Do Home Inspectors Check for Gas Leaks?

I returned a call to a real estate agent a while ago regarding a statement allegedly made by someone from the utility company stating the home inspector should have found gas leaks.

“If” the statement was made, it was made by someone who does not know the Standards of Practice for Home Inspectors and does not know that Home Inspectors are not qualified to check for gas leaks any more than the average homeowner.

Checking appliances and checking for gas leaks is beyond the Standards of Practice scope of a Home Inspection.
SPS 131.32 (8) (b) 4

A reasonably competent and diligent home inspection is not required to be technically exhaustive.
SPS 131.31 (1)

It basically means that using meters is beyond the scope of a home inspection.

LEAKAGE ALLOWANCES: The AGA and ANSI STANDARDS allow for 200 cubic centimeter per hour of external gas leakage when pressure of 3/4 PSI is supplied to the gas control valve. These standards also allow 234 cubic centimeters per hour of leakage at 1/4 PSI, through the gas control valve to the main or pilot burners with the gas control valve turned off. (See AGA STANDARD Z21.21) This basically means that some home inspectors using meters are calling out for gas leaks that are within AGA & ANSI standards. It is not unusual to replace a leaky gas valve with another leaky gas valve that is in compliance within these standards. This is why the smell test for mercaptan (rotten eggs) is the best defense we all have other than contacting the gas company or a qualified professional for regular testing.

Per the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

What to do IF YOU SMELL GAS OR SUSPECT A GAS LEAK:

  • Leave the house immediately.
  • Don’t use your phone or cell phone; call the local utility from outside the dwelling or ask a neighbor to notify the utility call center operator for assistance from the adjacent home.
  • Don’t light a match.
  • Don’t turn on or off a light.
  • Don’t switch on or off anything electrical.
  • Don’t send a text.

AGA.org Safety Instructions (PDF)

Checking gas lines for leaks should be performed by a “Qualified” professional; someone who is properly trained to provide this service.

Home Inspectors are general practitioners, not trained licensed heating, electrical, plumbing specialists.

If there is a gas smell at the time of the inspection, a home inspector should advise having the gas lines checked by a “Qualified” specialist.

WE Energies states:
Natural gas is colorless and odorless until we add mercaptan, an odor similar to sulfur / rotten eggs, which helps you detect leaks. If you smell natural gas or have a natural gas emergency:

  • Leave immediately – do not turn on light switches or use phones.
  • Call 800-261-5325 from another location.

Anyone can buy a gas leak detector and wave it around stating that the house was checked. If that was done by a home inspector who was not specifically trained and licensed to perform gas leak detection with properly calibrated equipment, you are typically given a false sense of security.

I hope this information helps.
Donn Anderson