Finding gas lines to grills, gas lights, etc.


Old 11-28-02, 03:58 PM
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Unhappy Finding gas lines to grills, gas lights, etc.

I am a residential landscape contractor working in yards 30+ years old. Although I use common sense in following gas lines from the shutoff valve at the meter, I sometimes only find the gas line when I nick it with my shovel.

Three questions:
1. Is there a way to find the line other than digging along its entire length?
2. If I smell a gas leak from a nicked line, is there a way to find the leak without uncovering the line in the area where I smell the gas?
3. If I need to patch a copper line with compression fittings, what kind of replacement pipe should I use?
I can do solvent welds from my irrigation work, but know nothing about sweating copper pipes.

So far, I have been calling a plumber to fix this problem when it occurs, but at $90/visit and sometimes a 24-hour wait, it is a real job-killer.

Thanks in advance.
Old 11-28-02, 04:22 PM
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Well, here in atlanta, and i am sure in most major metro areas, they will locate the lines for free if you just call them first... that way you can find them before you hit them... But if you nick one, you might buy a very expensive gas detector like the gas company uses to narrow down where the leak is but I have no idea on cost... As to fixing the problem, you would need a flaring tool which you can get pretty cheap... Compression fitting are not code for gas pipe... and you DO NOT want to solder a gas line...

Practice flaring a few pieces and you will get the hang of it quick...
but of course getting the lines located in the first place would be the best thing to do... By the way, if you get them located first, then if you hit one, the utility company will fix it at no charge...
Old 11-29-02, 05:06 AM
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As for finding a gas line before you nick it; Wouldn't running a metal detector over the area give you an indication?

When I first bought this house about two months ago, I "borrowed" from my wife's employer a fancy machine that you connect to a clean, exposed pipe and then after you ground the unit and follow a couple of other steps, you walk around following a directional gauge, so you can locate the pipe from end to end; What made this better than a metal detector was that it only marked the pipe you were following, so you couldn't get the gas line mixed-up with the sewage line and vice-versa; Plus, it'd locate any type of pipe (PVC, Copper, Galvanized, etc.) and best of all, it would tell you how deep the pipe is buried all along the way...

According to the instruction book, this unit also follows buried wires or cables, but there's none on my property, so though I suspect that it worked the same way, I have no direct knowledge of this feature...

I'm sure the unit isn't cheap and I'm sorry, but I don't recall who made it or what it was called; I only "borrowed" it for a couple of days, a couple of months ago; But if you're looking for the "best" solution; I was quite impressed and it beats those OneCall or CallBeforeYouDig services Ragnar suggested and as far as I know are available nationwide, because it also told you how deep things were buried.

(Check the first dozen or so pages of your phonebook for the statewide OneCall service; I live in the middle of the nowhere desert and legally, I'm supposed to call each and every time, before I dig any kind of hole even if I know there's nothing buried, anywhere in the vicinity)

But, because gas is in metal; Wouldn't running a simple metal detector over the area before you start digging, be better than nothing?
Old 11-30-02, 09:56 PM
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Well, actually I have run though systems too but they do require metal to follow usually... You can still track pvc drain pipe though, because you run a metal cable down it and then you track to that... but you do need metal for it to work... the problem with depending on this or a metal detector is that not all gas is run in copper... or even metal... here in atlanta they are running a LOT of flexible gas piping...

The best thing is to have them come locate them for you... One because they have the means to locate their own type of lines... (they usually run a tracking wire along with the plastic gas pipes)...Two because then even if you hit one, if it wasn't marked correctly, you aren't liable for it...
Old 12-03-02, 09:01 PM
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Wink Finding brass gas lines

These are really great replies! I knew the Utility co's would locate lines in public right-of-ways, but hadn't thought about even asking for private property.

I will do some more research on replacement/repair of lines - maybe i just need to find a plumber who needs alot of landscaping and we can trade out ........

Any more input would be welcome.
Old 12-03-02, 09:31 PM
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Speaking strickly from my experience, calling to have a PRIVATE gas or water line located by Underground Service Alert (USA) isn't going to work. USA will tell you where the utility companies put THEIR lines, but where the lines may be on private property is anybody's guess. Using a metal detector to find a sprinkler line that the homeowner installed is pretty much out of the question -- at least 95% of those will have been done in PVC. Finding a private gas line with a metal detector can probably be done -- IF the metal detector can find metal that is 12" deep (or more) in the ground. Very few homeowners have access to plastic gas line.

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