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Thread: Do cheap natural gas leak sniffers work?

  1. #1
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    Do cheap natural gas leak sniffers work?

    I just put in a new gas fireplace burner and log set. My family says there is a smell. The manual says that the logs will offgas until after a burn in period of about 6 hours. Iím running the logs on low and they have run for 10 or 12 hours. And, I donít think the smell is natural gas.

    so, my wife wants me to buy a cheap natural gas sniffer on amazon. My question is whether they work.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    I just put in a new gas fireplace burner and log set. My family says there is a smell. The manual says that the logs will offgas until after a burn in period of about 6 hours. Iím running the logs on low and they have run for 10 or 12 hours. And, I donít think the smell is natural gas.

    so, my wife wants me to buy a cheap natural gas sniffer on amazon. My question is whether they work.
    Sometimes, the smell can be caused by an improperly adjusted air valve on the burner. When everything else fails, read the manual

  3. #3
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    Is it vented? Some of them are not.

  4. #4
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    Yes, natural gas leak detectors work.

  5. #5
    Natural gas detectors work, but, like everything else the good ones are expensive and the cheap ones are not something to bet your life on and that is exactly what you might be doing. I would suggest you turn the gas off at the source, or their should be a shutoff valve in the back of the fireplace. Cut it off and leave it off for a day or so and see if the smell goes away. Turn it back on and if the smell returns you got a leak that needs to be addressed. By any chance is it plumbed with CSST {corrugated stainless steel tubing}??? That is usually wrapped in yellow plastic. I ask because I have had considerable trouble with CSST having little tiny pin holes in the tubing itself. They are so small that unless it has been on a few days and/or it is in a tight location you will only pick up a very faint smell. Really it is best to have the gas company check it and make sure it is okay...you can be playing with a bomb there. To say the fireplace can "outgas" is like saying it will leak some...that is not right. You should not smell unburned gas with any appliance.

  6. #6
    Around here, if you call the gas company and tell them you think you smell gas, they will have somebody there with a leak detector pretty quick.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  7. #7
    soapy water applied to all gas connections and the regulator will find any leaks...Hardest to find gas leak I ever had turned out to be a hairline crack in a black pipe elbow. It barely even made a bubble with the soapy water, but plenty of that awful smell got out...

    do you have a propane torch? Open it and smell-- if what you're smelling around the fireplace smells anything like the propane, it's likely natural gas. Usually NG smells worse, more putrid.

    I've installed many a gas log, stove, wall fireplace, and several times there was a smell-- it was ALWAYS gas. I've never had gas logs smell. And most 'break in' heat related smells simply smell 'hot' to me. Gas smells like sulfur, rotten eggs, sewage even...


  8. #8
    Most NG is delivered (at 38 to 40 PSI in some rare situations +++70 psi) after the meter, this gets water down into water column. For example, I have a 3/8 pipe feeding my meter. After my metre I have 1.5 inch pipe. On a good day, I have 8 inch water column pressure. Most interior pipes are tested to 20 psi for leaks. One of my buildings was pressure tested to 15 psi for one hour to grant certification.

    1 Water column and 1 psi is a huge difference.

    Yeah, most cheap sniffers work in parts/million specified. ButÖ Unburnt fuel it is ordered. This can be picked up by the human nose (or with pressure testing techniques). The burnt fuel can be picked up by most carbon monoxide detectors in the parts per million too.
    Last edited by Matt Mattingley; 01-30-2019 at 1:21 AM.

  9. #9
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    I see that I neglected to include some pertinent information.

    the system is ventless.
    we only smell something in the upstairs hallway. The system is located on the first floor.
    the outgassing in the manual refers to the curing of the paint on the logs.
    we only smell something if the system is running

    so I think I can rule out the plumbing to the unit.

  10. #10
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    I would sometimes smell gas when I walked into my sisters house so I bought a $50 gas leak detector on Amazon and headed for the basement. I found 3 leaks for the plumber to fix.

  11. #11
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    Just finished adding a bunch of black iron pipe to my son's home for future gas connections (BBQ, future outbuilding, garage). Tested everything with a small spray bottle filled with dish soap and water. No leaks no smell. Had a smell like a dead mouse in my RV once, turned out to be a stove burner was left on very low, no ignition. Always thought propane smelled like rotten eggs. Not so. Varies by supplier. Ventless heat always makes me nervous. Shouldn't I guess as our gas stove is ventless.
    NOW you tell me...

  12. #12
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    You always have the option of having someone from the utility stop by to help you check...they have "good" detectors and in the interest of safety don't usually charge for that kind of visit. I've used that service with PECO (our local utility here in SE PA) previously after an appliance installation and the man was more than happy to check pretty much all of the other gas points of presence in our home during that same visit.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
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    Turns out that Iím too honest. I called the utility and Iím on my own. I narrowed it down to the logs and only when they are burning. If I had played dumb and just said, ďI smell gasĒ, they would have come out.

    i ordered a well reviewed detector. Iíll test it with the gas stove. I think I can get it to put out some gas without lighting.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Feeley View Post
    I see that I neglected to include some pertinent information.

    the system is ventless.
    Get rid of it! Ventless units are not worth the trouble they can cause.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    Around here, if you call the gas company and tell them you think you smell gas, they will have somebody there with a leak detector pretty quick.

    Mike
    Most gas companies will dash to your house if you report smelling gas.

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