This project shows how to check pipes for natural gas leaks with a spray-on gas leak detector. I installed a natural gas branch line and Burnaby gas outlet box on my wood deck for the BBQ grill. The house gas supply is turned back On and it’s necessary to check all pipe joints for gas leaks. This project is continued from How to Install a Burnaby Natural Gas Outlet.

Natural Gas Leak Detector

My local building inspector told me “the best leak detector is your nose” because natural gas smells like rotten eggs. I do give my pipe joints a sniff but a leak can be missed especially if there’s a draft or breeze.

I considered several types of gas leak detectors both electronic and foaming liquids. My concern about electronic gas leak detectors are:

  • May produce false alarms due to chemicals in the pipe thread sealant.
  • The really good ones are expensive and I couldn’t justify buying one.
  • Less expensive detectors give limited information about the extent of a gas leak, can take a while to warm up and/or produce a reliable reading.

Therefore I chose the Camco 10324 Gas Leak Detector 8 oz spray bottle which costs about $9. Just spray it on the pipe joint and bubbles should form within 5 seconds if there’s a leak. The bubbles will tell me exactly where and how much the joint is leaking gas. You can also try liquid dish soap and water but the Camco product is designed to flow evenly into tight connections. It’s non-corrosive, leaves no greasy residue and is non-flammable:

Camco 10324 Gas Leak Detector

Camco 10324 Gas Leak Detector

How to Check Pipes for Natural Gas Leaks

All pipe joints and fittings must be checked for natural gas leaks. Spray the Camco 10324 Gas Leak Detector on a joint and look closely around the joint for bubbles indicating a gas leak:

Spray Gas Leak Detector on Natural Gas Pipe Joints

Spray Gas Leak Detector on Natural Gas Pipe Joints

The Camco leak detector makes a foam containing small bubbles. This is normal. What you’re looking for are new bubbles caused by leaking gas. If you do find a leak, shutoff the gas, rework the joint and check again for leaks.

I watched the joint and no new bubbles appeared:

Camco Gas Leak Detector on Natural Gas Pipe Joint - No Leak Indicated

Camco Gas Leak Detector on Natural Gas Pipe Joint – No Leak Indicated

I worked my along the natural gas branch line checking each pipe joint for leaks:

Natural Gas Branch Line - Leak Detector Foaming Spray

Natural Gas Branch Line – Leak Detector Foaming Spray

The Camco leak detector worked well on the horizontal joints and slowly dripped off the bottom. No leaks here!

Camco Leak Detector on Natural Gas Pipe Joint - No Leaks

Camco Leak Detector on Natural Gas Pipe Joint – No Leaks

Sometimes you can’t get your eyes on the far side of a pipe joint and a small handheld or telescoping inspection mirror is needed.

This project is continued in Burnaby Natural Gas Outlet Final Installation Steps.

Be safe,

Bob Jackson

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