(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: slow gas line leak - how to detect?

  1. #1
    DIY Member kmuddzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    41

    Default slow gas line leak - how to detect?

    Hi. I have a combination csst and black pipe gas line system and it has a leak. At 10psi it will drop 4 psi in an 18hr period but at 5psi it will only drop .5psi in the same amount of time. Either way, there doesn't seem to be enough air leaking to make bubbles using a detergent/water mix. Is there a better way to detect such a slow leak?

    I've taken apart the black pipe, put the appropriate pipe putty on it and retightened it very hard. Every time there is still a leak this is driving me nuts.

    Thanks for your help!! Keith

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    21,382

    Default

    The gas company, and probably some HVAC or plumbers, generally have a gas sniffer probe that can detect very small leaks. Never looked for one to buy, but a tool rental place might have one.

    It could be a porous cast fitting or a valve (don't trust the stuff from China!, but it could happen from anywhere) and not in the threaded connection.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Member Killer95Stang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Southern CA
    Posts
    46

    Default

    I'm no plumber... but I have had a similar situation.. and I did stay in a Holiday Inn once...

    First.. I'm assuming you are testing your gas line with your gas meter disconnected from the system. If not, you are most likely loosing the gas from the vent on the meter. Most meters cannot handle that much pressure in the line past the regulator.

    My second tip... call your gas company!! They will come out typically for free to test for gas leaks... even at midnight on a Sunday. Socal Gas had not problem coming out on off hours to test when I had leak near my meter. Once he fixed the meter issue, he used his gas sniffer to test around the the new tankless water heater that was put in.

  4. #4
    DIY Member kmuddzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    41

    Default

    Thanks everyone. this is a new LP gas line install for a new heating system, dryer and hot water heater. The LP tank hasn't been installed yet and I am just testing this for the rough-in inspection. There isn't a regulator on the lines - the black pipe is simply capped as it runs outside.

    I thought that maybe the valves were bad (or even the guage) but obviously the only way I can figure this all out is to replace them one at a time and retest, which is time consuming. That is why I was looking for a way to detect the leak so I could actually fix the problem rather than spend more time on something I have already spent way too much time on. I've already pushed back my inspection 3x thinking I would easily be able to solve this by the next day only to see it lose psi again. I'm sure the inspectors don't like me doing that....

    I will see if a plumber or rental place has something I could rent. Thanks for the suggestions - if anyone has any others let me know.

    Keith

  5. #5
    DIY Member kevink1955's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    L.I. New York
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kmuddzy View Post
    Thanks everyone. this is a new LP gas line install for a new heating system, dryer and hot water heater. The LP tank hasn't been installed yet and I am just testing this for the rough-in inspection. There isn't a regulator on the lines - the black pipe is simply capped as it runs outside.

    I thought that maybe the valves were bad (or even the guage) but obviously the only way I can figure this all out is to replace them one at a time and retest, which is time consuming. That is why I was looking for a way to detect the leak so I could actually fix the problem rather than spend more time on something I have already spent way too much time on. I've already pushed back my inspection 3x thinking I would easily be able to solve this by the next day only to see it lose psi again. I'm sure the inspectors don't like me doing that....

    I will see if a plumber or rental place has something I could rent. Thanks for the suggestions - if anyone has any others let me know.

    Keith
    What are you using to air it up, I have a small oil less compressor that I use and once the system under test is up to pressure and I shut the compressor down the air will leak back thru the compressor. It's a slow leak but it will screw up the test.

    I now use a schrrader fitting so I can disconnect the compressor, I also leak test the schrader fitting so I know it's leak free.

    Just a thought

  6. #6
    DIY Member kmuddzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    41

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1955 View Post
    What are you using to air it up, I have a small oil less compressor that I use and once the system under test is up to pressure and I shut the compressor down the air will leak back thru the compressor. It's a slow leak but it will screw up the test.

    I now use a schrrader fitting so I can disconnect the compressor, I also leak test the schrader fitting so I know it's leak free.

