Do You use a Gas Detector?

This week I found another gas leak…When I entered the basement I thought I was smelling sewer gas. *The sewer pipes, the plumbing waste lines had several repairs and were in poor condition. *When it was time to inspect the gas boiler all the bells & whistles went off on my portable gas detector.

The Viessman gas boiler (1984) was Red Tagged…

The home even had Co2 detectors on the main level.

The vendor and the home purchaser were both grateful that the leak was detected during the inspection. Either one of them could have woke up dead…

I know that there are several home inspectors out in the field everyday that do not use gas detectors during inspections. It is my opinion that they may be missing gas leaks around gas appliances.

Are you using one?

This is the 3rd gas appliance in the past 4 months that I found leaking gas. (Furnace, Gas fireplace and a Boiler).

First what are the pros and cons for using a gas detector?

I do not doubt there is a need and place for them, but it can also create an “atmosphere” of false conclusions.

Does it place an inspector at a higher level of risk, going beyond the SOP? Or perhaps should certain inspection test tools be incorporated into the SOP?

Just some food for thought! - Your thoughts???

I use an electronic sniffer to check accessible connections, flex lines, cut off valves and appliance main valves.

I add these two statements to my reports to let the client know that ALL lines were not tested.

" Gas lines were not tested using a local or industry accepted procedure. I recommend contacting a licensed plumber if testing of gas line is desired."

[FONT=Times New Roman][size=2]
“Accessible gas piping connections to appliances were tested for leaks at connections and accessible gas piping with an Infeoon Combustible gas leak detector. No leaks were found at time of inspection”

I think you meant to say Carbon Monoxide CO
Carbon Dioxide CO2 monitors are only in Commercial applications for proper level indicators of air supply on the HVAC equipment.
If you are testing for gas and are not certified to do so you can fix yourself really good if caught by AHJ.:roll:

Karl - I think its a great idea. ALthough we don’t have gas here, it would be something that I would look into if we did.

As with everything we do, cover yourself well and keep doing with what you feel good about. I have a ton of tools that go beyond the SOP. I view the SOP as a minimal standard and others will agree and disagree. Its your business decision. I look at it from a homebuyers point of view. Partially inspecting something well is better than not inspecting it all as long as I know its just a partial inspection.

Congrats on finding the possible HUGE problem keep up the good work. When your clients “were grateful” of the find, to me that says it all…

Do what your comfortable doing, let the client know your limitations and keep having “grateful” clients and you will have a “grateful” checking account.

[size=2][FONT=Times New Roman]“Accessible gas piping connections to appliances were tested for leaks at connections and accessible gas piping with an Infeoon Combustible gas leak detector. No leaks were found at time of inspection”

I think you meant Inficon
This is the one I do testing with.

BPI protocol requires gas leak detectionon all accessible supply lines and continous monitoring of COduring the entire audit. I have incorporated these steps into my home inspections, as well. I’ve linked to the equipment that I use.

As far as reporting on the “absence” of detected combustible gas or CO … I don’t. I will, however, report it when I find it.

I’m glad this subject came up as I have been looking a this to add to my services. Does anyone use or have a comment on this detector:
I have no special want for this one in particular just looking for input.
On a liability note, if we checked fitting, lines etc. and noed a leak we obviously should report what we found and advise further investigation…
If we used the detector, found nothing do we need to even report that? It’s beyond what people are expecting so why mention it in the report if nothing is found?

I use the gas detector only to pinpoint location of leaks to determine the issue.
In the USA we add a very powerful smell that is easy to detect.

With experience you will learn to tell the difference between sewer gas and Natural gas as they smell nothing alike.

Simply pulling it out of the case to randomly check pipes is pointless.

That being said the units make for a nice bells and whistle show if you have time for it.

I do not have time to pull every tool out of my bag at each inspection,nor the need.

TIF 8800 recommended by instructor for gas code in Ontario.
I guess the AHJ is a good enough example.

In Ontario an inspector can run into issues/troubles with TSSA. As stated earlier the AHJ - Authority Having Jurisdiction. As a former ethics chair dealing with complaint issues, several complaints were filed against inspectors for “overstepping” their duties, and stepping on the toes of the work of “licensed” professionals.

Simply my suggestion - report with caution.

One can report “suspect” issues, and make recommendations for further evaluation. But to go beyond that can be an issue - are you licensed for such or in a position as an expert to do so?

Just out of curiosity…in your opinion, what is the difference between methane coming from a sewer line and methane coming from a gas line?

They certainly smell different, since the methane in the gas line has an additive to give it the odor … while the methane gas from the sewer line is often mixed with deadly hydrogen sulfide which has a different odor.

Somehow, from your post, I am understanding you to suggest that one is dangerous and one is not. Am I misunderstanding you?

Good points James.
Let us see him weasel out this one.

Ever strike a match to sewer gas?

Methane is odourless.

I had a Tiff, and I got rid of it. I rely on my nose. Also pipe dope can set off Tiff due to chemical composition of the compound.

Over the years I have found many powervent hotwater tanks with loose exhaust at power vents.

It kills me when I go behind inspectors that do not use a moisture meter when water stains are present but they use a gas detector on every single fitting.

I was thinking along that line, however we could also create some work for a licenced professional if a suspected leak is found. Actually my gas fitters license expired in 1984. I wasn’t in the business any more and never kept it up.

Interesting post started by Karl.
Seems very unusual to locate or detect this many gas leaks during an inspection, but who knows.
As for using a gas leak detector, sensit, combustible gas monitor, etc; there are a number of issues in dealing with any of these items. First off, training and experience using these monitors or detectors is a must. Secondly, these meters or detectors must be bump tested and calibrated on a regular basis.
As for missing a gas leak, if you don’t smell natural gas, none of these meters/detectors will pick it up either (the leak). The odorant (mercaptan) is far more sensitive to the human nose than any of these meters or detectors. Also a meter, detector, etc is used to establish the possibility of a leak; another method (typically a water/soap solution) is used to pinpoint the exact location.
As for having a CO detector in the home (which is a must with fuel burning appliances), the CO detector is useless in regards to a gas leak.
As for the issues between sewer gas (H2S) and natural gas (methane), both are flammable. H2S (hydrogen sulfide) is also toxic (it has working levels, an IDLH, etc). Natural gas or methane is not toxic, but can displace oxygen under the right circumstances.

What the heck are you talking about?
I was replying to the original poster who said the following…

I* know that there are several home inspectors out in the field everyday that do not use gas detectors during inspections. It is my opinion that they may be missing gas leaks around gas appliances.

Are you using one?*

Gee I guess I am missing lots of gas leaks because I do not spend (waste ) time making ticking noises at every black pipe connection I find.:slight_smile:

Ridiculous waste of time.I need no dog and pony show with the detailed inspections I provide which last an average of 4 plus hours on site actually knowing what I am doing.

Using a Tiff at every single inspection is a newbie thing and I bet half of them turn it on in all electric households then right up false leaks from pipe dope.

Weasel out of what Mr Woods???

I was referring to this statement made by you…

What is the difference? Is it your opinion that one is safe and the other not?

What has your experience taught you about the difference between these two gases?

I genuinely do not get your point as to what is to be learned from this difference that your experience has taught you - and how the difference between their smells are relevant.

I get the fact that you don’t test for it and all that. Some do, some don’t. Who really cares?

What I am trying to understand is how the fact that one dangerous and combustible gas (methane from the gas company) does not smell like the other dangerous and combustible gas (methane and hydrogen sulfide from the sewer system) has anything to do with why one should (or should not) test for it.