Monday, January 17, 2011

Propane leak

There's a propane leak somewhere in my basement. I haven't bothered with it in over a week as it's a low priority.

My friend is putting in a tankless propane water heater. At one time I heated my water with propane but now I don't. To save my buddy a few bucks, I removed the old shut off valve and gave it to him. With all the jostling around with the pipes, there's a small propane leak, probably at one of the pipe joints. As soon as the leak was discovered, I shut the propane off at the tank.

That's where the situation currently stands. Finding the leak shouldn't be too hard. Spraying soapy water around the joints usually works. Bubbles form at the leak. Do not check for leaks with a cigarette lighter. Believe it or not, there's a local guy who did just that. Yeah, he found the leak, and blew the house off its foundation. The idiot is lucky to be alive.

Right now the only things that run on propane are a clothes dryer and a couple burners on the stove. The stove is an old wood/propane stove. There were a number of multi-fuel stoves built back when people were moving away from cooking with wood. Besides the two propane burners, the oven could run on propane or wood. Of course, right now its just a woodstove.

We used the dryer very little. In the summer, there's a nice clothesline. In the winter, we've an indoor clothesline near the woodstove and a wooden drying rack. As for cooking, the woodstove works just fine. The only inconvenience is that it takes a little while to get it up to temperature first thing in the morning. That does delay the morning coffee a bit. I could get a cheap electric coffee maker, but that would be one more thing taking up space on the counter.

The nice thing about the kitchen stove is that we always have a big kettle of water heating on it. The second pot of coffee later in the day takes very little time as the water is already hot. There's hot water for tea, coco, or making pasta. It also works as low tech humidifier.

I'll get around to fixing the leak. Might as well use up the rest of the propane in the tank. The plan has been to eventually phase out propane completely. By the lack of inconvenience caused by this unplanned shutdown, we seem to be well on our way.



  1. Just curious. Propane is heavier than air. So propane leaking in the basement will accumulate in the basement. Once a certain concentration of propane is reached it has the potential to ignite even explosively. As you said, the local guy blew up his house, that takes a concentration of propane not just a leak. So why is the leak low priority?

  2. Might be the perfect time to do away with the propane. Sounds to me like you already have a plan!

    Nothing like watching a plan come together!

  3. Anon- low priority as the gas is shut off completely. Basement is built into a hillside. Basement door is at ground level. Leaving it open quickly cleared out what little propane had leaked into the house.

  4. I see you got it under control. Shut it off and worry about when you get back from Florida. OH yea, when are you going to Florida to do all that sailing?

  5. Still on track for the first week of Feb.

  6. It's always good to have a backup plan.