4 Commonly Confused Propane Safety Terms

What is the difference between a leak check, pressure test, leak test, and GAS Check??

1. Leak Check

An operation performed on a gas piping system to verify that the system does not leak.

2. Pressure Test

An operation performed to verify the gastight integrity of gas piping following its installation or modification.

3. GAS Check?

A voluntary inspection program developed by PERC together with the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) that provides guidelines to technicians on how to perform two important types of residential safety inspections:

  • A “Gas System Check” of the gas delivery system, including containers, regulators, and appurtenances.
  • A “Gas Appliance System Check” of both the gas delivery system and all propane-burning appliances.

Launched in 1985, GAS Check signified the beginning of an industry-wide effort to help reduce residential accidents involving propane. Developed by a team of industry volunteers, the revised GAS Check Inspection Program responds to changes in the propane industry and appliances.

4. Leak Test

There are three ways to perform a leak test: a Sniff Test, a Bubble Test, or with propane gas detectors.

  • Sniff TestSince propane gas is heavier than air it will accumulate in lower areas. This is when using a Sniff Test is handy. To do so, follow these steps:
    1. Get on your hands and knees, sniffing close to the floor for the smell of propane.
    2. If you do smell propane, DO NOT light a match.
    3. Follow the Emergency Procedures at the end of this report. This should also be placed on or around your propane appliance.
  • Bubble TestUsing the Bubble Test, you can check for leaks using either a leak detector solution or thick soapy water applied to all of your propane appliance?s connections. You can find this solution at your local propane dealer. This test should be done whenever installing or filling your tanks/cylinders or whenever a leak is suspected.
    1. Apply the leak detector solution or thick soapy water to the connections between the cylinder valve, the regulator outlet, and wherever else you suspect leakage.
    2. Slowly open the tank or cylinder valve and watch for bubbles.
    3. If you do see bubbles, close the tank or cylinder valve and tighten connections immediately (do not over tighten).
    4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 until the bubbles stop.
  • Propane Gas DetectorsThe National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and federal and state agencies in charge of propane safety regulation recognize that odorants are not always reliable in terms of leak detection awareness. It is possible that leaks will not always be detected by smell. We recommend installing gas detectors listed by Underwriter Laboratories (UL) and other reliable companies as further protection toward leak detection.

Emergency Procedures:

  1. All flames and smoking materials should be extinguished immediately.
    Do NOT use any electric switches.
    Do NOT light matches or lighters.
    Do NOT use your phone.
    Gas may be ignited by any spark or flame if propane is present (e.g., light switches, telephones, fans, refrigerator motors, flames, and static electricity).
  2. Evacuate the building, vehicle, trailer, or area IMMEDIATELY.
  3. Be sure that all gas tanks or cylinder supply valves are closed.
  4. Go to your neighbor?s house and call a propane service company and the fire department. Do NOT enter the building until it?s advised by the fire department and propane dealer that it is safe.
  5. The fire department or propane service person should be the only one checking for gas. They will air out the area so it?s safe for you to return.
  6. Have your propane service person preform any tasks such as repairing the leak, checking the pressure of the system, checking and turning on the gas appliances, and relighting pilots.
  7. Only re-enter when the service person or fire department advises that it?s safe.

Learn more about leak checks in our next communication:
Important Propane Safety Information ? Four Things You Need to Know about a Leak Check