Gas leaks that are ignored or unnoticed usually build up and explode into a fireball that can raze an entire apartment. Local fire departments responded to an average of 4,200 such home explosions per year that started with the ignition of natural gas or LPG. These fires caused an estimated 40 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries, and $54 million in direct property damage yearly.
Gas leaks and ignitions are caused primarily by three main factors, including degrading fittings between the gas line and household appliances, lack of proper appliance maintenance and appliance malfunctions. A professional gas leak detection contractor near you will not only fix these leaking points but help identify malfunctioning gas appliances that require maintenance or replacement. To be assured that you are hiring the right gas leak detection contractor nearby for the job, here are a few questions to ask:
Gas detection jobs are typically carried out by licensed plumbers. Except for New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming, and Nebraska, all states in the United States require a plumbing contractor or company to obtain a license before providing plumbing services. Even in areas where a state-level license is not required, a plumbing license may be mandatory to work in a county or city.
Typically, a plumber in gas line repair services will possess a master plumbing license or an advanced plumbing certification to signify experience and knowledge. Therefore request to see your gas leak detection contractor plumbing license before you agree on terms. You may also contact your local building authority, state licensing board, or your local consumer protection agency to find out the specific requirements for gas line plumbers in your jurisdiction.
Plumbers, including gas leak detection contractors, are as prone to occupational accidents as most workers in the construction industry. In 2019 alone, there were 33 fatal occupational injuries and 6,100 nonfatal occupational injuries among plumbers. Hence, hiring a gas leak detection contractor nearby who is properly insured helps protect both you and the contractor or a third-party from any financial liabilities if any injuries occur during a leakage detection job.
Before hiring any gas leak detection contractor near you, ask for proof that the contractor is insured and verify this by asking for a copy of the contractor's insurance certificate. A professional contractor should at least have both general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance.
While insurance covers financial liabilities that may be incurred during the gas leak detection work, bonding ensures that you are adequately compensated if the gas leak detection contractor does not complete the job or fulfill all contractual terms. Bonding requirements vary from state to state; hence, you may contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the details for your local area. It is also important to verify that the insurance and bonding terms cover any additional worker or apprentice that a contractor may hire to help complete the job.
Although there are different types of gas leaks, such as natural gas leaks, propane gas leaks, and carbon monoxide leaks, detection systems and techniques for all leak types are largely similar. Still, it is a good step to inform gas leak detection contractors you intend to hire what kind of gas leakage you are experiencing and whether they are versatile with handling such.
A gas leak in a small residential apartment may require only one professional to detect. However, larger apartments with multiple fittings may require a gas leak detection contractor to hire some apprentices to work on the job. It is good practice to ask the contractor after the completion of an initial assessment if additional apprentices or co-workers will be required to fix the gas leak and how many. Verify that each additional apprentice or co-worker is qualified, insured, and bonded before hiring the contractor.
Professional contractors near you will be willing to offer warranties on any repair works after detecting the source of the gas leak. However, you should not take it for granted to ask the contractor what is covered in the warranty and what events can trigger the terms of the warranty before agreeing to hire. While a written warranty is not mandatory by law and some contractors may offer a warranty in verbal terms, it is better to ask the contractor to state the terms of the warranty in writing. Getting warranties stated in writing will ensure that both parties are clear on the terms which can help forestall disagreements on the specifics of the work done in the future.
Some repair jobs after a gas leak detection may require permits depending on the extent of the repair. Typically, permits are required for any construction, renovation, or remodeling project that will result in a significant alteration of a building's structure or footprint. Minor repairs do not usually require permits. It is advisable to contact the local building department office near you to verify if a permit is required if you are not sure whether your repair qualifies as a major or minor one.
When a permit is required, a contractor cannot start working without one and the client can be burdened with a huge fine due to a code violation. To prevent such expenses, you should ask the contractor and confirm that the required permit to carry out a job in your area has been obtained.
One way contractors lend credence to their capabilities is by providing references even before clients ask. An experienced and skillful contractor has probably worked in multiple places with a trail of reviews that can be verified in-person and online. If you intend to hire a gas leak contractor who has yet to provide a reference of past jobs, do not hesitate to ask if they have handled a similar job for clients near you. You can verify clients’ reviews online through websites such as Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Google Reviews.
Some contractors present a contractor license when you ask them if they have obtained a business license. Although both are licenses, they serve different purposes. A contractor license shows that a contractor has obtained mastery of the skills required to operate professionally in a field, while a business license is proof that a contractor is permitted to operate as a business entity in a geographical area.
Ask if the gas leak detection contractor you intend to hire has a business license permitting them to handle gas leak detection issues in your area. You can verify the authenticity of the business license by contacting the Office of the Secretary of State where the detection is to be carried out.
Common causes of gas line leaks include:
- Everyday Appliances: Most homes have appliances that use natural gas or propane to generate heat, such as a stove, dryer, water heater, or fireplace. Over time, the seals that hold and connect the piping of these appliances can wear out and corrode. The corrosion can easily cause gas leaks.
- Poor Piping: Beneath most residential apartments lies a maze of intersecting pipes that bring gas into the pipe connectors of the appliances in those homes. With time, the pipes will wear out and disconnect. Poor piping is more common with older homes, which can allow gas to slowly leak into the homes
- Poor Ventilation: High levels of gas can be emitted from malfunctioning appliances that generate heat. Large home appliances such as heating systems can eliminate gas with an exhaust fan or chimney. However, if the exhaust fan becomes faulty or the chimney gets clogged, gas may fill up inside a home. Unfortunately, the gas is usually odorless and can be dangerous.
The cost of fixing a gas leak depends on the type of leak and the location. Gas leak detectors usually charge between $75 to $150 per hour; however, in some locations, the cost may be as little as $50 an hour or even up to $200 per hour. Some contractors have a two-hour minimum while others have a flat-rate minimum.
Replacing or repairing a gas line to a single appliance costs between $150 to $650 including labor and materials. Replacing a gas line running to a house costs between $3,000 to $7,000 with labor and materials.
Location and the kind of gas leak are important factors in determining the total cost of a gas leak detection job. Labor costs are more expensive in certain locations than in others. Replacement jobs are also more expensive than repair jobs after finding the source of the leak. For instance, if a gas furnace is required to be replaced after detecting a gas leak, it costs between $2,000 and $5,000, while gas water heaters' prices range between $400 and $2,000. Keep in mind that any sort of emergency will likely increase the price. Gas leak detection professionals also charge significantly higher to respond at weekends, nights, holidays, or on short notice. These emergency fees may be reduced by gas leak detection professionals near you due to proximity.
Many gas leak detection contractors begin by learning on the job through apprenticeships. Apprentices typically receive technical instructions and paid on-the-job training between 4-5 years. This technical education includes safety, local plumbing codes and regulations, and blueprint reading. After the completion of apprenticeship, the worker may seek to obtain a journey-level license.
The typical minimum requirement for obtaining a journeyman plumber license is a high school diploma or the GED equivalent. Many contractors add to their knowledge by attending vocational-technical schools and writing further exams to obtain a master plumbing license.
Whether detecting a leak, fixing the leak, or moving a gas line, it is important to hire professional and licensed contractors instead of any handyman near you. A handyman may possess the basic skills to detect significant leak points, however, smaller holes may go unnoticed for long periods. Professionals can afford the necessary tools and detection systems to reveal fault lines that may be hidden or difficult to trace. Hiring a handyman who may only be able to fix part of the gas leak points would only continue to wreak havoc on your energy bills and put your health at risk. When you hire a licensed gas leak detection contractor who is bonded and has adequate insurance, you can save yourself from any financial liabilities that may occur as a result of any work injury.
After finding the source of a gas leak and replacing any corroded or worn-out pipes or appliances, you may still need to spend some money and time on some post-project activities such as cleaning, waste disposal, and wall reconstruction and painting. Sometimes, while trying to locate the source of the leak, the workers may have to break some parts of the wall or building. This may leave dirt and debris which must be cleaned up after completing the job. Walls may need to be reconstructed or repaired to blend with the rest of the structure.
It is important you ask the contractor if there would be post-job expenses and who will be responsible for footing the bill for the expenses. Most contractors will include any post-job expenses in the initial bill submitted to you. However, you should ask ahead to be clear whether you will be charged separately for these expenses or not.
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers explosions caused by gas leaks. It also covers a gas leak that is due to a natural disaster such as a blizzard, lightning, or windstorm causing damage to an appliance or its gas line. Note that this insurance will not cover a gas leak caused by an aging appliance that was not properly maintained or a connection issue in an appliance that was improperly installed. You should always find out the perils that an insurance company covers before you purchase a homeowners’ insurance policy from them.
Yes, you can. Digital payment channels are typically safer, quicker, and more convenient to use than traditional payment methods. Many more people are increasingly performing a larger portion of transactions online due to physical restrictions placed to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, you should inform the contractor ahead that you intend to use digital channels to complete payment for the services to be provided before hiring. That way, you can make alternate plans should the contractor insist on traditional payment means. It is advisable to generate and keep receipts of digital payments for future purposes.