Average Costs, Safety Tips and Hiring a Professional
Gas leaks are almost always related to faulty, misused or improperly installed appliances. Old or broken appliances pose a risk, as do new appliances that were not professionally installed. Faulty or broken pipes and gas lines can cause a leak, too. But the most common cause is human error, such as leaving a stove on or moving a gas appliance without shutting off the connection.
Signs of a gas leak include:
- A sulfur or rotten egg smell
- A hissing, whistling or blowing sound near gas appliances or pipes
- Dead, dry or discolored grass and vegetation near the gas line
- Dirt or water being blown into the air near a gas line
- An exposed pipeline after a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake
- A fire or explosion near an appliance or pipeline
If you suspect a gas leak, call the gas company immediately. If the smell is strong, leave the house and call from a cell phone or neighbor’s house. To reduce the risk of explosion, do not turn on light switches or use any appliances.
The gas company technician, when he or she arrives, will shut off the gas supply for safety and determine the source of the leak. However, the gas company will not fix the problem – you’ll have to call in a plumber or HVAC professional for that.
The gas company will respond to you immediately and at no charge. Their job is to make sure you’re safe.
The price to fix the leak depends on the type of leak and your geographic location. Plumbers usually charge anywhere from $75 to $150 per hour, although in some areas you could pay as little as $50 an hour or as much as $200 an hour. Some plumbers have a two-hour minimum, while others have a flat-rate minimum.
Here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay for various repairs:
- Repairing or replacing a gas line to a single appliance usually costs anywhere from about $150 to $650. That includes labor and materials.
- Replacing the gas line running to the house costs $3,000 to $7,000 in most cases (labor and materials). Many people mistakenly think the gas company pays for this repair, but the homeowner is responsible.
- If the appliance itself is faulty, you’ll have to replace it. Gas furnaces cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, while gas water heaters usually run $400 to $2,000. Those prices do not include installation.
Keep in mind that any sort of emergency call with increase the price. Plumbers charge significantly more to respond at night, on weekends, on holidays or on short notice. Call the gas company ASAP to make sure you are safe, but wait until normal business hours to call a plumber if at all possible.
- Always leave the home immediately if you suspect a gas leak. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- If the gas company is unable to respond promptly, call the fire department. Firefighters are trained to respond to natural gas leaks.
- Never use any sort of appliance or electronic device if you suspect a gas leak – one spark can cause an explosion. This includes cell phones, garage doors, televisions and light switches.
- Never try to locate the source of the leak, shut off the gas supply or perform the repair yourself. Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous. Call in a trained professional.
- This probably goes without saying, but don’t smoke or light a match.
Finding a Professional
Repairing a gas leak is most certainly a job for a trained professional, but how do you know the person you call is truly qualified? Here are some tips:
- Only hire a licensed plumber or HVAC technician. Ask for proof that the person is licensed to work with natural gas lines, and check with your state’s licensing or plumbing board to make sure the license is active.
- Do some background research. Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. Ask for references – and be sure to check them. Make sure the company has a physical address and a website.
- Always seek multiple quotes to compare prices before hiring anyone. Throw out any bids that come in suspiciously high or low. Often, companies with unusually low bids are cutting corners, and that could compromise your safety.
- Consider hiring a plumber or HVAC professional who specializes in gas line repair. These professionals work with gas lines every day, so they know exactly what to do to keep you safe.
Author: Ashley Smith