Testing for gas leaks with a flame is not an 'old joke' - it was the
accepted method here right up to probably the 1970's. When I started
out in the building industry in the early 60's, no one had heard of
testing with soapy water and I found dozens if not hundreds of leaks
using a match with no ill effects. Of course, large and obvious gas
leaks were not tested for this way...
Testing for gas leaks with a flame may have been standard practice
at one time but the danger is still too high to think that is an
In 1975, I sat on a jury trial in which a house had blown up because
of a gas leak. (This matter took place in the 1960's or ealy 1970's,
and took forever to come to trial because the insurance companies
believed if they delayed long enough, the plaintiff, witnesses would
disappear or die or just plain give up.) As a Trial Clerk in the
state of Washington, I was responsible for taking brief minutes for
appelate purposes, for tracking and handling exhibits, and was also
responsible for the jury, among other duties. I had plenty of
opportunity to view the pictures of the destruction of that house,
and of the three other houses that had been destroyed by similar
explosions within a short time of each other. People died in several
of those explosions. I believe the women involved in this trial had
returned home and was entering her home at the time of the explosion.
She didn't remember anything after the explosion. Her hospital stay
was lenthy. I think she was lucky to have survived. The two story
house was kindling.
This explosions was a leak in her furnace system rather than a leak
in a fuel tank, but the destruction would be similar according to
local firemen who quake at the thought of a fuel tank in a burning
building. There is a reason that finding fuel leaks with a flame
became an unaccepted way to find leaks! How many more homes were
destroyed that did not make national headlines? These four homes
were on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.
I wish that I could relay the visual images that I have of the
destruction and victims. Those images will be with me forever and I
hope this message will remain with all users of fuel tanks. I am very
careful with my tanks! Our local welding supply store has a tank that
had exploded on display that makes a very good visual image to remind
us to be very careful. The tank is very thick metal, was blown open,
twisted and deformed as if is were foil manipulated in a child's
We need to be soberly serious when operating deadly weapons such as
fuel tanks. Good health to all! Kitti deLong, a lurker who usually is
weeks behind in reading email.