DIY Message Boards
Fixing a small NG leak

This topic can be found at:

Oct 11, 2013, 12:02 PM
Fixing a small NG leak
Hello All,

First off, here's the thing...I live in an apartment building that my wife's Grandfather owns. The building is not exactly "up to code" on stuff, and with her Grandfather being 80 years old (still with it though, drives and everything), he doesn't exactly want to put any $ into the building.

He's also the type to sweep stuff under the rug if something is broken or not done most of the building components are original and in disrepair (Electric, Plumbing, etc. etc.)

I've learned in THIS building, you have to shove a bucket under a leaky faucet and let it be. I hate to, but there's way to much wrong to deal with it.

Anyway, on to the NG leak. We have an old Gas on Gas stove with the heater in the side of it. Lately I have smelt some gas around our stove, and I did the soap test and determined we have a leaky joint in the gas pipes behind the stove

I don't want to tell her Grandfather about this because he will try to fix it on his own, which it won't get done properly...Is there some type of sealant I can go around the joint with, or does it have to be taken apart?

I don't know anything about NG pipes/fittings/tools etc. and I can't call the Gas company because Gramps despises them, they'd probably say everything needs to be replaced, or just laugh.

Thanks for any and all help.
Oct 11, 2013, 12:12 PM
You might just try to retighten the fitting and see if that cures the leak. If not I would take it upon myself to have someone come in and fix it. It doesn't have to be the "Gas Company" . There are several contractors that do this type of work.
Oct 11, 2013, 12:17 PM
I can't offer any technical advice but did want to share the concern about not calling the gas company.

It's kind and respectful of you to avoid calling them because of the grandfather's attitude, but in this case I think safety supercedes concern for him. If something happened to anyone in the apartment, wouldn't you feel guilty for not having called them?

Before trying to fix it I would in fact contact the gas company. They can pinpoint the leak, even though you've already determined one exists and perhaps even fix it safely, particularly since you write that you're not familiar with these issues.

I also wonder if legally you have any authority to make repairs in the apartment leased from the grandfather.

If anything did happen, you have actual and constructive knowledge of a hazardous situation. There may be a legal argument that you had a duty to notify your wife's grandfather, and that he has a legal obligation to correct the safety issue.

Failing to do that might invalidate the coverage under his homeowners liability insurance. Worse yet, it may contribute to criminal charges if he allows a hazardous situation to exist.

You're thoughtful for respecting his idiosyncracies, but if he's not willing to address the issue then he shouldn't be renting and jeopardizing the safey of his tenants.

And worse case scenario is that he gets mad at you. Better that than ill tenants, or an explosion.

I've called my gas company on a few occasions when I smelled gas and no one laughed at me. They took it very seriously and sent someone out immediately.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Oct 11, 2013, 01:30 PM
You could make arrangements for a specific time and date to get it repaired, leave a key with someone you trust to let in the repairman, then take the old guy out for a nice dinner and movie while the leak is fixed and he doesn't know about it. You'll also make some points
Oct 11, 2013, 04:30 PM
nona has the right idea,,,a little schmozzing goes a long way

but..get it fixed,,a gas leak is a very dangerious thing..specialy around a stove with a pilot light..whe you go out. and leave the apt. there is no air movement, due to door opening closing and the gas will form a "pocket" pilot light will ignite that pocket..and ya'll on on the 5 oclock news coast to coast..TRAGIC FIRE KILLS 6 in..........
Oct 11, 2013, 05:33 PM
OK, first off, you need to fix this NOW! Delay very much and you'll have neither a grandfather nor an apartment to worry about.

Since you know how to test for a leak, you should know how to fix one too. You will need to turn off the gas - hopefully just to the stove. Then take the leaking fitting apart, clean out any remnants of thread sealer then recoat the threads with a pipe dope (make sure is says good for NG). Tighten it back up and test. If no bubbles, then you are good.

If it still leaks beyond that then it's time to call in a pro and get it done.

But whichever path you choose - do it now.

Oct 12, 2013, 12:56 AM
Thanks for all the reply's! I fully agree, it needs to be fixed.

I'll let you know what happens. I might just tell her grandfather, after all it's his building and his problem.

We're planning on moving out by next winter, I just hope some major component doesn't fail in the meantime.

Oct 12, 2013, 10:14 PM
We went out today for a few hours, came back and the ENTIRE apartment smelled like gas...As soon as you walked in the door.

We decided to call her grandfather right there and then.

To make a long story short, he came up, *****ed about how he didn't believe us, but decided to tighten up the fitting anyway...

It SEEMS to be fixed for the moment. I've done the soap/bubble test 3 times now because I'm nervous, and you better believe I'm going to be sniffing around for the next few days.

Thanks for all the reply's!
Oct 13, 2013, 06:09 AM
some times....the leak is so small, that you can not see the bubbles right away. but keep an eye one the fitting and a bubble will pop up an hour later
i had one that we did not see untill the next morning
Oct 13, 2013, 11:09 AM
I'm glad the leak is fixed, and that presumably you and your wife weren't harmed by the gas.

But this was really a warning that your wife's grandfather needs to make some decisions and commitments to maintain the apartment building, either by himself or with and through others, or sell it.

He has moral and legal obligations to his tenants, and likely contractual ones as well assuming that the leases contain clauses requiring him to keep the apartments in good repair. His failure to do so could be grounds for termination of the leases and/or breach of contract suits by the tenants, not to mention civil action or intervention by the authorities.

His insurance on the building could be cancelled if the insurance carrier becomes aware of the situation. They aren't going to insure a fire trap, especially if the owner stalls on making repairs or makes them himself and does so improperly.

Are other tenants dissatisfied with the state of their apartments? Is your grandfather aware of their recourse? They could escrow their rent, withholding it in escrow until he's forced to make repairs. They could hire an attorney and sue for what's known as specific performance under their leases. Or they could contact local media or the public health department and file complaints.

Each of these actions could end up costing GF a lot of money, perhaps more than it would cost to make the repairs voluntarily. In my area, hourly rates for attorneys range from $250 upward. If he was sued for specific performance under the leases, he could easily be forced to commit to several thousand dollars in legal fees, plus eventually make the repairs or have to pay for repairs mandatorily ordered by a judge.

If the public health department becomes involved, they could also force him to make repairs, and they may have the right to assume control and contract the repairs themselves, at rates that probably wouldn't be what your grandfather would want to pay.

Alternately, the tenants could just move.

There was an incident several years ago of a deteriorating building in Detroit which was so bad the health department relocated the tenants, at the cost of the landlord, until/if repairs could be made. I don't remember all the details, but if something like this occurred, it could financially devastate GF.

If it comes down to an expenditure of funds issue, GF is more likely to spend more if he doesn't start addressing these issues now than if the tenants take action against him.

Beyond the possible forced remediation cost issue, there's the issue of the decline in his investment. Allowing the building to deteriorate is an investment decision as well as a legal and moral one. If he ever wants to sell, his ROI will be less if the building is in a deteriorating condition, if he can even sell it in that state.

Given what you've written of him, it sounds like it will be a hard sell to convince him to make the repairs.

I wouldn't confront him but rather raise the issue gently so he isn't threatened. Maybe one of the family members, a friend, or religious advisor could assist, one by one "schmoozing" him and raising the issue in a friendly manner.

The goal is to make him see that his current neglect could and probably will cost him more in the long run, and may involve unpleasant legal action or worse yet, injure his tenants.

Has he been subject to a lot of stress recently? Lost a wife or family member? If so, dealing with the repairs may be more than he can handle now by himself.

It may also be a Depression Era issue; anyone I know who lived through the Depression has a frugal mentality that many people just cannot comprehend.

Another possibility is to hire a commercial manager to run the building and make repairs. It will decrease your GF's profit, but it will address the issues and relieve him of the responsibility as well as the tenant relations.

I'm not trying to scare you, but the thought of an apartment filled with gas odor is very unsettling. And given that this man is your wife's GF, it's not entirely your responsibility. But it sounds as if you're the one who's concerned so you may have to initiate the action.

Good luck.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Oct 14, 2013, 09:36 PM
Garden Sprite, this is exactly what I have been thinking/saying to my wife/other family members.

There have been numerous issues with the building, and her other family members can't believe we actually go to him if/when an issue arises... her family has accused us of (and fully believes) we're trying to get "extra" things out of him, they think we're trying to get him to replace things just to get some money out of him or make cosmetic improvements, just in spite of the other tenants (her aunt and uncle live on the first floor).

Her grandfather is 80 years old and just has a set mentality, he's not fully aware of these issues or doesn't believe there a big deal.

He can't even shovel his own car out in the winter...speaking of, theres no parking-we have to park in the street, which is by "resident permit only". We are the ONLY building on the street that DOES NOT have a driveway.

One time I mentioned to my wife's mother that Grandpa should buy the empty parking lot that is next door. (Yes-we have no parking and there is an empty parking lot FOR SALE next door) which over the years he has never bought.

Her mothers response: "Why would he EVER put anything into the building??? He's 80 years old, he's going to die soon"

I told my wife flat out-if he can't manage the building he should just get rid of it
Oct 15, 2013, 12:04 AM
Garden Sprite,

Just to answer some of your questions...We don't even have a lease. That's how out-of-the-loop her grandfather is.

But this was really a warning that your wife's grandfather needs to make some decisions and commitments to maintain the apartment building, either by himself or with and through others, or sell it.

He doesn't want to, see Grandpa believes the building is in good condition and needs nothing... his family knows it's deteriorating, but they say, "Why would he put money into it?, He's 80"

So I guess we couldn't do anything anyway. (given no lease)

Are other tenants dissatisfied with the state of their apartments?

The building has always had family members live in it, her aunt and uncle are on the first floor. They do realize it's old and deteriorating; but I believe they are fairly satisfied because Grandpa has let the uncle do his own painting, floors, cosmetic things, and also well-if there's a leak it goes to the basement so no one really knows I guess.

It seems like you can't tell her GF or other family members anything...Our bathroom drain was leaking, Grandpa said we "had too much stuff in the cabinet which wiggled the pipe loose"...

We had a clog at the kitchen sink, we plunged it and the pipe burst and split down the side from the pressure, Grandpa said we "had it to cold up here and froze the pipe" We had an issue where the pilot light kept blowing out on our parlor heater, circa 1950s? Grandpa said it "doesn't have a god damn pilot light"

The thought of old, deteriorating NG pipes and appliances scares me also!

My main priority is just getting out of here ASAP before something major breaks or something serious breaks and I'm forced to tell him about it.

As is he could barely fix the leaking NG pipe, he was completely out of breath, shaking, sweating, etc.
Oct 15, 2013, 12:22 AM

When I read your previous message I realized there was a lot more going on than just the issue of GF not recognizing there were problems or not wanting to spend the money.

There are obviously some negative family dynamics from the aunt and uncle and GM, and I suspect some denial, judgment, perception and abstraction issues on the part of GF which interfere with his ability to conceptualize the danger in the present situation.

I'm taking a free seminar sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging. We discussed some issues last week which I think might apply and help explain why GF doesn't recognize the danger of not making the repairs.

I want to do a bit of research and will answer tomorrow or the following day, but I do think now that your best bet is to get out of there as the family dynamics are too strong to battle.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Oct 16, 2013, 09:31 PM
It's time for grandpa to get his butt out of the landlord business and report this entire mess. This is completely out of control. Water only causes damage, but gas leaks and electrical issues kill.

I like old people, but at this rate, many people might not make if this clown is still in charge.

Oct 16, 2013, 11:01 PM
First, a qualification of my remarks: I don’t see medicine or its practitioners as the cure for so many issues that arise during life, especially older life, but I do think that there can be a lot going on mentally and physically as people age which explain their behaviors. After reading and reading your posts, and reading the caregiving manual I have, I have a different perspective on your situation.

Has it occurred to anyone that GF may be suffering from some physical issue, such as depression and/or dementia? Is his wife alive? Does he live with her or alone? Does anyone ensure he eats proper meals? Nutritional deficiencies can cause medical problems. Is anyone acting as his caregiver, ensuring that he gets medical treatment and appropriate testing to address any cognitive impairment issues?

The material for the course I’m taking addresses aspects of dementia which can affect a person’s life, including a change in judgment and difficulty with abstract concepts, and “if/then” concepts such as: if a natural gas leak isn’t fixed it can lead to an explosion.

Our “manual”, prepared by a group of medical professions in conjunction with the VA, addresses factors associated with dementia to include impairment of abstract thinking and judgment.

Summing up, from your descriptions: GF “sweeps” issues “under the rug”, finds excuses or shifts blame if something needs repair, “despises” the gas company, isn’t “fully aware” of the issues or doesn’t seem to think they’re “a big deal”, and “believes the building is in good condition and needs nothing.”

I think it’s possible these reflect serious judgmental impairments. It could also be that he’s just stubborn and set in his ways. But if he had the ability to repair things like a gas leak, then at some time he must have recognized that it was a necessary option for a leak. Now he apparently doesn’t.

Unfortunately, it sounds as if there are some intra-family issues going on that could affect GF’s attitude, as well as his outlook on his own position within the family and as an individual.

Friction within the family, perception that you’re trying to gain some perceived advantage, and a daughter with a very resigned, unsupportive and negative attitude only complicate the situation. No wonder GF doesn’t want to do anything if his daughter thinks he’s on death’s doorstep. If he is having some cognitive problems, the family attitudes certainly aren’t supportive.

You also expressed a reluctance to call the gas company because GF despises them, and speculated that you “couldn’t do anything anyway” because there’s no lease. You do have a right, lease or not, to live in safe premises, to call the health department, gas company, or other entity if those premises are a threat to the safety and health of you and your wife. I can’t cite case law, but a lease doesn’t need to be in place for these protections to exist.

Are you afraid of offending him, and does this concern outweigh your own concern for safety? (I’m not trying to be hostile or sarcastic, just to inject some perspective on his role in your own life and self protection actions.) I sense a reluctance to confront him.

I don’t know enough about landlord obligations absent formal leases, but I suspect that there is case law to support obligations to maintain safety functions, so your GF wouldn’t be excused from this obligation and potential liability just because there are no leases. And if there are issues of dementia, action needs to be taken to transfer his landlord role to someone capable of handling it - NOW.

You have a couple of options, one of which is very difficult and that’s to build up his mental attitude so he doesn’t believe that his life is close to being over, assuming that he doesn’t have depression or dementia. Spend more time with him and take him to do the things he enjoys. Get music and pet therapy, and just as importantly, try to get him to be more positive, although that’s probably hard to do given the family attitude.

Also investigate the medical issues if you can.

And simultaneously try to convince him that someone needs to take charge of the apartment building before a serious accident occurs. But unfortunately I don’t think he’ll be able to recognize or act on this issue.

The other option is just accept that it’s a situation out of your control and focus on protecting yourself and get out of that apartment building ASAP.

The last option is probably more uncomfortable, and that’s notifying (anonymously if necessary) the public health and other appropriate departments of the safety violations.

You're in a tough situation and I wish you luck and success (and I apologize for the length of this post; I just can seem to say what I want with less verbage).

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Oct 18, 2013, 03:06 AM
Thanks for the reply Garden Sprite. You said exactly what I did, except with better wording ha-ha.

It has occurred to me, personally that he may be starting to get dementia, I'm not really sure what the rest of the family thinks, or if they even ask themselves that question at all.

GFs wife died in 1996? give or take some years. He lives alone, and to be honest he can't cook much on his own.

He pretty much does everything on his own. One of the things I did notice about him is that he doesn't seem to be very "smart" (put in a good way). Now, I don't know if this is just the way he's always been, or if this is the early stages of dementia.

When he came up to fix the NG pipe, he asked why the water wasn't getting warm (to wash his hands) He had the cold on, which clearly has a huge C on it, and it was the right knob. Everyone knows the hot is always on the left.

Even if you don't know that, common sense tells you to try the other knob when one doesn't work.

I don't exactly know what the deal is with GF, but I can tell you he is extremely stubborn, "always right" attitude.

I feel like most of the family thinks the way 1% of people would think, where as I think like 99% of people.

The rest of her family thinks the building is fine and it's perfectly OK that an 80 year old is a landlord and lives by himself.
Oct 18, 2013, 10:13 AM
Thanks for the explanations; it helps put things in perspective.

I doubt if the family WANTS to know if GF has dementia. It can be so overwhelming that sometimes people remain or hide in denial as they don't know how to deal with it.

If he is developing it, who will take care of him? It would require that the family step up to the plate and take some action, and it doesn't sound as though they're so inclined.

I'm not surprised he doesn't cook much after his wife died, and he probably doesn't eat well either. One easy thing that could be done, if he would cooperate, is to get Meals on Wheels. The cost is nominal.

As to the confusion of the water taps, that might have been a reflection of not thinking clearly because he didn't feel the pipe needed attention, but it could also be the cognitive confusion of dementia. It's not atypical, from what I've seen, including in my own experience.

His "always right" attitude may be part of the reason why the family tends to leave him to himself and not intervene.

And given your last statement, I don't think there's much you can do without involving public authorities' intervention. You'd be fighting an uphill battle against GF and the rest of the family.

I certainly hope you and your wife can find a safer place to live ASAP as I don't really see any easy solution for the situation until something happens and the authorities become involved.
Oct 18, 2013, 12:28 PM
time to call the city inspector, and get another place. we have all sorts of decrepit properties up here that get condemned and auctioned to somebody who can fix them up.

unfortunately, too many of those cases linger for years.

sorry about GF, but really, is it a favor to live inside a bomb?

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?