Suspect a gas leak on a home you would like to purchase? The best way for anybody (including a home inspector) to determine if a home has a gas leak is by using their nose. If you suspect that you have a gas leak, you can further confirm your finding if you hear a hiss or whistling noise. Even if you hear and smell the leak you still need to determine the source of the leak which will require the help of a professional. If the smell is strong enough, you need to get out of the house and alert the gas company. Something as simple as making a phone call from a landline or having the thermostat kick on can cause an explosion.
When you suspect a gas leak when looking at a house, the first thing to do is alert the homeowner. Many times, homes that are being sold are vacant and the homeowner may not even be aware that the house has a gas leak. Home inspectors run into these kinds of problems all the time on home inspections and are trained to find gas leaks and report their findings to the gas company.
The easiest (and low-tech) method home inspectors use to find a gas leak is to utilize the soapy water test. Basically, they take some soap and water, coat the pipes with the solution (especially the joints/connections) and look for the bubbles. While this is a good home remedy to determine source of the leak, it really is best to use some more modern tools to determine the specific source of the leak. A good home inspector should be equipped with gas leak detectors that will send visual alerts to pinpoint exactly where the piping needs repair.
At Old Line Home Inspections, we find gas leaks during inspections all the time and are trained to look for signs beyond sight and smell to determine the extent of the gas leaks we find. Homebuyers should trust their instincts, if you smell a leak you probably have one. Once the leak is suspected, the inspector just needs to locate the leak. Earlier this week, our client thought she smelled gas in the basement of a vacant home she wanted to purchase and alerted the gas company who came out and told her there was no problem. The attached picture is the gas detector I used to locate the gas leak and it clearly shows the location of the leak. As you can see the gas detector is lit up like a Christmas tree, no gray area there!