Product review: TopTes PT205 Gas Leak Detector

Many home inspectors like to carry gas leak detectors in their tool bags. We call ’em gas sniffers. We don’t use these devices during every inspection, but if we smell gas, it can be handy to use one of these tools to help narrow down the leak’s location. As I’ve said in the past, if you have a good nose, it’s usually just as effective as using a gas leak detector.

I smell gas

Unfortunately, you can’t always fit your nose into all the places you want to test, for example, behind a gas range. In those cases, using an electronic gas leak detector can be handy.

My gas sniffer of choice has long been the TIF8900, but I recently tested the TopTes gas leak detector, model PT205 (thanks for the tip, Eric!). Because I’ve used the TIF8900 for so long, this is the device I’ll compare it to.

Pros

Price: The PT205 is currently listed for $25.99 on Amazon. This is extremely inexpensive compared to the TIF8900, which is at least ten times the price.

Size: This thing is about the same size as an electrical voltage detector. I love this! It slips into a tool pouch, making it handy for any home inspector to carry it around throughout the entire inspection. There’s no way to carry around a TIF8900 with you.

TopTes PT205

Batteries: It runs on two AAA batteries. The TIF8900, on the other hand, has two very expensive, proprietary Ni-cad batteries (boo).

Warm-up: It takes exactly 30 seconds for the PT205 to self-calibrate, and it shows a countdown timer. This is about 15 seconds faster than the TIF8900, which also requires manual adjustment after it has warmed up.

Accuracy: I tested it on my gas stove, and it was just as accurate and responsive as the TIF8900; maybe even more so.

Alarm: It gives both a visual and audible alarm when it detects a gas leak.

Cons

The only drawback is that this is not as responsive as the TIF8900. When you have a very small gas leak, it takes an extra half-second for the PT205 to alert you. Check out the video above to see what I mean.

But because I’m comparing it to the TIF8900, I should point out that these are very different tools. The TIF8900 is a combustible gas detector, while the PT205 is a gas leak detector. A combustible gas detector will not only detect gas leaks, but it’ll also sound off when it detects exhaust gas. This is useful for finding exhaust gas leaks around the jackets of boilers or exhaust gas leaks around gas fireplaces. The PT205 won’t find these exhaust gas leaks.

A warning to home inspectors about using electronic gas leak detectors

Electronic gas leak detectors are notorious for finding false positives. Here at Structure Tech, we never rely on electronic gas leak detectors to report anything. They’re just handy tools for our inspectors to help locate leaks. More on this topic next week.

Written By

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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