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Q: I found your Web site very informative. But the reason I was perusing it was to find some sort of guidance on gas leaks. We just found a small gas leak in ours and are debating whether to replace the water heater. One plumber mentioned that it would cost approx. $300 to just replace the gas valve (with only one hour of labor). Do you know of any resources I could look at to give me more info? I definitely don't want to replace a 6-year-old water heater. Thanks!

A: Get a bottle of Windex or soapy water and spray the gas valve and the point where the gas line goes into the control. A leak will make the water bubble out. Those are two places that can be tightened to eliminate a leak. If the control itself is actually leaking, it will have to be replaced, but a gas control should cost $75 to $80. Propane controls cost more. Buy the control and hire a plumber -- not the one who wants to charge $300 per hour! -- to install it for you. Around here -- S.F. Bay Area -- plumbers charge $60-$70 an hour. Since your tank is six years old, you might have the plumber check the anode, too. Good luck and let us know what happens.We're always interested. -- Randy (1995-2000)

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