Natural Gas Leaks
I am new to the field and have been given a wide wide range of advice from supervisors and co-workers. I have at one point been told that any kind of leak, no matter how small, is a problem, while at other times told not to worry unless it is a large leak. I usually check a cutomer's lines on each service call with my sniffer, then use soap bubbles on any suspected leaks. I would estimate I find at least one leak at 25% of the jobs (some seem pretty small but they do bubble). I also am told that the other techs are not finding leaks. They all have more experience than me. In some cases, decades more. This leads me to beleive I may be overdoing it.
So, what is the best way to handle natural gas leaks?
well here's the thing. At least in Maryland the gas company only considers a leak to be a problem if it's over x amount over so much time...
if you ask me ANY leak is a problem..as it's wasting the customers money and typically leaks only get worse.
and how can you be overdoing it just because techs with years more experience are NOT finding leaks? if anything it sounds to me like they're half-assing there own jobs...
be sure you aren't confusing little bubbles that naturally form in the spray from just applying it and bubbles that are actually leaks...there is a difference and you WILL know it.
no such thing as overdoing it on a gas leak, ALL gas leaks can blow up a house, small leaks turn into large leaks, screw the oldtimers, CYA fix ANY leak you find, if the homeowner doesn't think it leaks enough to repair call the gas company, they shut down furnaces for minimal leak by to the orfices, I had one I didn't feel leaked by at all and their sniffer smelled gas and they red tagged it. So if the gas co. says you replace it, you do it anyway. This one only raised the pressure by like .03" in 20 seconds or so, but it was enough for them.
You can't fix stupid
Your doing right,Use your gut-feeling. you go in a home or any place and smell gas you need to make the homeowner or person who ever that something is going on! a small leak over a period of time can be a large pocket of gas, Then person is cold turns on heat and then they have ignition followed by LIFT_OFF BOOM! If you where there and could fix a small leak around a furnace and didn't and heard about it or read about it in a paper how would you feel. Some folks ( co-workers) and I have had some just don't give a sh*t. Point being let somebody know!
small leaks o.k.???
No leak is o.k., any leak is not o.k..
There is no replacement for soap/water.
If you're finding a leak 25% of the time, somethings wrong. I would highly recommend that someone goes through the area where you are finding these leaks, if it is on piping/tubing you're installing, maybe they can provide some insight.
If I install a system every joint gets soap/water, new installs get a pressure test. Thats code here.
I visually inspect systems I'm working on, and use soap water if there has been a customer complaint, or I see/smell anything suspicious.
i do a gas leak check on all pms
most seem to be gas cocks need to be tightened and the pilot tubes compresion fitting needs tightening or replacing
quick leak check on gas is never orver doing it
Thank for the replies.
Just to clear up a few things...
The bubbles are from the leak, when I apply the solution it usually doesn't have any bubbles anyway, and I always wait for at least a few minutes then check it and there will be lots of bubbles.
These leaks are not on anything I install, or have even worked on in the past, and usually are in older homes with older firnaces. And 25% might have been a little high in hindsight, maybe more like 10-15%.
If you where there and could fix a small leak around a furnace and didn't and heard about it or read about it in a paper how would you feel.
In my area if the gas co is called and thier sniffer senses methane in the house they pull the meter and tell the HO to call a plumber. The gas co requires a 15psig pressure test for 24 hrs before they will re-install a meter. I have found that if all gas shutoff valves are not pulled and service line plugged I can never achieve the above. The shutoffs, even ball valves, will leak down over 24 hrs. I guess the 15 psig is overkill since most gas systems operate at about 4-6 in w.c. This is very time consuming and expensive for the HO but if they want gas they do what the gas co wants.
If you haven't come to the point yet......... you should as you mature in the industry. What am I talking about? Being able to sleep at night when you think back on what you've done that day!
If you found a gas leak in your own home, no matter how small, wouldn't you fix it?
Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.
Everyone is right fix any leak you find. What it takes maybe 5 min unless you have to break down alot of line then you might spend 30 min at the most. Does not sound like much time to trade for maybe saving someones life. Remember there are no shortcuts on gas line.
Knowledge comes with experience
My biggest fear is that I'll be checking out the 10pm news and the house I worked on today is on the news for a housefire. That always motivates me. Natural gas is a lot more forgiving that propane due to its weight. It disperses easier in the air and is harder to ignite. If you do find a gas leak, fix it. When somebody gets hurt and your boss gets sued, he'll change his tune.