Gas leaks are a dangerous phenomenon, yet it is happening. Every year, these leaks cause significant damage to houses and animals, which you can detect and prevent in a timely manner if you want. You should know how to check for a gas leak, and what its possible causes are before taking preventive measures.
At home, natural and propane, these two types of gas are used and both types of gas can leak. Gas leaks can also be caused by any gas stove burner or fireplace used in your home that is not checked or cleaned for a long time.
The natural gas leak, which is very horrible, has no odor, which means it’s almost impossible to detect a small leak. Although there is a hissing sound, you’ll not always find it. To find out the utility company adds a chemical called mercaptan to the gas which isn’t harmful. It smells like sulfur or rotten eggs which helps you to detect gas leaks. The problem is, if the leak is very small, you won’t even smell it.
Natural gas is considered a fossil energy source from underground. The main component of this gas is methane, but it also contains non-hydrocarbon gas and natural gas liquids. It comes from plants and animals that were initially on the seafloor, and the earth’s surface in thick layers, and later these layers are buried under silt, rock, and sand. These are now converted into natural gas, oil, and coal, which are our natural resources.
But, since this resource is derived from fossils, it’s not renewable and any day will run out. Moreover, leaks are considered very dangerous, as they can create an explosive concentration at any time. They can become destructive to flora and fauna. Therefore, everyone should be careful in using this gas with regular checking and prohibition standards.
Propane gas leaks are primarily the result of faulty construction, faulty equipment, and failure to check for leaked or cracked pipes. If your tank is detached from the gas it can create the possibility of gas leaking. Gas leaks can also be caused by tampering with propane tools or equipment, repairing valves, and usually messing with your propane tank or distribution system.
Propane is also a flammable gas, so even a small spark can ignite it, so it should be more careful in its use. Regular checking, cleaning, and any unusual odor in the house should be taken very seriously. If you notice a leak in the propane, leave the area immediately and help everyone get out of the building or area you suspect is leaking gas.
How Do Gas Leaks Happen?
In the case of gas leaks usually, the old gas supply pipes of the old house are at greater risk. Most of these are made of cast iron which decays over time. This makes them more likely to leak gas. Gas leaks are more dangerous because natural gas is mainly composed of methane.
Whether you use natural gas or propane in water heaters, stoves, dryers, or fireplaces in applications to generate heat in your home every day, over time, these devices hold and attach the pipe to seals that can wear and corrode. Corrosion of these seals and pipes can easily cause gas leaks in your home.
There is a lifetime of gas lines connected to your home that is limited. These pipes need to be tested and replaced before the end of their life cycle. Otherwise, it can be a destructive cause of gas leaks in your home
One of the secrets for you is the cross-crossing pipes that run through the bottom of your home, supplying gas to the pipe connectors for your appliances. This piping system can be faulty or get worse over time, which you may not even know about. Also, the extended tree roots in the old house can disconnect the line with extra pressure.
Another possible cause of a gas leak could be an earthquake. For this, all homeowners should make sure to install emergency shutoff valves on their gas lines.
How to Check for a Gas Leak?
There are various methods and ways how to check for a gas leak. In this article, the most 8 reliable tricks are discussed –
1. Check the Smells
You can take the help of certain smells to check if there are any gas leaks in your house. Use your nose or sense of smell to get it properly.
If you suddenly smell rotten eggs in the house and if there are no rotten eggs in the house, it’s a sign that you may leak your gas connection. This is an indicator of a serious problem that is strongly recognized for gas in any home, the source of which is a natural gas leak.
Although it’s an odorless natural gas under normal circumstances, the odor that is found after the gas is leaked is a chemical substance called utility companies mercaptan which is odorless but not harmful. Its smell spreads like a rotten egg. Refrain from using flammable substances or lighters during this time.
If you get the smell of rotten cabbage in the house all of a sudden, this is a sign that your gas may have leaked. Be careful not to delay. It also smells from the mercaptan attachment, which has been added to detect the gas leaks.
If you notice any smell of sulfur in the house, its source may be your gas leak. You have to be careful here. If the smell is high, immediately move to a safe place with all your family members and call a technician to fix it.
Another way to detect gas leaks is through skunk smell. You can sometimes get smells like skunk which smells of gas leaks. This is also due to methyl mercaptan, which has been used to detect gas leaks. The mercaptan skunk spray mixed with natural gas is chemically similar to butyl mercaptan in compound form, which carries extremely strong sulfur compounds. If you suspect the smell is a skunk or gas leak, call 911 without delay.
2. Listen to the Hissing Sound
If you hear a hissing sound from your home’s gas appliance area, pause for a minute and pay close attention to what you hear. This is often a sign of gas leaks. So if you hear this kind of sound, you have to be careful.
This is extremely dangerous for two reasons, firstly, the risk to the house and the health of your family members, secondly, you are constantly losing a lot of gas. However, in cases where the gas always passes through a confined space, this term shouldn’t be alone relied upon to determine the presence of leaks.
Another thing, if you hear the sound of gas leaking, you can also smell it. In that case, it’s best not to try to fix the connection yourself, call the utility company for a quick investigation.
3. Check the Stove or Range Top
In this case, you will not find a blue flame in the gas stove after turning on the gas burner. This is a sign that there is enough gas in the air to ignite. That is, if your range or oven gives an orange or red flame, then you must understand that there may be gas in the air that is absorbing oxygen.
4. Check the Soapy Water Test
If you think there may be a gas leak in your home, a quick and reliable way to detect it is to check for bubbles. First, take a cup of water, and mix with it a thick solution of one teaspoon of detergent. Now wipe with a cloth or sponge where you think there is a leak in the gas connection.
If you see bubbles forming in wet places then your suspicion is correct! In other words, there is a strong possibility of gas leakage.
5. Check the Dead Grass in Home
If houseplants suddenly start to die for no reason, it could be a sign of a gas leak. There are gas pipes under your house, if any gas line is leaked, it’ll take in oxygen. An inadequate supply of oxygen and the smell of gas in the home air will cause the grass around your house to turn yellow, which is the cause of gas leaks.
6. Check the Behavior of Pets
Another reliable way to detect gas leaks is to observe the behavior of dogs, cats, birds, and other pets in your home. If any abnormal behavior is noticed among them during this time, such as lazy movement of the pet, loss of appetite, or nausea, it may cause gas leakage.
7. Check for Physical Changes
There are symptoms of some physical ailments, such as shortness of breath or headaches that can sometimes be caused by the presence of gas in the air. If you notice these symptoms while you are at home, but the symptoms don’t appear when you have been home for some time and can’t be explained in any other way, it may be due to the presence of gas. You should carefully inspect your home’s gas line.
8. Use Gas Leak Detector
If you want to find gas leaks surely and efficiently, the surest way is to use a gas leak detector. There are several different types of gas leak detectors on the market for you to choose from. You can order by choosing the best option of your choice.
The best way to detect the symptoms of leaking gas is to install a carbon monoxide detector near your bedroom at home. This device will make a loud noise and help to detect if there is carbon monoxide in the air.
How to Prevent Gas Leaks?
Know and Let Know
First, you need to know about the possible causes of gas leaks and natural gas protection, then let your family members and even the children in the house know and learn. People need to be educated about the signs and symptoms of gas leaks and what to do in case of a gas leak or suspected gas leak.
Have Regular Inspections
Your home gas line is a lot of mystery to you. Because you aren’t sure about its fitness or even its existence. Therefore, make sure that all gas-burning equipment and lines, as well as their chimneys, flue, and vents, are inspected by a certified inspector each year.
Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector
These devices can help you to easily detect gas leaks in your home. It’ll alert you with an alarm by emitting a louder sound at the critical moment of a gas leak. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in all bedrooms in the house.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher
This is basically pre-preparation for the final threat. Gas is a combustible substance. Even a small spark near a gas leak can cause a large fire. For this, you should, or better experience, keep a versatile fire extinguisher near the gas line.
Always keep the area around your gas-burning equipment and gas equipment unobstructed. This will help in easily detecting and preventing natural gas leaks in this designated area. Ventilation also plays a helpful role in protecting the health of health-conscious people with fresh air.
Remove Flammable Material
Remove all flammable materials from the nearest area of the gas line. Keep all supplies, including paints, gas equipment, and other chemicals away from gas lines.
What to Do When a Gas Leak in the House?
1. If you notice a gas leak in the house or get a smell of gas, immediately remove all sparks and flammable materials, and other exposed flames. Do not use sparks or anything that could generate or avoid the electric charge. For example, lighters, open flames, mechanical devices, rotary telephones, light switches, doorbells, thermostats, etc., from which flames or sparks can explode or ignite.
2. Quickly turn off the gas connection. If you find it safe to do this in your propane tank or do not find the situation too unfavorable, turn off the main gas supply valve on the side or outside of the house.
3. If you get a hissing sound with a smile or feel the situation is out of control, leave the area immediately! If you smell propane inside or outside the house, take yourself and your family out of the house as soon as possible without trying to solve the problem.
4. First take a position at a safe distance, then report the problem by calling your propane retailer or gas connector. If you can’t reach or connect to your propane retailer, call your local fire department or 911.
5. Do not return home until the problem is resolved. Remember, this time is not for you. In general, do not try to return to your building or area until the problem is resolved.
6. Check your system. Test your entire system before you use any of your appliances. Check with your propane retailer or any qualified service technician to see if there are any leaks.
The specific gas line in your home shouldn’t be given the responsibility of supplying gas for a lifetime. It also has a fixed life that over time becomes aging, losing functionality. You should check it every year and replace it ahead of time. We have described in this article how to check for a gas leak, and what to do when a gas leaks in the house instantly.
We recommend, that if you are sure or strongly suspect that there is a leak in the gas connection line of your gas stove, oven, range, or gas fireplace, call a licensed plumber to diagnose and resolve the issue without trying to fix it yourself.