Think You Might Have a Gas Leak? Here’s What to Do
Natural gas is the foremost means of powering appliances such as furnaces, water heaters and ranges in modern homes. In general, it’s a safe source of combustion, and more than likely, you will never encounter a gas leak in your home. However, in the rare event that it happens, it pays to know how to recognize a leak and what to do about it.
Natural gas is odorless and tasteless, but has a substance added to it that smells like sulfur so that we can detect it should it be leaking. Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is not toxic, but it will displace oxygen. Once that happens in sufficient volume in a closed space, living creatures will suffer from oxygen depletion and may suffocate.
Gas leaks can happen as pipes age, fittings come loose or appliances malfunction. Here are some of the signs of leaking gas:
- Leaking gas will have a strong rotten-egg smell.
- Natural gas in pipelines is pressurized, and as it escapes through cracks or loose fittings, it may have a hissing sound.
- Flames can ignite, if there’s a source for a spark such as a pilot light or static electricity.
- Dead vegetation or discolored grass can signal a gas leak in an underground pipeline.
- Blowing dust or dirt coming out of the ground can indicate a leaking gas line.
Gas detectors are inexpensive, and some are sold that can also detect carbon monoxide.
If you suspect leaking gas, evacuate the home at once, taking all occupants and pets. Notify your gas utility immediately; if no one can be dispatched right away, contact emergency personnel. Refrain from using a cell phone in the vicinity of the gas. Likewise, do not turn on lights or any electrical appliances. Don’t smoke or light matches.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues — especially HVAC and plumbing issues — so that they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes.
Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr”