How to Recognize & Handle a Gas Leak


Natural gas is the preferred source of heat for millions of people. People across the world use natural gas to operate their water heaters, dryers, stoves, boilers and numerous other appliances including, believe it or not, air conditioners.

Natural gas offers customers a clean-burning, responsive, and affordable approach to appliances and comfort in their home. But, like everything else, natural gas has drawbacks. A gas leak can pose a deadly risk if the homeowner does not know how to properly assess a leak and take the appropriate action to resolve the issue. Early detection and simple safety measures go a long way towards mitigating any risks associated with using natural gas in your home.

Smelling a gas leak

Natural gas is invisible, tasteless and has no odor in and of itself which is why the utilities add a sulfur-type compound called Mercaptans giving it that “rotten egg” smell (eggs contain higher levels of natural sulfur than most foods).  You would never be able to smell a gas leak if it did not contain mercaptans.  If you smell gas, there are a few simple steps you can take to assure the safety of your home:

  1. Do not turn on any lights or electronics or use a match for any reason because a spark could ignite the gas that is floating inside your home. If you need light for visibility, it is best to use a flashlight.
  2. Exit the home
  3. Call your local gas company or plumbing company
  4. Notify your neighbors. The leak might be coming from a punctured main gas line.

Seeing a gas leak

Of course, there are other ways to know if you have a gas leak located somewhere inside or near your home.  If you hear any unusual hissing or roaring sounds, this could indicate a gas leak. If you hear these sounds, especially near any gas piping or appliances, follow the steps listed above. Another good idea is to find where your gas line from the street to your home is located. This will most often be marked somewhere on the curb outside your home. If not, contact your city’s public works for more information. Once you have located your gas line at the street, follow that line to your house. If you see any dirt blowing into the air, dead or withering vegetation, or any bubbling water, this could indicate you have a leak in your natural gas line. In this case, notify your gas company immediately. They will be able to test for any leaks and recommend any further actions to take.

Any power source has its inherent risks. Electricity can cause fires or shock anyone who comes into contact with it. Gas can leak and ignite or under the right circumstances cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The most important factor is taking appropriate preventative measures to keep the people and animals in your home safe and knowing what to do if any emergencies do occur. For more information or a complete home safety check, give Benjamin Franklin Plumbing a call at 952-933-8888.

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