A few months ago, I found a natural gas leak in my basement. While I watched my local gas company pull out and test my appliances and various gas lines in and around my house, I realized I could have taken some preventative measures. Because not all leaks are large enough to be detected by smell, it’s important to periodically test your restaurant equipment that is fueled by natural gas. The two most common ways to test for a leak is through a bubble test and using an electronic leak detector.
Bubble tests can be easily performed with a simple mixture of soap and water. You can also buy commercially prepared test solutions. These solutions can be more reliable since they’re designed to stick to your pipes and valves for easier detection. To use them, simply brush or spray the solution on the pipes, fittings and valves. If you have a gas leak, the solution will bubble at the site of the leak.
An inexpensive electronic leak detector can be found at any hardware store. Even the tiniest leak will set off the audio alarms. They are simple to use, often just require batteries for operation.
Where to Check for Leaks
Prior to beginning any test, turn off the gas at the shut-off valve and then burn off any gas remaining in the stove. Start by testing the flex pipe that connects your range to the cut-off valve. Keep in mind that older ranges are more prone to flex pipe leaks. Also, thoroughly check the cut-off valve itself.
Check all the individual control valves for the top burners, oven and broiler. Check the oven/broiler’s thermostatically controlled valve and all the internal pipe connections. Finally, check the pilot light connections if your range has the older pilot light systems.
What to Do if You Find a Leak
If the leak is coming from the cut-off valve itself or coming from around the valve’s shaft, call in a professional to replace the valve. Replacing a leaking flex pipe, burner-control valves, oven thermostatic control valve or internal piping can be done easily. Contact your range manufacturer for parts and instructions. Burkett Restaurant Equipment houses numerous owners and installation manuals for a range of products.