    Just a thought
    Good thought & thanks. I use a bicycle pump on a schrader valve. It only takes 15 seconds to get the piping to 10psi. I used to keep it connected but I've disconnected it once I reach pressure and still get the same leaking. I read that the union fittings are very prone to leak and also that one shouldn't use dope with teflon in it on these unions. I first used dope with teflon so I'm going to go back and either clean or replace the union fitting using non-teflon dope. I will update this thread once I figure this out.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    282

    Default

    Air up the line with 10-15lbs of air.....Get some Dawn dishwashing liquid....thin it with a little water.....paint the solution onto every fitting and let it sit......You can find the smallest leak with this technique....I had a line I was testing and it had avery slow leak......It was the cap I bought from Home Depot just to test the line.....Made in China and porous.....leaked right thru the metal and this was not the first time for this issue with something from H-D

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,608

    Default

    quote; call your gas company!! They will come out typically for free to test for gas leaks...

    In this area, if you call the gas company, they will come out and check the meter to see if you have a gas leak in the house. If you do, they "LOCK" the meter and red tag it. Then you MUST call a licensed plumber. He locates the gas leak, obtains a city repair permit, gets an inspection, THEN the city calls the gas company so the gas is turned back on. THis is usually about a one week process. IF you call the plumber first, he will locate and repair the leak in about a day.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Santa Clara, CA
    Posts
    354

    Default

    Double check the gauge and the immediate surroundings with soapy water (try the kids bubble making stuff). I almost always seem to get leaks there.

  10. #10
    DIY Member kmuddzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    41

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich B View Post
    Air up the line with 10-15lbs of air.....Get some Dawn dishwashing liquid....thin it with a little water.....paint the solution onto every fitting and let it sit......You can find the smallest leak with this technique....I had a line I was testing and it had avery slow leak......It was the cap I bought from Home Depot just to test the line.....Made in China and porous.....leaked right thru the metal and this was not the first time for this issue with something from H-D
    THANKS! for some reason I didn't think about increasing the air. I googled this problem and found that you shouldn't use teflon pipe dope in a union. Not sure if this is true but I cleaned out the union, used some non-teflon pipe dope, and really tightened it. I then jacked up the PSI to over 15lbs and coated the joints. A Tee hub had a very small leak and the union was still leaking a small amount so I tightened both as hard as I could using big plumbers wrenches and I am now good.

    The lessons I learned doing my first LP gas line rough-in installation:

    1) CSST is coslty but much simpler and easier than black pipe.
    2) Stop by the plumbers supply and get good pipe dope and don't be shy with it (on the male threads only).
    3) Use some big plumbers wrenches and tighten the joints harder than you think is necessary. I was straining at times.
    4) The black pipe and fixtures made in China can be defective so don't rule that out.
    5) If you have a slow leak, jack up the PSI (make sure your guage can handle it) and coat the joints with a thick slurry of dish detergent and water and watch for subtle foaming.

    Thanks to all that replied and helped!!!
    Keith

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,608

    Default

    Use kid's soap bubble solution instead of soap and water. It will "stick" to the joint a lot longer and any bubbles will also be more visible for a longer time.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  12. #12
    DIY Member kmuddzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    41

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Use kid's soap bubble solution instead of soap and water. It will "stick" to the joint a lot longer and any bubbles will also be more visible for a longer time.
    Good to know - thanks!

Similar Threads

  1. Help with slow leak
    By Kestrel in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 01-15-2012, 02:45 PM
  2. How to detect leak under a slab with underground pex
    By madonnab in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 11-29-2009, 05:29 PM
  3. Arc Detect Breakers
    By seaneys in forum Electrical Forum discussion & Blog
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 09-02-2007, 06:51 AM
  4. tub caulking won't dry. Slow leak behind wall?
    By cygnus in forum Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 07-19-2007, 03:13 PM
  5. Slow leak in bathroom
    By kramer12345 in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-29-2006, 01:17 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •