Having a gas grill means you’re never more than a quick push of a button or twist of a knob away from a great day of grilling (that is, as long as you’ve remembered to check your propane supply).
But the convenience and ease of use gas grills provide also means that your grill’s gas supply could occasionally spring a leak. And a gas leak is something all outdoor grilling enthusiasts need to take seriously and understand how to identify should they pop up.
While the gas leak testing process is one you should not take lightly — gas leaks can lead to fires and explosions, it’s actually more straightforward than you may think. And all you need is a few household items!
In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about testing your grill for a gas leak. From when you should test to the process you’ll need to safely and adequately check your grill for leaks.
We’ll also tackle common questions we get about testing for gas leaks, from what you should do if you smell something unpleasant while grilling to what can happen if you ignore a suspected leak.
Most importantly, we’re not here to scare you — we’re here to guide you through testing for gas leaks so you can grill confidently, knowing both you and your home are safe from the risks gas leaks can pose.
Table of Contents
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Signs That Your Grill May Have a Gas Leak
The number one sign that your grill may have a leak is if you smell something similar to rotten eggs or a skunk.
Propane and natural gas on their own don’t have much of a smell, but manufacturers add unpleasant artificial odors to help warn people if their tank, gas supply, or grill has sprung a leak.
Other signs that your grill may have a gas leak include using up propane faster than you usually do despite not grilling more, your grill having a smaller, weaker flame than usual, or your grill simply not working as well as it usually does.
When to Check Your Grill for Gas Leaks
There are several times when you should check your grill for gas leaks to make sure it’s always functioning properly and safe to use.
We recommend checking for leaks:
- Before you light your grill for the first time, especially if it came pre-assembled
- Every time you replace or refill your propane tank
- Every time you replace any of the gas components
- At the start of every grilling season
- At least once during your grilling season
- After you’ve had the grill in storage or not used it for a while
- If the regulator Flow Limiting Device has been activated
- If your grill is hard to light
- If you smell gas, or something similar to rotten eggs or a skunk
- If your grill is performing poorly or irregularly
Lastly, if it seems you are burning through propane faster than normal, it is a good idea to check for a gas leak.
What You Will Need & How to Prepare Your Leak Test Mixture
To test your grill for leaks, you’ll need to gather a few supplies and prepare what’s known as a leak test mixture.
First, grab a spray bottle or a clean paintbrush, as well as liquid dish soap. The dish soap is a critical component of your leak test mixture since it will bubble up to help you identify any leaks.
The leak test mixture is easy to prepare: just fill your spray bottle or another container halfway with water and half with dish soap, then stir it up, and you’re ready to go.
What Not to Use When Checking Your Grill for a Gas Leak
Do not use soap or cleaning agents in your leak test mixture that contains ammonia!
There’s a good chance important parts of your grill are made from brass, and when you add ammonia to the mix, that brass can become brittle and crack.
Many common surface and glass cleaners contain ammonia, so it’s best to avoid these and use liquid dish soap (but still read the ingredients just to be sure).
Common Problem Areas: What Components to Check
There are a few common problem areas on grills that are more leak-prone than others, so these will be the first ones you’ll want to check.
These problem areas include all propane tank or cylinder welds, connections, and the handwheel; the regulator and propane cylinder connection; and all hoses and connections between the manifold, side burner, and propane cylinder.
If you have a natural gas grill, you’ll want to take a look at the gas hose and connections.
How to Test Your Grill for A Gas Leak
To test your grill for a gas leak, first, make sure all of the control knobs are turned off and the lid is open.
And this probably sounds like common sense, but it’s important to mention anyway: as you go through the gas leak testing process, but sure to avoid smoking, lighting candles, or anything else that could pose a risk of igniting the gas if there is indeed a leak.
Even things like light switches, other appliances, or a cell phone could give off enough of a spark to ignite leaking gas, so avoid using them during this process as well!
Perform a Visual Inspection First
Before you break out your leak test mixture, perform a visual inspection of your hoses, keeping an eye out for things like cracking, holes, tears, or other abrasions.
Double-check that the hoses are tightly connected, and make sure there are no kinks or sharp bends in the gas line.
If you have a propane grill, inspect your tank for any rust, bulges, corrosion, dents, punctures, or any other signs that the tank or cylinder is damaged.
Perform the Gas Leak Test
Next, grab your 50/50 mix of dish soap and water and a brush if it isn’t in a spray bottle, and apply it to the gas hose, all of the connection points, propane tank welds and handwheel, the regular and propane connection, and the side burner.
Turn on your natural gas valve or open your propane tank with one turn of the knob, depending on which type of grill you have. Be sure to keep the grill control knobs turned off during this step.
Find the Bubbles, Find the Gas Leak
Look at all of the places where you put the soapy leak test mixture — if you see bubbles forming, that’s a clear sign that there’s a gas leak at that point. The soapy mixture should immediately bubble up noticeably.
The soapy leak test is a super easy method to check for dangerous gas leaks.
What to Do if You Find a Gas Leak on Your Grill
If you do see bubbles, shut off your gas flow immediately. If you’re not able to do this (for example, if your propane tank’s handwheel cannot be turned), evacuate the area and call emergency services.
If the bubbles were coming from one of the connection points, disconnect the hose and then reconnect it, making sure it’s secure and that the fittings are not cross-threaded.
Remember, the connection between a regulator and propane tank should always be hand-tightened, while the connection between the gas hose and manifold should be tightened with a wrench.
After reconnecting the hose, repeat the soap test to see if that fixed the leak.
If the leak is on the gas hose itself, you’ll need to replace it before using your grill again.
If the leak is coming from your propane tank or seal, contact emergency services to handle the damaged tank, and then reach out to your propane supplier to swap it out for a leak-free one.
Do not take the tank to the propane supplier yourself or try to handle it without calling emergency services first — transporting a damaged tank can be a recipe for disaster.
Safety Precautions for Gas Grill Leaks
If you think your gas grill has a leak, there are a few safety precautions to follow to help make sure your annoying situation doesn’t turn into a deadly one.
First, if you suspect there’s a leak, do not use your grill!
And whatever you do, absolutely do not try to use an open flame to search for the gas leak.
If it’s been a while since you’ve used your grill, perform a leak test before using it to make sure you’re catching any leaks before they become a serious problem.
Lastly, always perform your gas grill leak test outside in an area with plenty of ventilation.
Gas Grill Leak FAQ
Gas grill leaks can be a scary roadblock in the way of a fun day or barbecuing.
If you suspect your grill may have a leak, or if it’s been a while since you’ve tested your grill for leaks, don’t panic!
We’ve got you covered with these common questions about gas grill leaks.
What if You Haven’t Used Your Propane Tank for Years? Is It Safe to Use?
Yes, as long as your propane tank appears to be in good shape, the hose doesn’t show any damage, and your connections are tight, your tank should be good to go even if it hasn’t been used in a while (up to 12 years for DOT steel propane cylinders — they’ll need to be recertified at that point and every five years after that).
What if You Do Suspect Gas Leakage?
If you suspect a gas leak from your propane grill, do not try to disconnect the tank and take it anywhere. Turn off all valves, evacuate the area, and contact emergency services and a service technician. Safety always comes first.
Is It Normal to Smell Gas While Cooking on Your Propane Grill?
No, if your propane tank is connected correctly, it is not normal to smell any gas while grilling — that’s a glaring sign of a leak. Immediately shut down the grill and turn off the gas supply. Contact a professional if you are unsure.
How Often Should I Check My Gas Barbecue for a Gas Leak?
You should check for gas leaks every time you replace or refill your propane tank, move your grill, or replace the hose or regulator. You should also check for leaks at the start of every grilling season and at least once during the grilling season.
What Happens if a Gas Grill Leak Isn’t Fixed?
If a gas leak isn’t fixed, it can lead to dangerous situations like carbon monoxide poisoning, fire, and even explosions. Gas leaks are never to be taken lightly and should be acted upon immediately.
Final Thoughts on Our How to Test Your Grill for A Gas Leak Guide
Testing your gas grill for a leak may seem like one more barrier between you and some delicious food. But don’t overlook this crucial process — making sure your grill is safe is key to a disaster-free and fun grilling experience!
Make checking for leaks a regular part of your grill maintenance routine and be sure to perform a test right away if you suspect your grill may have sprung a gas leak.
Remember, while it’s a critical process, checking for gas leaks doesn’t have to be complicated. All it takes is a bit of know-how and some soapy water to make sure your next barbecue goes off without a hitch.
So, take the time to conduct these checks thoroughly, and enjoy your delicious grilled meals with peace of mind!
If you’ve had any experiences with gas grill leaks, positive or negative, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below. Let’s keep the conversation going!
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!