Gas leaks in plumbing can be dangerous since natural gas is flammable. If it comes into contact with any flame or spark, it can cause fire and explosions. For this reason, knowing how to detect and fix gas leaks in plumbing is critical.
But how do you detect and fix gas leaks in the plumbing system? One way to recognize gas leaks is to use a natural gas leak detector or perform a soapy water test. Another detection method is listening for hissing sounds, checking the gas meter, or for dead vegetation. To fix the gas leaks, you can retighten the fittings, patch the leaks, and replace worn-out seals or damaged pipes.
So then, what causes gas leaks in plumbing? Read on to learn everything there is to know about how to check and fix gas leaks in the plumbing inside and outside.
Understanding Gas Leaks in Plumbing and Their Causes
Gas leaks can occur anywhere in your property’s gas pipe system. Below we will look at the common causes of gas leaks.
Worn Out Seals
Gas piping has joints that feature seals to prevent the gas from escaping. Over time, these seals can wear down on the pipes, leading to a loose connection and gas leaks.
If the gas pipes and fittings are not installed properly, this could lead to a gas leak. This happens when you do the job yourself instead of calling a professional you trust to help.
Corroded or Aging Pipes
It is common for gas pipes to corrode over time. This is especially true for older metal plumbing systems. And due to corrosion, the gas lines can slowly develop cracks, allowing gas to escape.
Sometimes, the gas pipes may be hit by a heavy object, leading to fractures and gas leakage. This can happen when digging into the ground and you accidentally hit a gas line.
7 Ways to Detect Gas Leaks in Plumbing:
Gas leaks in plumbing can go undetected for long periods because they can happen slowly. So, here are tips on how to detect and fix gas leaks in plumbing outside or in the house.
1. Pungent Smell
Since natural gas in plumbing systems is odorless, manufacturers usually add an additive to it called mercaptan. This gives the gas a pungent smell like that of sulfur or eggs. So, if you detect a powerful odor of rotten eggs around the house, this is an indication of gas leaks in the plumbing.
2. Listen for a Hissing Sound
Apart from the pungent smell, you can detect gas leaks in the plumbing by listening to hissing noises near the gas lines. Generally, when there is a loose connection in the gas pipes, you may hear a faint hiss or whistle sound.
3. Perform a Soapy Water Test
A soap water test can also help you detect gas leaks in plumbing. Here is how to check for gas leaks with soapy water.
Step 1: Add a teaspoon of dish soap to a cup of water and mix.
Step 2: Brush or spray the soapy water solution onto your gas pipe connections or the areas you suspect the gas is leaking from.
Step 3: If you see bubbles, your plumbing system has a gas leak.
4. Use a Natural Gas Leak Detector
Alternatively, you could use a natural gas detector tool to find the leaks. This is the most effective method. To use the tool:
Step 1: Remove the top cap on the detector tool. It should pop off.
Step 2: Press the power button while away from the suspected gas leak. The tool will go through a 25-second calibration.
Step 3: Once the LED at the bottom of the detector turns green, you can start detecting gas leaks in the plumbing.
Step 4: Place the detector near all the connections of the gas piping, including the valves, reducers, plugs, and unions.
Step 5: The detector will beep for a few seconds once it detects the gas leak.
5. Check the Kitchen Stove
When you turn on your gas stove, the flames should be blue, an indication of complete combustion. However, if you notice the flames are consistently orange or yellow, the gas is not completely burning. This can be an indication of a gas leak in the plumbing.
6. Look at the Gas Meter
To start with, you can shut off all the gas appliances. Then, note the dials’ position and come back after an hour. Check for any movement on the meter. If the dials have moved slightly, you have a gas leak.
Alternatively, you can check the gas meter while all the gas appliances are running. During this time, only the half-foot dial should move slowly as it records the gas flow. However, when there is a gas leak in the plumbing, the dials on the meter usually move faster than usual.
However, you must use a natural gas detector or soapy water solution to detect the exact place where the gas leak is.
Check out this video to understand better how to detect a gas leak by looking at the gas meter:
7. Dead Vegetation
Sometimes, gas leaks may occur in the plumbing outside the house. In this case, knowing how to detect a gas leak underground is critical. And the easiest way to do it is by looking for dead vegetation in a particular spot. This is because natural gas prevents the plant’s roots from absorbing oxygen, leading to stunted growth.
Fix Gas Leaks in Plumbing: 4 Proven Methods
Fixing gas leaks in plumbing is a job best left to the plumbers or gas company professionals. So, once you detect the gas leaks, you should shut off the gas immediately in the gas meter and call a professional.
However, depending on the cause of the leak, you can fix it yourself. Below is how to do it:
1. Tighten the Fittings
If you detect a gas leak near a connection or pipe, you can try tightening the fitting slightly using a wrench. This is because sometimes the leak can be due to an improperly tightened fitting.
2. Replace Seals or Fittings
If the gas leak does not stop after retightening the fitting, the best solution would be to replace the seals and fittings. However, this is only if there is visible damage or wear on the fittings. Also, you should replace the seals if your plumbing system is old.
However, only a licensed professional should replace the fittings. This is to avoid improper installation, which could lead to further gas leaks.
3. Patch the Leak
Sometimes, gas may leak in plumbing systems due to a small crack or hole in the pipe. In this case, you can seal the hole with epoxy resin to fix the leak. Here is how to do it:
Step 1: Turn off the gas supply at the meter.
Step 2: Clean the area around the leak with water and dry it.
Step 3: Apply the epoxy on the hole to seal it.
Step 4: Leave the epoxy to cure for about an hour before turning on your gas supply to test the gas lines.
4. Replace Damaged Pipes
When the gas pipes are severely damaged by corrosion or due to old age, the most effective solution would be to replace them. A licensed professional is the best person to help you replace the pipes. Replacement involves:
- Step 1: Switching off the gas supply.
- Step 2: Disconnect the leaking gas line to get rid of excess gas.
- Step 3: Cut the damaged pipe sections.
- Step 4: Install new gas pipes and secure them with seals to ensure a leak-free connection.
- Step 5: Apply epoxy around the fittings for a more secure connection and test the gas lines.
Below, we will respond to commonly asked questions regarding how to detect and fix gas leaks in plumbing near me.
No. However, you can minimize the chances of the leaks occurring. You can do this by scheduling regular maintenance for all gas-powered appliances.
You must stop using all electrical devices and turn off the gas supply at the main shut-off valve. Then, evacuate your property, leaving the doors open, and call your local gas company, emergency line, or fire department.
Besides the gas causing fire, you may suffer from dizziness, drowsiness, fainting, breathing problems, and convulsions. And without prompt medical care, you may lose consciousness, fall into a coma, and eventually die.
The causes of gas leaks in plumbing range from damaged seals to faulty installation, corroded fittings, and damaged pipes. But the good news is that there are many ways to detect these leaks. For example, you can perform soapy water tests, check the gas meter, or use a natural gas detector tool.
And when it comes to fixing the gas leaks in your plumbing system, you could tighten the fittings or replace the seals. Alternatively, you can fix the leaks by patching the cracks or replacing damaged pipes. However, it is advisable to hire a professional to fix the gas leaks to avoid faulty installations or repairs.