Reuben Saltzman

Why Can’t The Gas Company Find These Gas Leaks?

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I find a lot of gas leaks, and I always try to make it easy for a repair technician to find the leaks.  I take a photo of the leak with a bunch of soapy bubbles coming out of it, I mark the exact location of the leak with orange tape, and I write “Gas Leak” on it.  You can’t miss it.

Gas Leak Marked 2

So why is it so difficult for the GAS COMPANY to find these leaks?

Ironically, I’ve found that almost every time the gas company comes out to repair a gas leak that I’ve found during a home inspection, they end up leaving the house without fixing the leak.  I’m not alone in my findings – I’ve heard this same sentiment expressed by many other Minnesota home inspectors, and this last month has been particularly frustrating.

Example #1: I inspected a home that had already been ‘pre-inspected’ by another home inspector.  The other home inspector had identified a gas leak and marked it with masking tape.  The photo below shows what the gas valve looked like at the time that I did my inspection.

Gas Leak Marked

After the first home inspector identified this leak, the gas company came out and said there was no gas leak, and went on their way without fixing it.  I knew exactly what happened, because it happens to me all the time.  The photo below shows the same gas fitting with my gas leak solution bubbling.  Granted, it’s a very small leak, but who cares?  Fix it!

Bubbling Gas Leak

Example #2: At another home inspection I did last month in Bloomington, I could clearly smell gas while standing at the water heater.  I bent down and smelled a significant leak at the union.  I put some leak solution on the union, and it quickly blew a bubble about the size of a quarter.  This was so obvious that I didn’t even bother marking the location of the leak… but I’ll never make that mistake again.  The seller called the gas company, who came out and said there was no leak.  We then called the gas company, talked to the technician that went out the first time, told him exactly where to find the leak, and he still couldn’t find it the second time he was out.  Unbelievable.

These experiences drive me crazy.

My advice: If your home inspector tells you that you have a gas leak, hire a plumber to fix it.  The gas company is not in the business of repairing minor gas leaks inside of people’s houses.  If they really do find a serious gas leak, their priority is to make it safe, which usually means shutting off the gas.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Minnesota Home Inspector

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