If you have propane appliances in your home, congratulations! You’re using a fuel with one of the best safety records around.
One of the reasons why propane is so safe is because there are many strict guidelines about how to use, deliver, and handle the fuel. Among the most important of these guidelines is the universal requirement to perform propane leak tests.
Why And When Propane Leak Tests Are Necessary
To understand when you have to perform a propane leak test, it’s important to understand why you need them.
A propane system connects your propane tank to appliances via a system of plumbing pipes, which are under constant pressure when the system is running; this pressure strains system pipe fittings and the compounds that seal them. As gas pressure rises and falls, pipes joints and seals weaken; over time, this could lead to a gas leak. A leak test checks the integrity of these joints and seals.
As for the “when” of the propane leak test, the law requires propane leak tests to be performed any time there is an interruption of service – that is, any time the flow of gas has stopped for any reason. According to NFPA 54 (2006), 8.2.3,
“Immediately after the gas is turned on into a new system or into a system that has been initially restored after an interruption of service, the piping system shall be tested for leakage. If leakage is indicated, the gas supply shall be shut off until the necessary repairs have been made.”
In the real world, this means that a leak test must be performed:
- Any time a new propane system is installed
- Any time you begin new propane service or change residence
- After an interruption of service for repairs, equipment shut-off/disconnect, etc.
- After a fuel runout
- If a leak is suspected
- If service has been suspended due to an unpaid account balance
If any of the above applies, then a leak/pressure test – performed by a licensed, qualified professional – is required before a propane delivery can be attempted.