How to Pressurize Natural Gas Pipelines for Leak Detection

Testing gas pipelines is serious business.
••• gas pipeline image by Victor M. from

Testing natural gas pipelines is serious business, because explosions can unleash tremendous power. Periodic testing reduces the risk of pipeline failure. The regulations that dictate line testing vary from state to state. Be sure to check with local and state officials in your area. You should consult the American Petroleum Institute's guidelines as well as the National Fire Prevention Association's tips for performing this type of work. You may wish to hire a professional.

    Ensure pipelines are secured and natural gas flow is turned off.

    Secure all pumps with locks to ensure lines can't transfer gas.

    Check with operating personnel to ensure lines are sealed and valves are closed.

    Attach hoses from nitrogen tanks to pipelines using supplied test ports on the pipelines.

    Fill the lines using nitrogen to recommended pressure. This will vary according to pipeline type and material.

    Soap all joints to check for loss of nitrogen. Bubbles will occur if joints are not tight.

    Check gauges periodically to ensure the pressure in the pipeline has not fallen.

    Allow recommended time to elapse to ensure that the pressure remains constant in the lines.

    Release pressure in pipelines gradually.

    Remove hoses and gauges.

    Remove all locking devices.

    Restore lines to service if testing was positive.

    Things You'll Need

    • Various tools and wrenches
    • Pressure gauges
    • Brushes and soapy water
    • Nitrogen tanks
    • Hoses and fittings
    • Lock out / Tag out kit


    • Natural gas is very flammable. Explosions may occur. You should consult a professional testing company to provide this service.

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