2 of us on the wall with the same name and similar service experiances.

    Rairly do I find major leaks, that said "No price can be placed on Life" I have presure tested when necessary and do not rely on bubbles only. A good Gas sniffer goes to each job.

  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    > I work on gas only,very rarely do I find large

    > leaks!Yeah I find pilot tubing leaking and an

    > occasional gas cock but nothing very dangerous.

    I invested in a Tiff 8800 combustible gas detector, and just today as part of a routine clean & check service, I found a micro leak at a waterheater...improperly installed gas-tight fitting. Could barely smell it with my nose right on it, but the detector found it real quick. I suggested an air test, but " I never smell anything..."

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    I invested in a Tiff 8800 combustible gas detector, and just today as part of a routine clean & check service, I found a micro leak at a waterheater...improperly installed gas-tight fitting. Could barely smell it with my nose right on it, but the detector found it real quick. I suggested an air test, but " I never smell anything..."

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    I work

    I work for a propane delivery company. We service roughly 5000 accounts and do pressure test's on every account we can. If a system run's out for any reason, if an annual service is done or if excessive usage is noted we will dispatch a tech and have a pressure test done. In alot of cases this is done for free if needed just to be safe. ANY leak on any type of gas system is dangerous and should be dealt with immediatly.
  • Boilerpro_3
    Boilerpro_3 Member Posts: 1,231
    You're one of a kind...

    if you serviced my area.
    They just drop the tank, hook up the lines turn on the gas and watch the gage to see if it drops. No supply pressure test, regulator test or anything, even when they say they do. Out of the 8 new installs done recently, only one regulator was properly adjusted, one had grossly undersized supply line (3/4 inch copper serving about 2 million btu running about 200 feet from the four tanks), another had a defective regulator that supplied anywhere from 18 to 25 inches of gas pressure, another had a cut seal that allowed the pressure to gradually rise when there was no load, and another had an undersized regulator. The propane companies around here don't check anything, even when installing new.

  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    Sounds like

    Boilerpro, sound's like your in an area that needs a wake up call. My company just recently purchase electronic pressure guages to make testing more accurate. We also have all equipment calabrated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy. I wish I could say it was alway's this way but they have learned from past mistakes. We document each and every start up and test to include flow and lock up. If we do come across undersized line's or unsafe equipment it is red tagged and the equipment is removed from service until it can be made safe.
    Is the system we have perfect, no, it is only as good as the person doing it. But it is the best we have come up with so far. If someone shortcut's anything and it is found out he has to answer for it. The boss doesn't take to it to well...
    Then again I also pay close attention's to more experienced people and heed their warning's on issue's. Thanks to people like Tim McElwain I have learned a lot and still have lot's to learn!!
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 988
    Gas leak testing

    We all collectively need to do a better job of leak testing. However, I'd like to remind you of a few pitfalls.

    The gas codes call for 3 psi or 10x the max working pressure. Yet new homes are often tested at 40+ psi!! What's the problem with this? Most all gas controls are rated for 1/2 psi max. Our mfr. states to disconnect the line if testing above this level. So, what is the rating of your typical gas cock? For Dormont, it is 5 psi. How about CSST? 5 psi.

    By pressurizing lines, you could be Causing a subsequent leak if not done properly. Just cap off all appliances first. The Gas Check Program is a good protocol to follow. Recently, it survived another assault in court so it is Not a required standard in the industry..........yet.

    Remember when using a sniffer on LP to search at the floor level. Remember the odorant can fade or be masked and roughly 15% of the population are not sensitive to the odor. The size of the leak determines the type of soap bubble soln. used. A larger leak can blow away a thin film before you can see the bubble while a tiny nuisance leak can take a long time depending upon whether you've used a high viscosity soln. or a thin film type.

    The TIFF 8800a is sensitive to methane at 500 ppm. While that was ok back in the day, a Bacharach or most other brands are sensitive to around 20 ppm methane and propane.

    The human nose can sense mercaptans to about 0.3 parts per billion. In the quantities it is mixed with NG and LP, that equates to about 2-3 ppm of fugitive gas.

    Old leaky houses may not manifest a leak of some size while modern tight houses will hold those micro leaks for them to smell.

    Aside from the obvious insanity of using an open flame to test for leaks, this method is useless at levels below the flammability limits. If you have a leak less than 44,000 ppm NG or 21,500 LP, it will not ignite. Every plumber I've ever watched used a flame. Why? Many HVAC contractors do use an electronic sniffer of some sort.

    Use only non-corrosive soap bubble test solutions. Chloride ions in regular detergents can cause stress cracking. Rinse well. Never soap over the vent on a regultor. Use a sniffer, ultra sonic detector, or chemical smoke puffer to find the leak. A steady leak at the appliance regulator vent could mean the system was over pressurized and blew the diaphragm. Ditto for MP regulators. If there is a vent line on the reg. check it for steady leaking.

  • bovide_4
    bovide_4 Member Posts: 161

    that was a good post, but my patience is being tested by plumbers being portrayed as mindless oafs. I have been a plumber for quite a while, use a gas sniffer, and have never checked for leaks with a flame. I can't think of anyone in my association who would either. Who are the "plumbers" you have been dealing with?
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 988

    Sorry, not meaning to slight you. I just wanted to point out that inspite of all the trade school training and years of experience, even a highly trained trade can be pigeon-holed into a stereotype. I've seen other trades and professions bashed on this and related sites. I think you would share my thoughts that alot of the "less than optimum" practices would go away if everyone regularly attened shows, read journals, surfed websites such as this one and spoke face to face with allied professions.

    There is not a trade or profession out there that cannot be bashed based on a few misguided souls.

    I will say most guys who post on these websites speak well and lend a positive image to their trades. We all just need to find a way to harness that positive energy and move fwd.

    Again, I apologize if I offended anyone.
  • bovide_4
    bovide_4 Member Posts: 161

    No offense taken. I am just a new father of twins with bags under his eyes from lack of sleep.
This discussion has been closed.