How to Detect a Natural Gas Leak
Now that the fall has arrived, the leaves are turning beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red, and the temperatures are cooling down. If your home runs on natural gas, for example, if you have a gas hot water heater and a gas range, you’re probably thinking more about how nice it is to have hot water than you did over the summer.
We’re big proponents of natural gas because it’s a safe, clean, reliable source of energy. We think that most Americans would quickly agree that natural gas is the number one choice for:
- Heating a home
- Heating water
- Drying clothes
Natural gas is applauded because it’s the cleanest burning fossil fuel. When we use natural gas instead of electricity to heat our homes, dry our clothes, and wash our dishes, we’re doing our part to reduce greenhouse gasses, smog, water pollution, and acid rain.
According to Missouri Gas Energy, electric companies generate about 19 percent of their power from natural gas, instead of using coal. Additionally, natural gas appliances are a lot more energy efficient than their electric counterparts. Once you go gas, you never want to go back!
Now that we know how great natural gas is, we must put attention on natural gas leaks for these can be VERY dangerous. If you live in a home that uses natural gas, we suggest that you take a few minutes to learn how to detect a natural gas leak.
Detecting a Natural Gas Leak: What to Look For
Gas leaks happen once in a while so you need to be prepared in case one occurs in your home. It’s critical that gas leaks are handled promptly and correctly otherwise they can lead to a fire, an explosion, or asphyxiation (death).
People can detect natural gas leaks by: 1) sight, 2) smell, or 3) sound. Let’s take a look at all three warning signs:
Sight: Natural gas does not have any color, however, if you observe bubbling water, a dry spot in a moist area, dead plants, or blowing dirt near where gas lines are buried underground, these are all signs of a natural gas leak.
Sound: Natural gas can be heard when it makes a hissing, blowing, or whistling sound near the site of the leak. If you hear a tea kettle sound and it’s out of place, you could have a leak.
Smell: Natural gas is naturally odorless. For this reason, gas companies add a chemical odorant called mercaptan to gas so people can smell it. Mercaptan smells like a skunk or rotten eggs, so if you have a gas leak, you’ll be able to smell it.
If you notice any of the above signs and you suspect a natural gas leak, you MUST take immediate action. Whatever you do, do NOT light a cigarette or a match, or create any type of flame or spark as this can cause an explosion.
Do not use any type of phone, and do not operate anything electrical, including light switches or electric garage door openers. Instead, immediately evacuate the house and call your gas company’s toll-free emergency number.
If you have a non-emergency question about your natural gas, contact us for a service call from one of our Kansas City plumbers!