Natural gas can be a safe, cost-effective way to meet your household's energy demands when used properly and safely.
However, if a gas leak occurs in or around your home, your family can be in sudden danger. Natural gas is extremely flammable and when released, the tiniest spark can ignite the gas, causing catastrophic damage.
It is also important to know that leaking gas can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and you should have functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home before you move in.
Thankfully, many common causes of gas leaks are easy to detect and occur slowly, allowing you time to safely evacuate if you notice one of the telltale signs.
Common Causes of Gas Leaks
Depending on the age of your home, where you live and the types of appliances in your home, a gas leak could occur just about anywhere inside or out.
Generally, gas leaks occur when there’s a poor connection between gas lines and appliances, someone accidentally punctures or breaks a gas line, or the gas supply to a stovetop or fireplace has been accidentally turned on, but not ignited.
Gas leaks can also surface during construction projects. This normally happens when someone accidentally ruptures a gas line while digging outside or completing interior demolition work. If you're getting ready to begin a home construction project, make sure you know where your gas lines are located before you begin digging or demolishing.
How to Tell If You Have a Gas Leak
While gas leaks can be dangerous and deadly, they are easily detectable - if you know where to smell, listen and look.
1. You can smell rotten eggs or sulfur inside of your home.
Natural gas is an odorless, colorless gas. To help people recognize a gas leak before an incident occurs, gas companies add a highly recognizable rotten egg or sulfur scent to the gas so it can be easily identified. Typically, the stronger the smell, the more dangerous the leak.
2. You feel nauseous, dizzy or have a headache.
A prolonged, slow gas leak can create a toxic environment, causing dull headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Even if you don't notice the typical gas smell, you may notice these physical symptoms when a gas leak is present. If you notice these ailments coupled with any other signs on this list, a slow interior or exterior gas leak may be to blame.
3. You hear a hissing sound.
Depending on the age of your home and where you live, you could have steel, copper or brass gas lines.
When a metal pipe is ruptured and the gas begins to dissipate, you will hear a hissing sound as the gas exits through the broken pipe. With a ruptured gas line, you will also typically notice the smell of sulfur mentioned above.
4. You receive a high gas bill.
There's nothing more surprising or painful on your wallet than receiving a huge gas bill.
With a gas leak, your bill can quickly skyrocket when there's a continuous flow of gas running through your meter. Be sure to consider seasonal changes in weather and your usage when reviewing your gas bill. If you have questions about your bill you can contact your gas company.
5. Your furnace has orange or yellow flames.
When natural gas leaks out, other gasses can leak in. Clean burning natural gas should produce bright blue flames when ignited by a furnace or stove. If you notice orange or yellow flames instead of blue ones, you may have a gas leak.
6. Your houseplants die unexpectedly.
Similar to how gas leaks can create a toxic environment for people, it can wreak havoc on your houseplants too. Rapidly browning or dying houseplants can be an indicator that you have an undetected gas leak in your home.
What Should You Do If You Suspect You Have a Gas Leak?
If you suspect that you have a strong gas leak, you should leave the premises immediately and call the 24-hour emergency number for your utility provider or your local emergency response. It's important that you avoid making any sparks while exiting your home.
- Do not light a match or lighter
- Do not turn on any appliances or light switches
- Do not open your garage door
- Do not open or close any windows
- Do not make any phone calls until you have safely exited your home
Questions About Natural Gas Appliances or Service?
Althoff Industries can assist with your natural gas plumbing and appliance needs, including furnace, water heater, boiler and help you choose a service plan and maintenance schedule so points of vulnerability can be detected and repaired before bigger problems occur.
Contact our experts today at 815-455-7000 and let us take you from problem to solution.