Author Topic: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?  (Read 9708 times)

MayDay

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Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« on: May 27, 2014, 06:35:30 PM »
Exciting evening around here.  We just smelled gas, called 911, and moments later there were four fire engines in from oft of the house.

Luckily no explosions (although we were dead on the range for exploding).  House is aired out and eye are back in it.  Firemen and gas guy think it is something in/around the gas dryer.  We are supposed to get it fixed, then call the gas company to turn the gas back on.  Dryer is only one year old.  May be the valve itself in the dryer, may just be the line or connection.

H is a fairly competent plumber, and familiar with the safety of dealing with gas (chemical engineer).  However, apparently you can't even buy a lot of the supplies unless you are a licensed plumber.  Plus, all the gas is turned off, so no stove, oven, clothes dryer, water heater, etc, so we don't want to dork around and waste too much time. 

But.  I know we *could* do it ourselves.  This is what I hate about the in between feeling of trying to do it yourself to build skills and save money, but still working FT so how do you have time do do it yourself? 

Wwyd? 

CarDude

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 06:37:36 PM »
Nope. I also don't work with fuel lines in cars. I like more room for error.

Daleth

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 06:38:48 PM »
Not a chance in hell, no.

And do you think your insurance would pay if you tried to fix a gas line yourself and damaged or blew up the house? That is a rhetorical question...

Rural

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 06:40:45 PM »
In your position, I'd pay to have this fixed by somebody I could sue if it all went to hell.

Emg03063

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 06:50:21 PM »
Farm it out.  Not the type of thing worth messing with.

Argyle

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2014, 06:50:35 PM »
No, no, no.  There is a time to save money, and a time to do things by the book.

nereo

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2014, 06:54:30 PM »

H is a fairly competent plumber, and familiar with the safety of dealing with gas (chemical engineer). However, apparently you can't even buy a lot of the supplies unless you are a licensed plumber.  Plus, all the gas is turned off, so no stove, oven, clothes dryer, water heater, etc, so we don't want to dork around and waste too much time. 

But.  I know we *could* do it ourselves. 
Wwyd?
I would not do it myself, and I like to take on most home projects that come my way, from flooring to moving outlets.  The fact that you can't legally buy the supplies indicates this is an area rife with legal issues. 
I know the concept behind gas lines is very, very simple, but the fallouts of making a little mistake are very, very bad.

Greg

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2014, 07:28:37 PM »
Well yes I would fix it myself.  I plumbed my garage for gas (propane) and my house too.  Yes, you can buy the tools and supplies you need (Home Depot for one).  Not sure what the problem is, but it's easy to find.  Pressurize the line, use soap to find the leak. 

Could be a connection, hose, regulator (most appliances have one) or the valve.

Maybe you could explain what supplies/tools you're looking for, and I can help you find them.  Or not, if you're not comfortable.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2014, 07:34:28 PM »
Buy a detector and place it near the dryer after you fix the leaks.  Cheap way to get a early warning.

You can buy a manometer for not much money and do a pressure test of your system. 

I did the whole propane system in the RV we are building.  It isn't rocket science.

MayDay

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2014, 07:40:37 PM »
H says the brand we have is not a common brand, and he took it to HD, who said he could only buy it at a plumbing supply store, which you must be a plumber to buy from.  We have this info from when we had the gas dryer installed- it was a new gas dryer and we had to add a gas line to the manifold, H tried to do it himself, but ended up calling a plumber when we couldn't get parts. 

He does feel comfortable doing it, but wonders if that is a mistake, lol.  Basically he does engineering design for chemical plants, he specs all this type of equipment on an industrial scale, so he isn't going to do something stupid, he knows how dangerous it can be.  He is the one who safely got us out of the house- I was going to go out through the garage, via opening the garage door.  Thanks to his work experience including a chemical plant that blew up when they opened a garage door in the presence of a gas leak, he redirected us out the front door.  So I trust him.

It is more, 1.  The hassle/impossibility of getting parts, and 2.  Stuff like homeowners insurance issues in a case of an accident, or will the gas company even be willing to deal with us- do they want only a licensed plumber to do it before they are willing to turn the gas back on. 

Sounds like I will be finding a plumber to call in the morning.  I don't know if I should call the ok/cheap one who put the gas line in, or a different one.  Not sure I trust the original plumber, but at this point I don't know that he did anything wrong, since we don't yet know exactly what went bad. 

Zamboni

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2014, 07:55:19 PM »
Yes, I would, but I'm experienced in high pressure chemical reactor engineering.  After spending years looking for and fixing leaks every single day on lines and connections at thousands of psi, I think I can handle a small appliance.  I wanted to replace the stove line which had a hairline fracture, but the local shop didn't sell replacements and I was not willing to wait long to be able to cook again, and then later I also wanted to install the gas dryer myself.  Unfortunately I did not have the right adaptor needed to get the dryer line hooked up to the wall connection, and the guys at the hardware store looked at me like I'm a nut job.  So I gave up and had public service do it.  Sigh.

Rube

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2014, 08:23:29 PM »
I'm assuming that the gas is now turned off outside the house. If that's the case the opportunity to troubleshoot has been removed. You could have shut it off at the main and turned it on as needed to narrow down the leak.

