Elgas LPG Gas Blog

Soapy Water Leak Test: How Do You Check for Gas Cylinder Leaks, How to Detect a Gas Leak in Your Home

It is important to know how do you check for gas cylinder leaks and regularly leak test your BBQ gas bottle (LPG gas cylinder), regulator and hose using the soap bubble test for gas leak.  

Leaks from these items are frequently the cause of BBQ gas fires. 

How Do You Check for Gas Cylinder Leaks & for Natural Gas Leaks? Soapy Water Leak Test

It is important to how do you check for gas cylinder leaks and for natural gas. One of the safest ways is something commonly called the "soapy water leak test" or soap bubble test for gas leak.

The soapy water leak test allows you to search for telltale bubbles that are indicative of LPG or Natural Gas leakage.

In this very simple test, you just coat all of the gas transmission gear (pipes, hoses, valves, etc.) with soapy water and then pressurise the system.

If you see bubbles, you know you have a leak.

This quick 60 second video shows how to perform the soap bubble test for gas leak - soapy water leak test:

How to Do Soapy Water Leak Test - How to Detect a Gas Leak in Your Home

BBQ Gas Leak Test

♦ To detect a gas leak in your home, start by putting some soapy water in a spray bottle or a dish.  

♦ Turn on the LPG gas bottle without turning on the BBQ.  This pressurises the system.  

♦ Next, spray the entire valve, regulator and hose assembly with the soapy water.  

♦ Alternatively, you can apply the soapy water with a paint brush, basting brush or it can even be sponged on.  

♦ Soap bubbles will form if there is a gas leak and you may also smell the gas. 

♦ You need to test the entire assembly from the gas bottle valve all the way to where the gas hose attaches to the BBQ.  

♦ When done, rinse with clean water to remove the soap solution.

♦ Remember to always soapy water leak test the lot every time you re-connect your gas bottle.

If you find a leak, turn off the gas bottle immediately!  

Do not turn back on or attempt to use the BBQ until the problem is rectified.

How Do You Check for Gas Cylinder Leaks - Common Problem Areas

Most Likely Leak Areas

How Do You Check for Gas Cylinder Leaks

To check for gas cylinder leaks perform the soapy water leak test around the valve and connections. You use the same test to detect a gas leak in your home and how you check for gas cylinder leaks. Poor connection to the gas cylinder is the most frequent cause for gas cylinder leakage.

In many cases, the main connection is just not sufficiently tightened. Dirt or damage to the connectors are also common causes of leaks.

Main Connection

Main Connection

The standard BBQ gas regulator in Australia is a POL gas regulator. 

The male connector of the gas regulator, which screws into the POL gas valve on your gas bottle, may have a rubber O-ring seal or it may rely on a metal to metal contact seal.  

You should always inspect the regulator for damage, paying special attention to the connector, which screws into the gas bottle.  

If it has a rubber O-ring, it also needs to be undamaged.

The connector and the female valve opening should both be clean and undamaged. 
Pieces of dirt, nicks and scratches can prevent the two components from sealing, resulting in a leak.  

Gas Hose

BBQ hose & regulatorThe gas hose is attached to the regulator on one end and the BBQ on the other end. 
It can become damaged or deteriorate with age.  
Dogs and other animals can also cause damage by chewing on the dangling hose.  
Visually inspect the hose for cracking, splitting or other damage.  
You should replace the hose if it shows any signs of damage or degradation.  
It is good practice to replace the entire regulator and hose assembly, if it is old enough for the hose to have deteriorated, as regulators also wear with age. 

Valve Stem

Valve Stem

In Australia, BBQ gas bottles must be tested every ten years.  

The gas valve is changed upon inspection and the valves are expected to last for the full ten years.  

However, occasionally the valve will fail prematurely and start leaking from around the valve stem.  This is rare but it can happen.  

Please see Gas Bottle-Cylinder Testing Facts for more information on the ten year testing process.

Bleed Screw

Bleed Screw

The bleed screw is a small slotted screw on the side of the valve that lets gas vapour bleed off during the decanting refill process.

The refill technician opens it during the filling process and closes it, when done.  

The screw can develop a slow leak if it becomes loose.

When to Test

The BBQ gas bottle, regulator & hose assembly should be checked using the soapy water leak test every time you reconnect your regulator to the BBQ gas bottle. 

You should also soapy water leak test after any long period of non-use, such as at the beginning of BBQ season.

Soapy Water Solution For Soapy Water Leak Test

Soapy Water Solution

You will need a soapy water solution to do the soapy water leak test. 

Mixing liquid hand soap with water should work fine.  Place the solution in a liquid spray bottle.  

It’s a good idea to leave the spray bottle with the BBQ, so it’s always a handy reminder to perform the soapy water leak test.

No Ammonia

Your BBQ valve and fittings are made from brass.  
You must never use any soapy water leak test solution that contains ammonia, when you do your testing. 
Ammonia can cause brass to become brittle and crack. 
Be aware that ammonia is found in many pre-prepared glass and surface cleaners, so make sure you read the label before use.

Extra Safety Tip

DO NOT leave 9kg gas bottles in enclose vehicle unnecessarilyThe best practice gas safety advice is that gas bottles should only be in a vehicle for the minimum required transport time. 

When you do transport a gas bottle, you should consider one added precaution. 

After making sure that the valve is firmly closed, you should soapy water leak test the entire valve assembly to check for any possible leaks, prior to transport.

 DO NOT leave BBQ bottles in enclose vehicle unnecessarily.

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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.