7 Signs of a Gas Leak in Your Home
Gas leaks can be highly dangerous to plants, animals, and you. The difficulty is that they aren’t always obvious.
Natural gas is entirely transparent and makes little noise, meaning it isn’t as easy to spot a leak. That said, there are a few identifiers you can look out for if you suspect there may be a gas leak in your home.
The quicker you identify the leak, the faster you can fix it. Gas leaks need repair quickly to prevent serious harm to your health. To ensure you know what to look for, keep reading for our complete guide on the various signs of a gas leak in your home, what to do if you find one, and how you can prevent them in the future. Let’s get into it.
Signs of a Natural Gas Leak
Some signs are more evident than others. How easy it is to spot a leak depends on the severity of the leak and its location. A leak in the basement, or a similar part of your home that you don’t visit a lot, can go unseen for extended periods. A leak in your kitchen, however, can be identified much faster. Here’s what you need to look out for to protect you and your home.
An Unpleasant Smell
Natural gas itself doesn’t smell of anything, making detection incredibly difficult. For this reason, gas companies include a chemical called mercaptan.
Mercaptan possesses a significantly unpleasant scent that is most similar to rotten eggs. It is very distinctive, which is perfect for detection purposes.
If you have started to notice an unpleasant smell in your home with no apparent explanation, a gas leak could be the cause.
Discolored Gas Flames
Some signs may be visible. If you have a gas stove and notice that the flame is orange rather than blue, this could signal a leak. The flames are supposed to be entirely blue.
Orange in the flame is due to oxygen in the pipe, which can only happen if the line somehow becomes damaged. Even if the flame only has flickers of orange in it, it could still indicate a leak. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
A Hissing or Whistling Sound
You can also sometimes hear gas leaking. Leaks will usually give off a hissing or whistling sound at the puncture site. The damage can occur at any point of the pipe, but you’re only likely to hear it if the line is exposed and the rest of the room is silent.
If you suspect a leak, try listening closely to your gas pipes. You may be able to hear something.
Excess Gas Usage
If you’ve noticed an unexplained increase in your utility bill, it could be a sign of a slow leak.
Colder temperatures may warrant using your furnace more, which will increase gas usage. However, if your usage is higher than usual for the time of year, it could be a red flag.
Good news! It might not be your fault that all of your houseplants keep dying prematurely. Natural gas leaks cause the gradual replacement of oxygen with carbon dioxide. Eventually, when the oxygen levels are too low, plants will begin to turn brown and die.
This process usually starts with the leaves, so pay close attention if you have multiple plants that begin to die this way.
Gas leaks aren’t just bad for plants. We also depend on oxygen to survive. When we lack it, our body reacts in several ways. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
If left unchecked, these symptoms can significantly worsen and even prove fatal. If you have suddenly developed any of the above symptoms with no apparent reason, you may have a gas leak.
Unusually Irritated Skin
If you have noticed that your skin seems drier or unusually itchy or irritated, that could be due to a gas leak. Prolonged exposure may even lead to blisters, numbness, and discoloration.
Don’t brush changes to your skin off as some bizarre fluke. Your body may be trying to tell you something!
Changes to Mental State
Physical symptoms, such as nausea or dizziness, aren’t the only signs of a potential leak. Natural gas can also induce changes to your mental state, including:
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
Natural Gas or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Natural gas comes from an issue with the line. Carbon monoxide builds up in the home from burning fuel, such as when using a stove, range, fireplace, lantern, furnace, or grill.
There are many crossover symptoms between carbon monoxide and natural gas poisoning. If you suspect you or another household member may be experiencing this, you must seek immediate medical attention.
What to Do If You Have a Natural Gas Leak in Your Home
If you recognize any of the above signs and realize you may have a gas leak, you need to take it seriously. We strongly advise the following steps.
Evacuate Your Home
Every occupant of the home should leave as soon as possible, including pets. Things can worsen very quickly, so you shouldn’t waste any time. Natural gas is unstable and could cause an explosion.
When you evacuate, it’s best to await the authorities at a location, not on the property itself. Natural gas leaks can also occur outdoors, so you want to vacate the entire area.
Leave Doors and Windows Open
Ventilation is key. While evacuating, try to leave as many doors and windows open on the way out as you can. Air circulation should hopefully reduce the build-up caused by the leak.
Shut Off the Gas Valve
Natural gas lines usually have a shut-off valve located outside the home. Once you have evacuated the premises, cut off the supply to prevent more build-up.
Call 911 Once Outside
Once everyone has evacuated and you are outside, call 911. Local authorities need to be alerted to the potential threat. You mustn’t use your phone until you are out of the house, as doing so could ignite the gas and cause an explosion.
If any house occupants are suffering from adverse symptoms, even if you perceive them to be mild, you should seek out medical attention.
Gas Leak Prevention
As the old saying goes, prevention is cheaper than cure. By being proactive, you could prevent a gas leak entirely. Listed below are some steps you can take.
You’re already ahead of the game with this one, but you should stay educated on the symptoms. Reading guides like these is a great start, but try to make sure everyone in the household is clued-up too. Put it in the same category as fire safety. It’s valuable information for all occupants.
Buy a Natural Gas Detector
Like a fire alarm or a carbon monoxide detector, a natural gas detector can alert you to a potential threat. It may be even more valuable than fire alarms, as they detect something otherwise invisible to us.
Know that a carbon monoxide detector will not pick up a natural gas leak. You’ll need to invest in both devices for your home safety.
Schedule Regular Inspections
Only a professional truly knows what they are looking for, so try to get their opinion as often as possible with routine inspections.
Once a year is usually enough. Inspections like these are easy to put off, but they could prove life-saving.