Detecting a Natural Gas Leak in the Home

Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that has a wide variety of uses; in the home, we use it for furnaces, hot water heaters, space heaters, stoves, clothes dryers, and fireplaces.

With over 2.1 million miles of underground gas pipelines across the United States, more than half of U.S. homes use natural gas – that’s approximately 62 million families.

Fun facts about natural gas:

  • It was formed under the earth around 100 million years ago.
  • It is lighter than air.
  • It is colorless and odorless.
  • Utility companies add mercaptan, a sulfur-containing compound with an offensive rotten egg-like odor, to help people notice gas leaks.

Natural Gas Leaks

When natural gas is sealed tight inside pipes and used the right way, it isn’t dangerous. However, when there is a leak, natural gas can be dangerous because it is highly flammable. When natural gas leaks out and there is a spark or a flame in the area of the leak, it could cause an explosion or a fire.

If this happens in the home, it can spell disaster.

If you suspect a gas leak, you should rely on your senses of sight, hearing and smell to be alerted of a gas leak. The following are the common signs of a gas leak:

  • A dry patch of grass in the yard.
  • Water or debris blowing in the air.
  • Dying or dead vegetation in an area that is otherwise moist.
  • Either a fire or an explosion near a pipeline.
  • A pipeline that has been exposed due to a fire or natural disaster.
  • Strange sounds, such as hissing, whistling, or roaring near a natural gas line.
  • The distinct “rotten egg” odor of natural gas.

Please, be aware that some people do not smell the odor of natural gas because they can’t smell, or they have olfactory fatigue, which is the temporary inability to distinguish an odor after being exposed to it for a long period of time.

Sometimes people can’t smell natural gas because the odor is masked by cooking or chemical odors, damp, or musty scents. Additionally, the conditions in a pipe or soil can cause the sulfur-like odor to fade, making it so the natural gas is undetectable by the olfactory senses.

Do you suspect a natural gas leak in your home? Contact the Kansas City plumbers at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. for immediate assistance!

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