Natural gas powers so many household appliances and products around us that it’s easy to take for granted how dangerous it can actually be. Natural gas leaks are common in homes, so it’s important you know how to identify what a gas leak smells like to avoid the risks they might pose to you and your family.
Signs of a Gas Leak
Natural gas is highly flammable, but in cases where it doesn’t burn thoroughly, it emits carbon monoxide that is highly toxic to you and your family members. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills almost 500 people a year, so gas companies add an odorant called mercaptan to natural gas to help make it easier to detect.
Mercaptan, also known as methanethiol, gives off the stench of rotten eggs or cabbage. This makes natural gas easier to detect in the event of a leak.
Smells are an excellent way to identify gas leaks, but sometimes gas leaks can occur from old pipes and other sources that emit odorless gasses. Knowing a few other signs of a gas leak can help you react accordingly to the situation and save you valuable time as well.
Roaring and Hissing Sounds
Hearing these sounds indicates you have a faulty gas line or a leaking gas pipe. Most likely, the leak is coming from the gas connection at the rear of your appliance, especially if the sound is noticeable indoors.
If you and your family begin experiencing a sudden onset of headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, or other physical symptoms, you might be experiencing signs of a gas leak. If you start losing your sense of smell or consciousness, and you’re sure it’s not for any other health reason, you should immediately call emergency services.
Dead spots of vegetation around your gas lines could be a sign of a leak around your home. Gas leaks will kill off plants and vegetation over time, so don’t take it lightly if you’re noticing dead houseplants or greenery inside your home.
The bubble test is a great way to tell if you have any leaks, and it can be done on multiple surfaces. Take a cloth or sponge and wipe down your gas line with a mixture of dish soap and water. If you see bubbles forming, you have a gas leak.
Try this on your propane tanks, gas lines, and water heaters, and consider gas boiler repairs if you notice symptoms of leaks there as well.
What to Do if You Have a Gas Leak
If you know what a gas leak smells like, or if you’re experiencing signs of a gas leak, DO NOT stay in the area. Get as far away from your home as possible and call 911 and your local utility company after you’re at a safe distance. Remember, natural gas is highly flammable, and you don’t want to risk the loss of your home. Using phones or other electronics near a leak can cause a spark that ignites the gas.
Identifying Common Gas Smells
While natural gas is the most common gas you’ll encounter at home, it isn’t the only one. It’s essential to know how to identify a few other gasses that, if left unattended, could pose a serious threat to your home.
LPG is a mixture of propane and butane and is most commonly known as the gas used for your BBQ. LPG is odorless, but most manufacturers include mercaptan in the mixture to add a recognizable scent that helps you identify what this gas leak smells like.
Freon is a common chemical refrigerant that’s likely found in your air conditioner or other cooling systems. A freon gas leak smells like a combination of sweets, ammonia, paint, or cat urine. It has a very distinguishable smell, and freon is documented as a gas that has contributed directly to the destruction of the ozone layer, so definitely take note if you come across the smell.
Acetylene is used to fuel welding operations. It has a garlic-like odor due to a combination of phosphine and divinyl sulfide, and you might easily recognize its unique smell. Acetylene can decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea, so be sure to report if you believe it to be around your home.
Protect Your Home From Gas Leaks With Davis Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric
Gas leaks are no joke, so it’s important to have the right people for the job. With Davis Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric, your gas leaks will be a thing of the past, and we can help identify and prevent any other issues that might pose a risk to your home. Contact us immediately if you’re looking for gas leak repair in Roanoke, VA, and protect your home today.