"Allowable" Gas Leakage

I routinely use a TIF 8800 combustible gas detector to check for leaks in gas supply lines and some appliance components. On a recent inspection I reported that the natural gas-fueled water heater’s thermostat valve had a leak. I could smell it, and verified that it was there (multiple times) with my gas detector. So, they had a heating and cooling guy come out and he confirmed that it was leaking, but that it was leaking at an “Allowable” rate. My client forwaded me some documents (see attached) he was provided relating to this, and sure enough, Rheem and Ruud say the allowable rate for leakage is 200 cubic cm of natural gas per hour. I hate crying “wolf” at inspections, so the question arises, how to discern 175 cu. cm./hr vs. 250?

As an aside, other documents I found on the web state that there is NO allowable leakage for LP gas.


I normally don’t pull out my TIFF 8800 unless my nose smells something. Then I try to locate it. But if there is a leak, enough for my nose, I report it and let the gas tech deal with it.

How was the gas tech able to measure the “leak of an allowable rate”?

Something certainly smells here.:shock:

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That’s reasonable because natural gas will dissipate and not become a flash or explosion hazard if adequate ventilation is provided. However, it is far beyond us to try and determine the “volume” of the leakage, therefore, all leaks should be reported and deferred accordingly.

As for LP, this gas is heavier than air, and as such, will pool or pond in low areas, thus becoming a flash or explosion hazard.

Well said Jeff. Measurements of this accuracy are well beyond the scope of work for a home inspection.

Jeff is corrected in the LPG leaks pooling due to heavier than air. I use LPG more so than not in temporary heating during the Winter months and if you can sniff it, you better take care of it quick and I mean no delays. On a construction site this would be extremely hazardous.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

You made the right call. Keep doing what you’re doing. A gas leak is a bad thing. They don’t heal themselves. You pointed it out, recommended a repair by a qualified contractor, and they had someone come out and check it. Now the qualified contractor, an “expert in that field”, has looked at it and signed off on it. You did your job.

Had the same thing happen to me my first year of doing inspections. The local gas company came to the home and stated that the gas leak was allowable an in tolerance of the local building code. The home owner called me and asked if I would pay the $55.00 service call and I did with no hesitation. I got four referrals from this past client. He was happy, I was happy, and apparently the gas water heater was happy. i think you did your job and have done it very well. Keep up the good work.

I happened to be driving past a motel when it exploded, I didn’t know what the hell happened, all I saw was pink insulation flying in the air like a blizzard, two people were killed and the cause, LP leak, obviously substantial, explosion touched of by one of the victims when they came back to their room and turned the light switch on.

That’s why there is no tolerance for LPG leaks. . .

Everything leaks kids. Even LPG piping and valves. Now you may not be able to detect any leaks using soapy water, pressure decay testing, or thermal conductivity meters on an LPG system, but that is far different from saying it does not leak.:slight_smile: There were no detectable leaks might be a more accurate description.:wink:

One of the FAQs on the SDG&E site used to say something similar to this:

Q: How do I know if I have a gas leak and where it is?
A: If you can smell it, you have a gas leak. Don’t worry about where it is. Turn the gas off at the gas meter and call us immediately at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Don’t light anything like cigarettes or candles. Turn all lights and appliances off and don’t turn anything on. Open all windows.

I think their words of warning were more extensive than what I wrote right there, but the gist of the message was, “Call us immediately.”

That was good enough for me.

We’re fortunate here in California, most public utility gas service companies will respond to gas leaks for no service charge to the owner.

I also use the tif 8800, its a great tool…i use it on all inspections where gas is being used in the home…If it sniffs any gas i put in the report…
and recommend a professional to come out and look at it… I have not had any complaints…most clients say thank you, but if it came down to saftey, and i was wrong… i will pay the tech to come out and check it. Last thing i would want is a new home owner, moving in and his house blows up… if that happens who do you think they will blame. …

Just my $ .02
maybe this helps…

Thanks RM