Keeping Your Air Conditioning Working All Summer Long

« Back to Home

How to Detect a Natural Gas Furnace Leak

Posted on

If you have natural gas, it is important you know how to detect a leak because of the risk of explosions. Natural gas is colorless and generally non-toxic, but it still could cause health symptoms in  people. Gas makers add mercaptan to natural gas to help identify gas leaks. You still want to be certain it is a gas leak. Here are tips to find a natural gas furnace leak.

Make Observations

If you think there is a gas leak, open the window. Don't smoke, make a call indoors, or turn on a switch that could spark an explosion. Send everyone out of the house while you do the test.

It may not be just the furnace leaking. Sniff the furnace area and other appliances that use natural gas.

A gas leak commonly smells like rotten eggs. It will get stronger as you come closer to the leak. Listen for hissing sounds around the suspected area.

Determine if the pilot is still lit. A faint smell commonly indicates the pilot is out. Modern appliances and furnaces have electric igniters.

If the pilot is still lit, observe the furnace flame with a flashlight. The flame should burn a steady blue. A flame that changes color indicates a valve leak. 

Inspect the Meter

Go outside and check the meter. Look for bubbling ground or damaged vegetation around it. If you suspect a leak at the meter, don't attempt to repair it yourself, but shut off the gas.  

Look for a pipe that goes from the ground to the meter. Use  an adjustable wrench to turn the valve one-quarter of a turn to shut off gas. The valve should be crosswise on the pipe. After you turn off the meter, don't turn it on yourself.

Do the Dish Soap Test

Sometimes, the connections aren't tight enough. The dish soap method is a common way to check gas valves. It is good to use when you don't hear anything that indicates a leak. You need dish soap, a spray bottle, and plumber's tape.

Combine a teaspoon of dish soap in a cup of water in a spray bottle and mist accessible pipes, the pilot tube, and the burner assembly connections. If the solution bubbles, it means the valve or connection is leaking. Apply the dish soap to connections on other suspected appliances.

Tighten the connection, and try the dish soap test again. If it still leaks, shut off the gas supply, and wrap plumber's tape to temporarily stop the leak. Repeat the dish soap test.

Don't stay in a home with a gas leak. Notify the National Emergency Gas Leak service. After you get things fixed, install a gas leak detector. Contact an HVAC service like No Nonsense Heating and Cooling to relight the pilot, and service the furnace.