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Gas leak detection

I suspected I had a gas leak so called a local plumbing company. Couple of lads arrived and did the spraying with soapy water method. Nothing. They then said they needed to do a bubble test on the gas metre which they did and said there is definitely a leak and I need to replace the cooktop and they then charged me $474! I asked them to quote on installing the cooktop and they quoted $900-$1000 which is when alarm bells rang. I have subsequently arranged installation at $320!! Has anyone else had this bubble test done and how much did it cost. I have a feeling I have been horribly ripped off, especially when I found out you can tell is your gas is leaking if the flame staying orange, which mine does.

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While this is USA style you could probably find something similar here.

Orange flame I am not sure is always a sign of a leak it may be a sign your fittings (burners and jets) may need cleaning or replacing

https://www.hunker.com/12003355/why-is-my-gas-stove-burning-orange

I don’t suggest following self adjustment on gas mix as advised in the second article in fact I strongly suggest you don’t but a skilled gas fitter should be able to safely do this if needed.

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Maybe this will help you?? I did a bit of digging around: found a (hard wired) gas detector at Bunnings, and a couple of other cheap detectors on eBay - plug in sensors, but an adaptor would be required for Oz power points.
Nothing to Australian Standards that I could find, without paying $$$$…
I think I might get one of these myself - and only insert batteries as required!

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An easy way, if you can read gas meters, to check if there is an upstream leak within a house is to read the gas meter.

Most gas retailers or gas network operators have information on their websites on how to read their particular meters.

For this test, one would need to be able to not use any gas appliances during the test. Wait a few days (week of more is preferrable such as when one is on holidays)…and then do another meter reading.

Gas meters are reasonably sensitive to gas use and if there is a significantl leak, the gas reading should go up. This will let one know that there is leak somewhere upstream of the meter.

Note, this test will not identify leaks say between an on/off valve on a gas stove to the burner…but will indicate any fugitive leaks in the gas pipework or through faulty shut off values (such as cooktop valves leaking gas when in the off position).

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Hi Christine, it’s great that you called on a professional to look at your concerns. Not so great how you appear to have been treated!

I’m a little perplexed by the circumstances as described. I would suggest several of the responses provided to you by @grahroll are similar to my concerns.

As you referred to a gas meter, it would appear you are connect to reticulated natural gas.

Two things to note. Natural gas is principally methane gas, which is lighter than air. Any leaks will tend to float upwards, hence in a closed room the gas will accumulate near the ceiling. Secondly most of us humans are extremely sensitive to the odour added to the gas. Even a very minor leak produces a very noticeable revolting scent. Some basic independent advice on gas safety and state level licensing.

I’m somewhat amazed at how high a fee the licensed gas fitter (one should have been sufficient) charged to check for a gas leak. From what you have said it is unclear where the gas leak is. Is there a leaky control valve on the cooktop? The gas fitter who inspected should have advised where the leak was and assessed whether it was safe to continue using the cook top, or turned the gas off for safety. Assume this was also done?

As @grahroll suggested a dull or discoloured burner flame is not a reliable sign of a leak. It is typically a sign of a corroded burner, or dirty/blocked gas jet/nozzle. If there is a leak in the household gas system sufficient to affect the cooktop the leaking gas smell would be overwhelming and widespread around the property. It’s unlikely though to cause a yellow flame which is more indicative of an air fuel ratio imbalance.

A caution with respect to handheld gas leak detectors. The soapy water test is much more effective at identifying slow leaks from the gas piping and fittings than any low cost meter. For hidden leaks the hand held detectors (electronic or chemical sensor tubes) may not reliably detect leaks below a minimum threshold. At a guess the gas fitter was able to observe your household meter slowly ticking over despite your gas appliance/s being turned off. Something @phb has already suggested you can do yourself. Although the sniff test should be enough to let you know there is a serious problem.

The one big warning might be noticing a gas smell at the door of a closed up house or room after being out for a while. In which instance the room is likely very full of gas. Simply turning a light on or any other source of spark or flame in that circumstance can be enough to initiate a fire or gas explosion.

P.s.
I paid for a gas fitter to remove our gas stove to enable a kitchen upgrade. The gas fitter returned and reinstalled and reconnected the stove on a second visit. This included rechecking the gas fittings for leaks (soapy water test) and verifying correct operation. The cost was $220 some time back. More recently at another property we needed a gas test compliance certificate when the bottled gas supplier was changed. This included a leak check, replacement of the pressure reducer at the bottles, and check plus adjustment of each burner on the cook top. It was less than $300 including parts.

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Thanks. My issue is more the charge to confirm I had a leak which has been confirmed was excessive. Appreciate your response.

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Thanks.

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Thanks everyone, appreciate your responses. I won’t be using Aussie Services again! While the service was very prompt (no wonder) the cost to do the bubble test at the meter was exorbitant. My mistake. Switched to a local guy, a fraction of the price, new cooktop installed, happy again.

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