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Thread: Fixing gas line leak - DIY?

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    Default Fixing gas line leak - DIY?

    Ok, I have found a small leak in one of the Natural Gas line Connection to the furnace. The space is ventilated, and was found via soap and water. It is at a threaded connection, and from what I have read, it just needs to be taken apart and new pipe dope put on and reconnected. Before I go out and hire a professional, is this something that I could do myself? I tend towards DIY, and do a lot of my own electrical and plumbing work, but I know gas is different. I have access to the gas meter shutoff about 10 feet away, and I have two pipe wrenches to help remove the pipe. I have read that i just need to remove the pipe entering the connection, clean and redo the pipe dope on the connections, and tighten again. If I can do this, it will be $5-20 to fix it, versus $120-250, which is what the quotes I have gotten seem to be.

    If this is best left to the professionals, that's fine. But i figured I would ask.
    2001 Civic LX

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    BoaterFry Fry's Avatar
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    Easy peasy. Shut off the gas supply, turn off the furnace, break the connection, leave the room for a few minutes. Open a window or something if you can. Don't do any work or hang out in the room until the smell is gone. Keep in mind that even with the source shut off there will still be gas in the line that will blow down when you break the connection. Plus there's no guarantee that your isolation valve won't leak. Don't work until the smell is gone.

    Wipe the old dope off with a rag (it doesn't have to get "clean") and visually inspect the fitting. There's a chance it may have always leaked because the original installer cranked it down too tight and cracked the fitting. This isn't uncommon and can be hard to see. Look close with a good light. If it looks good then smear some new dope on (keep it off the last thread or two so that you don't wind up with some in the pipe, and you really don't need a lot, "wipe" it off with your finger and what's left in the valleys of the threads will be plenty) and twist it back together. Household gas lines are only at like 1/4 psi so they're not hard to seal. And black iron is brittle. What I'm getting at is if you really crank on the fitting you will crack the pipe. You can always tighten it more if it still leaks. The only time you have to take the fitting apart and start all over is if you need to back it off for some reason. Even then you can usually get away with a 1/4 turn if you need to to align elbows or whatever.

    Hopefully they put a union nearby since when you loosen one end of a pipe threaded on both ends, you're tightening the other end.

    Soap test it again when you're all done. If it still leaks you may need to replace both pipes at the joint because one may be cracked or have deformed threads or something.

    The only thing "different" about natural gas is that the pipes are black iron and require appropriate pipe dope. (I.e. don't use teflon tape.) You can get a can of it at any hardware store. It'll have a brush built into the lid that you can use to apply the dope to the threads.
    Last edited by Fry; 11-30-2012 at 10:47 AM.

    "PS - Dear Fry, We miss you. Drinkers anonymous"

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    Lifetime User 97FormulaWS-6's Avatar
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    I'll second everything Fry said.
    I believe that there are some people out there that have such a bad case of chronic rectal-cranial inversion that they may be beyond help.

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    Lifetime User 1sik bmw's Avatar
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    Have done it a ton of times ^ what he said

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    Ok, I have the general idea. I'll have to get a picture of it an post what I understand that i would do, just to make sure. Hopefully i can get one today so i can figure out what to do. Would rather not blow myself or the house up...
    2001 Civic LX

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    GIMME DA COOKIES JayS's Avatar
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    If you don't understand what to do after reading what Fry posted call someone in to fix it.

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    "Has a parent, do I had the same thought pattern" Anonymity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayS View Post
    If you don't understand what to do after reading what Fry posted call someone in to fix it.
    X2
    I would rather ride a fixed gear bike in skinny jeans with George Michael sitting on the handlebars then own a BMW- Quattro Krant

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    Well, I understand what he is saying, but since this is MY house, and I like to be certain that I am taking the correct part apart, I would be providing a picture and a description of what I plan on doing just so I can bounce the idea off someone. I'm all for experimenting with water lines, and Electrical because I've done them before. Gas is still an unknown to me.
    2001 Civic LX

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    BoaterFry Fry's Avatar
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    So we're on day 4 of known gas leak. Neat.

