Detecting Gas Leak in Wall After Gas Shut Off


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Old 10-06-13, 01:19 PM
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Detecting Gas Leak in Wall After Gas Shut Off

We recently bought a home in which the gas was turned off months prior to our purchase due to a leak. Understandably, the gas company will not turn it back on until the system passes a pressure test.

We found what we thought was the main leak after capping the ends going to the fireplace and oven / stove top, pressuring up to 15 PSI, cutting an opening in the wall where the line enters the house from the meter, and spraying the 3 way joint with soap / water. After fixing this leak by cleaning the threads and putting together with fresh dope and tape, the system doesn't leak as quickly (from 6 PSI drop from 10 PSI in ~24 hours), though there's still a leak somewhere.

My question: is it possible for plumbers to pump some other form of gas into the system and "sniff" for leaks. The line goes up the wall on one side of the living room, through the ceiling (under two bedrooms, so no attic access), and back down the opposite side of the living room to the kitchen. I don't mind cutting holes at each joint and soap testing, I'm just wondering if there's an easier way to pin point a leak after the gas has been shut off.

Also, we're using a cheap 30 psi gauge and it takes a while to determine whether the pressure is holding. Anything better? Do low pressure manometers generally allow you to determine whether a slow leak is present in a timely manner? A plumber will have to do the final pressure test and certify before the gas company turns it on. We'd just like to find the leak and repair on our own to save money, if at all possible. I'm also worried that the leak could still be in one of the exposed joints, it's just too slow to detect with soap / water. Is this possible?

We've tested the joints at each appliance (fireplace, stove / oven).

Your help is much-appreciated!
 
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Old 10-06-13, 02:06 PM
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This is not even close to being a DIY job.
Your family's life depends on it, willing to risk it?
 
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Old 10-06-13, 02:23 PM
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Yes, there are "sniffers" that can help locate the source of a leak. Generally they are NOT available to rent at your local tool rental store. Like joecaption1 said. This is a good job for a pro. Have them use the sniffer to help locate the leak and at the same time determine if the system is sound and trustworthy.

A loose fitting leaking where an appliance connects is one thing. If there is a leak in the walls of an older system it makes the entire system suspect in my mind. I would not sleep well with the possibility of some new leak springing up.
 
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Old 10-06-13, 03:22 PM
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Thank you both for the quick follow up. Even if it passed, we weren't going to turn it back on unless the certifying plumber thought the system was safe enough for his own home. The intention was to do some of the leg work (mostly removing drywall at the joints, etc) in finding the leaks and then have a pro inspect the system and ensure its safe functionality. We repaired the first, obvious leak because it was at the point of entry and was large enough for us to assume that was it. We were wrong.

I hope it's not the entire system. Regardless, you guys are right - it's time to call a pro. Thanks again.
 
 

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