How to Identify Dangerous Gas Leaks
Natural gas is completely safe as long as it is used properly and doesn't leak. Because it is highly flammable, it can cause fires and poisonous fumes without the right safety measures. Identifying the issue is the first step to preventing gas leaks from wreaking havoc at home.
5 Signs of a Gas Leak
Natural gas is made up of hydrocarbon gasses as well as methane. If a gas leak occurs inside the house, this means toxic fumes are uncontrolled. Typically this happens with old gas lines, but it can also occur in newly built homes. Here are signs of a gas leak:
- High gas bills: Since natural gas cannot be seen, the first clue is usually found in the gas bill. Monthly gas bills increase when gas escapes into various areas of the house. Since the gas is not being used for its intended purpose, it must continuously pump more air to heat the home. Although the cost of gas can fluctuate, gas leaks tend to increase the price all at once radically.
- Foul smells: Gas leaks have a particular odor that tends to smell like rotten eggs. This can be sensed throughout the building or just in one room. If the smell is detected throughout the entire residence, this means gas has spread, and it’s no longer safe to stay inside. The rotten egg smell is a non-harmful odorant called “mercaptan” that is used to detect natural gas leaks.
- Faulty Pilot Light: A pilot light is likely to burn out if a gas leak occurs. This is also true for gas stovetops. Unfortunately, since not all gas-burning appliances have a pilot light, this can be difficult to rely on without additional clues. If physical symptoms are also present, this is a good indicator that a leak is to blame.
- Dizziness: A gas leak can cause several physical symptoms such as vertigo, dizziness, or nausea. If there is a high concentration of gas, this can even lead to asphyxiation. Gas leaks in smaller houses or apartments are more likely to create physical symptoms because the gas is confined.
- Damaged plants: For larger spaces where it may be more difficult to detect gas leaks, dying plants can be a clue. Several plants that wither simultaneously can be due to poisonous air. Indoor pets that become suddenly sick may also indicate harmful gas.
How To Handle a Gas Leak
Gas leaks can occur in pipes and appliances. If a gas leak is suspected, it’s possible to find the source. However, since these fumes are poisonous, the first choice needs to be safety. The number 1 priority at this moment is to evacuate the building.
Nobody in the house should use any sort of flame if a gas leak is suspected. Homeowners should also never turn on lights and appliances like hair dryers. Lighting a candle or cigarette could cause massive danger because of all the chemicals floating in the air.
Shutting off the natural gas can be done outside the house. The shutoff valve is designed to cut the gas supply to help prevent further damage. Although this will help the situation, it is not a solution.
Evacuating the building must be done immediately, even if someone thinks they can fix the leak from inside. Checking the source of the leak and turning off the valve is not enough. After exiting the building, it is important to call for help. The door to the house can be left open to air out the indoor space until a qualified professional arrives. Homeowners can use the fire department and the state’s natural gas-emergency line in case of emergency.
Preventative measures are important to avoid gas leaks from occurring in the first place. Some gas leaks can be prevented by checking household appliances. All appliances should be in working order and free from wire damage. Ideally, appliances should be checked monthly.
Routine inspections are also recommended. Gas lines should be monitored throughout the year to ensure that all appliances operate safely. A plumber usually does this with specialized equipment to detect damage.
Professionals Can Help
Gas leak repair should always be left to professionals. One wrong calculation and tenants are put in jeopardy. Trained professionals use a detection kit to determine if a leak has occurred. Since not all leaks provide noticeable symptoms, relying on smell alone can be dangerous. An electrochemical sensor is typically used to find carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide in the air.
Metal oxide semiconductors can also be used for gas leak detection. Metal oxide semiconductors use a film that produces electrons to detect air currents. These operate in low-humidity ranges for areas that cannot rely on electrochemical sensors.
Homeowners can also get gas detectors installed inside their homes to detect gas leaks and protect their homes and families. This is used primarily as a preventative measure to detect gas in the air. Some special models can detect both natural gas and carbon monoxide.
About Heil Plumbing
Heil Plumbing is a local, family-owned company with over 40 years of experience serving Jessup, MD, and the surrounding areas. They provide straightforward pricing, top-of-the-line service, and trustworthy technicians. Call them today for gas leak detection and repair in Jessup, MD.