    "PS - Dear Fry, We miss you. Drinkers anonymous"

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    "Has a parent, do I had the same thought pattern" Anonymity's Avatar
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    You shouldn't use YOUR keyboard to type.

    You do electical? What is your professional/ working knowlege of it?

    You asked for help, you have an active gas leak,but you choose to debat it on the Internet.

    "You can't teach stupid"
    I would rather ride a fixed gear bike in skinny jeans with George Michael sitting on the handlebars then own a BMW- Quattro Krant

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    Use pipe thread sealant rated for natural gas use. I use Blue Monster. In light if recent natural gas related incidents, and their subsequent lawsuits, I cannot be held responsible for any advice given in this post, or others.
    "My Z is a hybrid vehicle....it runs on gasoline and money."

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    Well I don't have an active leak at this time. I picked up some pipe dope and covered the area with the leak with it the day that I made the post. This stopped the leak, but I know this is just a bandaid and not a solution. And I am not sure why I capitalized MY, but that does change the tone of the response.

    With my knowledge of Electrical, it came from having someone with experience showing me when i first started working with it in my own home, and also reading a couple of the how-to books. I unfortunately know no one who has experience with Gas that can come over and guide me, which is why I asked for advice here and have been reading up on it. Had I not been able to stop the leak, I would have called someone immediately to resolve it, which I still may do.

    I appreciate all the comments, and realize that you can only go off what has been stated here. Don't really appreciate the personal attack comments, but I guess that's expected here.

    Thanks for the initial response Fry, which I will be re-reading when I am in home so I can actually see what you are talking about on my actual lines.
    2001 Civic LX

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    Don't forget that you'll have to bleed the air out of the line once you have it all back together. You definitely want to make sure you have windows open for that. Depending on the length of pipe being removed it can take awhile. Turn off your furnace and hot water breakers until your certain the air is out and all gas has been ventilated.
    2012 Ram 1500 4x4- tow vehicle
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    BoaterFry Fry's Avatar
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    You must have missed the part where he fixed the leak by smearing pipe dope on it.

    For someone making spinning a pipe together waaaaay too complicated he sure managed to fuck it up badly. It's quite amazing really.

    "PS - Dear Fry, We miss you. Drinkers anonymous"

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    BoaterFry Fry's Avatar
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    Last question then I'm out of this thread before it blows up:

    What caused you to soap test the joint in the first place?

    "PS - Dear Fry, We miss you. Drinkers anonymous"

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    Home in Rochester/Binghamton, NY explodes.
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    im glad you're out of NFG territory lol

    B.D.R

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    GIMME DA COOKIES JayS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmyfloyd View Post
    I picked up some pipe dope and covered the area with the leak with it the day that I made the post. This stopped the leak
    Get someone in there that knows what they're doing before you blow yourself up. Slapping pipe dope on the outside of a leaking union doesn't qualify as even a temporary fix. If you properly leaked tested it I'd bet it's still leaking, and even if it's not it's one slight vibration away from leaking again.

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    Well, I am having a professional repair this issue, so I guess this thread isn't necessary.

    What made me do the test was that I closed one of the doors in the basement for the first time since I bought the house and when i went back down 3 days later, there was a faint smell of gas. I put the pipe dope on it, which stopped or reduced the leak to the point where the soap test did not reveal anything, and I have checked it every day since. I came here to see if this was a DIY project that I could handle. Obviously I should have gone with my first assumption that it was not. There are two dozen joints in the area that this was, and I didn't want to end up creating a bigger issue/more leaks for myself than the initial one that I could monitor.

    The house didn't blow up, and the issue is resolved. Thanks for the Comments
    2001 Civic LX

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    BoaterFry Fry's Avatar
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    I'm tempted to type out a long response, but you can't fix stupid. Until you have this fixed correctly, pray that your house doesn't blow up killing everyone inside. I recommend this in all seriousness because prayer will be more effective than smearing pipe dope on the outside of a leaking joint.

    "PS - Dear Fry, We miss you. Drinkers anonymous"

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