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Old 07-05-2010, 06:00 PM   #1
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Small underground propane leak, worth fixing?


I have a 50 foot long 1 1/4" underground gas line (iron pipe wrapped for underground use) running from my 500 gallon propane tank to a standby whole house generator and furnace ( both rarely used). The line is 7 years old, and 3 years ago I had several above ground fittings replaced due to leaking, so this line, which was installed by professional plumbers, hasn't been exactly trouble free.

Today while it was raining I noticed bubbles coming up through the ground over a small (2 square foot) area where grass refuses to grow. It's right over the propane line and I confirmed it was propane gas by lighting a couple of the bubbles once they had floated away a bit.

I turned off the gas to that line, and 5 hours later, there is still some bubbling, only less. The gas line according to my back of the napkin math holds just a few cents worth of propane at 10psi. So, for sure i think this is a less than $5/month problem.

I'm going on 5 months of unemployment and trying to decide how important this to fix, once I'm employed again (for now I'll just shut it off). My fear is that I spend a thousand dollars to have it repaired, it's no better than before because it just leaks in a different spot, so on and so forth....I may never live to be old enough to recoup the cost.

To visualize the bubbling, its about the amount you get from a crayfish that's under a rock, if any of you have went hunting those for fish bait before... I'll have a more precise idea of the leak rate once it stops bubbling but that may be late tonight.

Should I get this fixed?

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Last edited by Dave Carney; 07-05-2010 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:24 PM   #2
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Small underground propane leak, worth fixing?


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Should I get this fixed?
Is it worth your life?

Either shut off the valve at the tank or get it fixed. The gas can travel along the path of the pipe and enter your house or crawlspace. Then things can get real exciting if that gas accumulates somewhere and is ignited.

Your choice though.

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Old 07-05-2010, 06:51 PM   #3
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Small underground propane leak, worth fixing?


Yeah, it's not quite that bad but I get your point. The propane tank, and the leak, are at the bottom of a hill, the house is at the top of the hill. The propane has to go up 5 feet to get to house level. The wind blows constantly here and this line goes into the garage, and enters above ground, I'm guessing this thing has leaked since it was put in 7 years ago, which is why the grass won't grow right over it. The house has 3 propane detectors.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:56 PM   #4
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Small underground propane leak, worth fixing?


I have seen at least 2 house blown up from gas tracking the line into the house. Since they were on city gas, I believe the lines come above ground where the meter would be placed in the line yet they still blew up.

One of them blew up after the people noticed the gas smell and had evacuated the building. The other one, well, nobody really knows because the owner didn't survive.

This is not something to take lightly. While it may never present a serious problem, that one time is all it takes to ruin your day.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:59 PM   #5
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Small underground propane leak, worth fixing?


Gottcha. Will gitter done then after re-employment. Bubbling just now stopped so it's a 10 cent per day leak rate. I'll leave it off, only downside is the generator can't run on automatic. No biggie, will turn it on if I need it.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:03 PM   #6
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Small underground propane leak, worth fixing?


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Gottcha. Will gitter done then after re-employment. Bubbling just now stopped so it's a 10 cent per day leak rate. I'll leave it off, only downside is the generator can't run on automatic. No biggie, will turn it on if I need it.
sounds like the best that can be expected at the moment. Just be very aware of the possibility so you can act accordingly for a gas build up somewhere.

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