When we built our house I kept smelling gas in the laundry room And I noticed a crack on the flare nut on the other side of the dryer shut off. I confirmed it with soapy water. It was a slow enough leak that the dryer could be used but when idle there was enough pressure to seep out a bit. But I couldn't leave the house with the dryer running. I've never owned a flare tool and the house was under warranty so I made the plumber come out.

A few years ago I removed the copper loop after the shut off and replaced it with yellow flex line. It wasn't a big deal.  I'm not sure what tools you'd need that aren't readily available.

Greg

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2014, 09:32:52 PM »
It sounds after another post like MayDay's H can't get a part needed, not that tools are the issue.  MayDay has he looked online or contacted the appliance manufacturer?

Argyle

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2014, 09:42:50 PM »
In our town, the gas company does this kind of repair.  Is that a possibility for you?

Nords

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2014, 10:27:41 PM »
Sounds like I will be finding a plumber to call in the morning.  I don't know if I should call the ok/cheap one who put the gas line in, or a different one.  Not sure I trust the original plumber, but at this point I don't know that he did anything wrong, since we don't yet know exactly what went bad.
Another vote for Argyle's suggestion:  call your gas company.

Our local gas company offers appointments within 48 hours for $45/hour plus parts, and for an extra $45 you can upgrade to same-day service.  That's already cheaper than most of our local plumbers.  The gas company will certainly be able to tell whether your plumber screwed up the installation, and they might even follow up with them.

It's good that you called 911, but it's even better to know how to shut off your gas line yourself.  That way you're good for the hurricane and the earthquake as well as the occasional leaky appliance.

MayDay

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2014, 06:20:09 AM »
Gas is turned off to the house.  The fire department did that.  The gas company came out, verified a leak (put lines under pressure with air, they lost pressure).  The gas guy said "get it fixed, then call us and we will come back, check line pressure again, and turn it back on".  We didn't specifically ask if they would fix it, but our past gas companies have always given us the hard sell on their repair services, so I assumed that if they offer it, they would tell us!

It is currently hooked up with the flexible yellow tubing.  When H couldn't get the part last time, he needed a connector that HD didn't sell.  We had the actual tubing (came with the house's original gas installation) but no way to hook it up. 

We called a plumber this morning, as the costs of not being able to cook while H fixes it seemed to outweigh the cost of the plumber.  We will see how that works out!  Breakfast was graham cracker, peanut butter, banana sandwiches.  Couldn't bake bread or cook eggs. 

nordlead

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2014, 09:06:09 AM »
Not a chance in hell, no.

And do you think your insurance would pay if you tried to fix a gas line yourself and damaged or blew up the house? That is a rhetorical question...

Yes, I do think the insurance would pay. Only if you are committing insurance fraud should they refuse (intentionally blowing up your house). Accidents and stupidity are factored into the cost of your insurance. Heck, some insurance companies will cover you if you accidentally blow up your meth lab in your basement (others will argue it was criminal activity).

Anyways, I'd fix it myself as it really isn't that hard. While some plumbing supply stores will require you to be a contractor there is probably one nearby that doesn't. We have electrical and hardware supply stores that I occasionally visit that primarily service contractors, and only operate 7-5 (for the contractors), but are open to the public. I'm yet to have to find a plumbing supply store open to the public but I'm sure I could find one.

Spork

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2014, 09:39:42 AM »

Late to the topic but: Yes, I have done gas repairs myself.  (I tore my stove down to every single nut/bolt and rebuilt it.)

...but what I wouldn't do is have a gas dryer.  I've heard more than one fireman say that's "the most dangerous appliance ever built." 

Jack

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2014, 10:03:00 AM »
I would feel comfortable installing the gas connection on an appliance (i.e., the part that's designed to be connected and disconnected), but I would not feel comfortable attempting to repair a problem with either the appliance or the house's gas piping itself.

We called a plumber this morning, as the costs of not being able to cook while H fixes it seemed to outweigh the cost of the plumber.  We will see how that works out!  Breakfast was graham cracker, peanut butter, banana sandwiches.  Couldn't bake bread or cook eggs.

Do you have a backyard grill? If so, use it. (Assuming it isn't plumbed to the gas line, obviously.)

...but what I wouldn't do is have a gas dryer.  I've heard more than one fireman say that's "the most dangerous appliance ever built." 

Thanks, now I don't feel so bad about not being able to find a gas dryer at a good price, and going with electric instead.

James

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2014, 10:19:08 AM »
I would, but I apprenticed as a plumber, and also worked for a propane company installing propane tanks and lines in college. I don't think it necessarily can't be done by the average homeowner, but it takes a level of care and knowledge many are not willing or able to provide.

MayDay

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2014, 01:03:26 PM »
Yah, in retrospect the gas dryer was a mistake.  Paid 100$ extra for it, thinking it would save us long term.  Ends up we usually only run one load of dryer a week, so the payoff time is long. 

Plus, like I said earlier, we ended up having to call a plumber to hook it up.

