Gas Leak Detector

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by statjunk, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Hey guys,

    What is a good gas leak detector for the money? I'm not a pro so I just need something that will work maybe two times a year when I work with black pipe.

    Also I already know the soap test but it's a pain in the arse especially on vertical joints. Not to mention messy.

    Tom
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
  3. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    We had a similar "sniffer" at the apt. complex I worked at. One day, a tenant was complaining about a gas leak near her stove, but my maint. manager could not find it with that fancy device.

    My nose homed right in on it in seconds. One of the burners was leaking slightly, even when turned off. A match quickly verified this. The mechanical sniffer collected dust after that.

    BTW, a burner is the only place I would use a match to verify a gas leak.
  4. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Thanks guys.

    Anyone else feel the same way as Verdeboy?

    Tom
  5. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    Tom, I agree with Verde.
    Trouble is those sniffers are often triggered by other chemicals, I watched a guy run around for two hours trying to find a leak when it turned out to be something else triggering it.
    Gas, both propane and Natural, are mixed with additives to give them their distinctive smells.
    I hate to sound repetitive, but if you smell gas and can't find it...call a plumber/gas fitter.
    There are things we know to look for that most homeowners might not realize.

  6. NONE.

    The only ones I recommend are the ones that are carried in the hands of the local gas utility company that run about $3000 that have free insurance.

    Free insurance that you called out the right people and their device was properly calibrated on a regular schedule. They work well and anytime I smell gas in a home, they are called. It's a CYA and also allows full inspection of the gas line. Most if not always they pick up more leaks which makes me money.

    Money <<< the only leafy green I'm consuming on a regular basis these days. :eek:
  7. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    You seem a little malnourished. ;)
  8. A Chemist's nose knows.

    david.
  9. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    "...before gas is distributed to end-users, it is odorized by adding small amounts of odorants (mixtures of t-butyl mercaptan, isopropyl mercaptan, tetrahydrothiophene, dimethyl sulfide and other sulfur compounds), to assist in leak detection."

    A lot of contries don't add odorants to the gas, so you'd need to soap-test the joints on a regular basis or have an electronic sniffer going 24/7... or just wait for the explosion. :eek:
  10. myths expand to take up the available "belief space". It could be true, but I'll wait for confirmation.

    btw, did you know that Shakespeare made a pun using contrie pronounced slowly?

    david
  11. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    There are times when I think alot of my code is over-doing it, some of it seems archaic, like I'm sure there's a maintanence tech/engineer at some refinery somewhere who hates having to assure that the mixture of sulphur compounds is feeding correctly.
  12. CHH

    CHH New Member

    Messages:
    225
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Now we're getting into my end of things. Here's an opportunity to increase your store of useless trivia.

    Gas processing is handled in facilities called gas plants (surprisingly enough) and refineries are big customers.

    Gas plants clean gas and extract liquid hydrocarbons using various chemical and physical processes. Refineries process oil by basically boiling it (ignoring cracking) so they are fundamentally different.

    I can't say what happens universally but here in the US the odorant is added on the distribution end, not the supply end. You can find end use gas here in the US that doesn't have odor but it is really rare. It'll be a land owner who has a deal to burn their own gas on their own land.
  13. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    Funny, had you in mind when I made that statement.
  14. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Got this off the net:

    Natural gas odorants used in the United States to help
    detect leaks are used in LNG but not CNG in India.
    Officials are seeking an appropriate substance to use.
  15. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    MN/ND
    I use a TIF 8800A. I've had this model for ~6 years (and short of replacing the rechargeable batteries once, and a tip after it got messed up with rectorseal when I borrowed it to a co-worker), it has worked like a charm. I rely on this tool, and have much more faith in it than I do soap.

    Always start the unit in a clean air space, like outside.

    The key to correctly using a combustible gas detector is always test it to a known source of gas before doing any detecting. Since I'm an evil cigarette smoker, I always have a butane lighter around to test against. This ensures the unit is working.

    Also, use a model that has an adjustible sensitivity AND USE THAT KNOB! The sensitivity setting can be your best friend or enemy. In areas where gas has pooled (floor joists), the sensitivity can be turned down to find the actual leaks. For obscure leaks (gas controls, burner valves on ranges), the device can show leaks that cannot be soaped.

    I have found leaks that others with soap have not been able to find. One in particular was a 2# gas line with an overcut thread. There was what looked to be a pinhole in the old petrified pipe dope. Soaping did not show the leak, as the soap was blown away from the hole.

    There are some peculiarities with all sniffers. They do react to some pipe dopes. Guys using recto #5 and 'gimme the white' will find some slight false readings off the dope. Those who use 'gimme the green' and especially the blue-lock dopes are pretty much stuck to using soap, as the alcohols really mess with the sniffer.

    I personally use megalock, mostly for it's easy clean up. A nice byproduct is that it is inert to the sniffer. Anyone choosing to use a sniffer should really try the sniffer against their dope and use what works the best.

    Also, if you're going to both sniff and use soap (for an added level of security), always sniff first. My sniffer will even pick up dried soap.
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