You want to be the handiest man around the house you can be: significant others love that! But a gas leak repair, especially a natural gas leak somewhere in the house, is something best left to the professionals, with few exceptions. That doesn't mean you sit, wringing your hands and waiting for the gas leakpro to show up; there are several steps to insure the safety of your home and its occupants. Prior to noting evidence of any leak, you should inspect all (readily available) connections in your home for appliances that use natural gas, such as the stove or barbecue grill.
A gas leak detector is a great tool to have handy, but its not usually standard equipment unless youre a real home-repair enthusiast. You can still detect an internal leak: there will be an odor of rotten eggs. That, by the way, is not the smell of the gas, since natural gas has no odor; gas companies added the odor for safety and easier detection.
An external leak will mean a ruptured gas line; this is evidenced (outside the house) by a hissing sound (hopefully it doesnt occur when youre digging out there; if it does, you just created the rupture yourself) and dirt spewing from the ground.
If there is a leak, you should turn off the gas, naturally, but do not panic; even if odor is detectable, you still have time to determine where it is. Mix together, 50/50, dishwasher fluid and water, and apply it to the connections where you smell the leak. The bubbles will show you where the leak is; mark the spot (with electrical tape) and go turn the gas main off.
The gas main is usually located at or near the meter; there is a shutoff valve or handle that operates to turn off the gas supply.
If the bubbles showing the leak occur in the connections between tube and tank, this is the only time you can do the gas leak repair yourselfmanually tighten (with socket wrenches) the connection and see if the problem is solved.
If the odor continues, its time to evacuate the house of all family members and pets, and to call the plumber or gas company; theyve got the professional know-how to repair and replace connections and tubing. Make sure you use no appliances and light no matches; the tiniest spark can set off the gas. Do not even operate a cell phone near the leak; evacuation should be the first step.
As you leave, you can open windows and, if you have screens, the doors of the house. However, ventilating is not top priority if the gas leak is extensive; just get out of the house! You should always wait outside the home for the emergency professional, since carbon monoxide poisoning is one form of asphyxiation where the victim isnt aware he is about to succumb until its too late (there are always news stories of families who died in their sleep from a natural gas leak in the house).
In case of a large leak or fire, call 911 as you evacuate the home, and keep everyone at a safe distance. The fire department will cap the leaking connection and ventilate your home when the leak is contained.
What will gas leak repair cost? Theres no easy ball park figure for thisa simple repair such as a flex gas line connector (most water heaters use these) may be as little as $50; hard pipe leakage underground could be $500 and more.
There is one bright spot: a leak found external to your property will be paid for by the gas company (under the National Gas Emergency Service provision). Inside your home, its your responsibility.