Plumber is here, has been for 1.5 hours.  Can't imagine what the bill will be.  He can't find a leak.  Lines are under pressure and there is definitely a leak somewhere, he is checking appliances one by one. 

Dinner tonight will be pizza in the grill.

MayDay

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2014, 01:07:42 PM »
And right after I posted, he found it:  the leak is inside the dryer. 

Dryer is slightly over a year old, I sure hope this is covered by LG (including the plumber's bill).  Need to get out the warranty stuff and call.  So much for our carefully researched "most reliable" purchase!

Greg

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2014, 04:19:13 PM »
Glad you found the leak.  Good luck with LG and/or where you bought it.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2014, 06:37:13 PM »
Really the pressure test is simple and you could have done that part yourself.  A gauge is around $20 and you can cap off appliances to find the one that is leaking.

I actually trust my work more than I do a licensed contractor (both electrical and plumbing).

NewStachian

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2014, 08:25:58 AM »
It is certainly possible to do correctly yourself, but I think the key indicator here is that you're asking for help on a forum. I wouldn't tackle this unless you already have experience in the field.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 08:27:46 AM by NewStachian »

MayDay

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2014, 09:02:32 AM »
Really the pressure test is simple and you could have done that part yourself.  A gauge is around $20 and you can cap off appliances to find the one that is leaking.

I actually trust my work more than I do a licensed contractor (both electrical and plumbing).

This is actually how I am starting to feel.  Plumber was told it was a leak in/around the dryer.  Looked, found nothing, so checked every other appliance for over an hour.  Finally came back around to dryer and what do you know, leak was in fact in/around the dryer! 

Given the hassle that this has been, 20$ for a gauge would be well worth it.  Obviously it could be much worse (like be winter!). But I would still like to complain extensively :)

Gas company is coming today to turn gas back on, LG is paying for an appliance person to come fix the dryer this afternoon.  With any luck all will be in order by tomorrow.  If the dryer is unfixable I am going to try to convince them to give me an electric one, and give me my 100$ back.  Probably won't win that battle, but doesn't hurt to ask.  LG just had a big recall of other gas dryers (not ours) so I am not exactly full of confidence in them at the moment.

Greg

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2014, 02:30:42 PM »
This is actually how I am starting to feel.  Plumber was told it was a leak in/around the dryer.  Looked, found nothing, so checked every other appliance for over an hour.  Finally came back around to dryer and what do you know, leak was in fact in/around the dryer! 

Gas company is coming today to turn gas back on, LG is paying for an appliance person to come fix the dryer this afternoon.  With any luck all will be in order by tomorrow.  If the dryer is unfixable I am going to try to convince them to give me an electric one, and give me my 100$ back.  Probably won't win that battle, but doesn't hurt to ask.  LG just had a big recall of other gas dryers (not ours) so I am not exactly full of confidence in them at the moment.

Uhhh... why didn't they just turn off the supply to the dryer?  There should be a shutoff where the supply line for the dryer comes out of the wall, before the flexline.

Exflyboy

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2014, 03:59:14 PM »
Ok so no I wouldn't "try" to fix it myself I "WOULD" fix it myself.

I would not have called 911 either.. simply turned the valve off at the meter outside the house. As you saw the Fire department over reacted now you can't have your gas back til the gas company is satisfied... Much quicker than calling the fire department to do it yourself.

None of this is rocket science.. Personally I would have just pressurised it with say 5pis compressed air and found the leak with soapy water.. For that matter you could also have used gas to pressure test after you had vented the house because it takes a while to build up to the Lower explosive limit (gas concentration where it will explode if ignited)

Frank

mcrow

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2014, 04:21:41 PM »
No, get a professional that knows the best, safest way to do the job. Gas is not something you want to tinker with.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2014, 04:56:44 PM »
No, get a professional that knows the best, safest way to do the job. Gas is not something you want to tinker with.

You don't know that the professional really knows what they are doing.  It is not like working on gas lines requires a doctorate.

A gas alarm would be a nice thing to have in the OP's house (or maybe a couple of them).  They are about $30 and warn you when the gas has reached 25% of the level that would even allow an explosion (so well early).

In our camper build, we have the detector wired up to a solenoid which shuts off the gas if a leak is detected.   Seems you could have something like this in a house but I don't think it is common.

mcrow

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Re: Would you try to fix a natural gas leak yourself?
« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2014, 05:04:49 PM »
No, get a professional that knows the best, safest way to do the job. Gas is not something you want to tinker with.

You don't know that the professional really knows what they are doing.  It is not like working on gas lines requires a doctorate.

A gas alarm would be a nice thing to have in the OP's house (or maybe a couple of them).  They are about $30 and warn you when the gas has reached 25% of the level that would even allow an explosion (so well early).

In our camper build, we have the detector wired up to a solenoid which shuts off the gas if a leak is detected.   Seems you could have something like this in a house but I don't think it is common.

Well, the problem is that a reputable plummer should very well know how to do such a job and I think most do. Also, there is liability, if you screw up and damage the house or worse it's all on you. If the plummer screws up their insurance should cover the problem. Personally, I don't think it's a good idea for someone who doesn't work with gas lines to be tinkering with it but if the OP wants to do it, go for it.