Robert Lamoureux | Is my gas leak lingering?

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux
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Question: Robert, my name is John S., I live in Canyon Country and recently discovered a gas leak. I had a plumber come out to make the repair. He had one of those tools that detects gas fumes, which he used following the repair to verify no other leaks, plus he put soap on the pipe. No bubbles formed from the soap but the detector emitted a tone, which alerted to gas, another leak.  

This didn’t make any sense to me, how no physical leak could be found yet an alert would happen. The plumber stated that no doubt the original leak had been there so long that the ground was saturated, thus causing the alert. I am uneasy, not completely trusting that this issue is resolved. Can you weigh in and give any insight? Should I follow up with another plumber? 

Answer: John, it is highly likely that your plumber is correct: The soil can absorb gas fumes and alert on a sniffer. Often the area will be left open for a couple of days following a repair to allow it to dissipate, then retested. If there was only the one leak, this will solve the alert issue. 

Another way to prove that no leaks are present would be to pressurize the line with a 24-hour standing test. A plumber can cap all appliance lines, pressurize the line with air and put a meter on it. If the pressure remains the same after 24 hours, it is safe to say that there are no leaks and it is OK to proceed with closing up the repair area. If the area is still open, have the plumber return in a couple of days for a retest, so you can rest assured that the leak has been resolved. Good luck. 

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].        

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