Gas safety is a serious issue with natural gas leaks causing about 40 deaths per year. It is important to prevent gas leaks of any size. Even a small leak can lead to serious consequences.
Let’s find out more about gas leaks and how to prevent them:
Why Do We Need Natural Gas at Home?
We use natural gas for a number of reasons. It’s commonly used to heat a home’s working and living spaces. Other than this, natural gas is also used in the kitchen to keep the stove burning.
Natural gas is instrumental in providing us with warm water for bathing, washing, and other such causes. Plus, it is also used outdoors for backyard BBQ parties and to keep swimming pools heated.
In addition to this, it’s also used to keep fire pits burning. In some homes, natural gas has been largely substituted by electricity which can be used to cook, heat water, etc., but natural gas is still a preference for many users due to it being affordable.
The only problem with natural gas is the risk of it leaking into your home. Let’s learn more about natural gas leaks and how to prevent them.
What Are the Causes of Gas Leaks?
Gas leaks are usually due to poorly maintained, badly fitted gas pipes. Other than this, faulty or old appliances such as cookers and boilers may also cause gas leaks. Poorly fitted appliances are a major concern as gas can escape from around the seal or gas hose.
It is important that you only hire accredited and reliable technicians to do the job. Regular maintenance is also important to ensure there are no faults as leaks may often go unnoticed.
This is very important if you’re buying a used item or moving to a new house with old equipment.
Let’s have a look at some tips on how to detect gas leaks.
How to Detect a Natural Gas Leak
Here are four ways to detect a natural gas leak in and around your property:
- Use a Gas Detector
Carbon monoxide detectors can warn you if there’s a natural gas leak. This is the best way to find a leak as you may not always be able to identify other signs of a leak.
These detectors should always be installed below knee-level as carbon monoxide is heavier than air. Also, make sure to not place furniture around the detector as it may disturb the flow of air and prevent the detector from working smoothly.
If you have children or pets, then install them just a little above the ground so that kids and pets cannot reach the detectors.
You may also opt to invest in a hand-held detector to find the source of a leak. These detectors can be useful if you are doubtful regarding leaks.
- Be Attentive and Smell It
The smell of natural gas is pungent and easy to detect. It smells like rotten eggs due to the addition of mercaptan, which makes it easier to notice leaks.
Such leaks are usually close to gas appliances like water heaters and stoves. Sometimes, the smell may be due to burners left on. Make sure to double-check and avoid staying in an area with major leaks as breathing carbon monoxide can be bad for your health.
- Listen Carefully to the Sound of Leaks
This may sound strange to some, but gas makes a hissing sound when it leaks from loose connections. If you hear such sounds then try to identify where they’re coming from by walking around your house.
It may be wiser to not make any noise so that it is easy to find the source of the hissing sound that may also resemble the sound of a faint whistle in some cases.
However, remember that not all gas leaks make such sounds. You will only hear a hissing or whistling noise when the gas leaks through a very tight space.
- Look at the Color of Flames
The color of gas flames can help you identify a gas leak. Yellow or orange flames can be a cause of concern as they indicate a lack of oxygen for the gas to combust.
The flame takes a minute to turn blue, but if it remains yellow or orange then there might be a natural gas leak.
- Some Other Signs
Here are some other signs that indicate a gas leak:
- An increase in the gas bill without an increase in usage.
- Dust or white cloud accumulated around your gas pipes.
- Houseplants suddenly dying.
- Sudden nausea, headaches, and body pains.
Why Is It Important to Deal With a Gas Leak?
A gas leak may sound like a small issue but it can cause serious problems if not taken care of.
Gas leaks can lead to carbon monoxide poisonings, fires, and explosions. Other than this, they also lead to a wastage of scarce resources thus heavy gas bills.
You should waste no time and fix leaks even if they don’t appear to be problematic.
How Should I Do If There is a Gas Leak?
The first step should be to turn off the gas supply. It is usually installed near the gas meter. If you don’t know how to switch off gas supply then seek professional plumber help or call the natural gas emergency number given by your provider. You may also call 911 if you are not sure of who to get in touch with.
The next step should be to open all doors and windows so that fresh air can enter your home and natural gas can escape. Also, do not stay indoors if the smell is too strong as it may be bad for your health.
Do not use any gas or electrical appliance as it may lead to an explosion. Avoid using cigarette lighters or matches and wait for help to arrive. If you see smoke or fire, then call fire service.
How Can I Prevent Gas Leaks?
Call a gas engineer to inspect gas pipes and appliances once a year. Waste no time in replacing faulty appliances and correcting leaks so that the risk factor can be reduced.