How to Detect a Gas Leak in Your Home
How to detect a gas leak in your home with simple signs, including the distinctive odour of the gas, a hissing sound of the leaking gas escaping, higher gas bills, dead or dying plants, electronic combustible gas detectors, a white mist, bubbles when you spray with soapy water, appliances with red or yellow flames or feeling unwell.
Whilst searching you also want to avoid all ignition sources including, but not limited to, flames, electrical switches and telephones.
Using Your Nose
For safety reasons, the gas suppliers add an odourant – Ethyl Mercaptan – to the gas to help detect a gas leak in your home.
Natural gas and LPG are naturally colourless and odourless without this additive.
Most people describe the smell as either rotten eggs or rotten cabbage.
Using Your Ears
Leaking gas from a small opening may cause a hissing noise.
Once you determine the general area, you can utilise the soapy water leak test to identify the exact location of the leak.
Be sure to check all connections with the soapy water, as well.
For another use of your ears, you can purchase electronic combustible gas detectors online or in your local hardware store.
They can be stationary or handheld portables.
They detect both natural gas and LPG.
It has an audio alarm, similar to a smoke detector.
Carbon monoxide detectors are also available.
Higher Gas Bills
You may have a leak if you notice that your gas bills show higher consumption, in gas units, than the same period in the previous year.
Sometimes the leaks are so slow that you can neither smell nor hear them but they may show up on your gas bill.
Remember to use units like cubic meters, cubic feet, kilograms, litres, or gallons and not the monetary value, as prices may have changed.
Using Your Eyes
If you ever observe a white mist or cloud it could be indicative of a pipe rupture or similar leak.
You should evacuate the area immediately and call for help from a safe location.
Using your eyes once again, if you observe a red or yellow flame, there is something wrong with your appliance or you may have a leak.
Chance are that your burners just need cleaning and, in any case, you should have gas appliances serviced at least every two years, or more often if recommended by the manufacturer.
But red and yellow flames are also indicative of the production of carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas.
So, call a gas fitter for a service call as soon as possible.
Scorching or Soot
If you see scorching or soot in an unusual location on the appliance, it may indicate a leak when the appliance is turned on.
For example, a burner connection that is leaking may create a flame in an unintended place.
Pilot Lights That Go Out
Whilst pilot lights are much rarer in modern gas appliances, they still exist.
Leaks are one cause for a pilot light to keep going out.
If you have that problem, it is time for a service call.
Dead or Dying Plants or Trees
If an underground gas leak occurs caused by corroding pipes or other deteriorisation, plants or trees nearby may start dying.
Plants are very sensitive to atmospheric changes.
If there is no other obvious reason for the tree/plant problem and they are near or on top of a buried gas line, it is worth getting it checked with a gas detector.
Leaking gas may even affect indoor plants.
Feeling Unwell Due to Possible Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Nausea, headaches, difficulty or irregular breathing, fatigue, chest pain, flu like symptoms, dizziness or light-headed, and drowsiness can all be signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Properly functioning gas appliances are quite safe.
A blue flame is one indication of proper function and complete combustion.
As discussed, malfunctioning units may generate carbon monoxide, due to incomplete combustion.
If you experience any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning while operating your indoor gas appliance, you should stop using it until it is serviced by your gas fitter.
If you do have a gas leak, turn off the gas at the meter of gas bottle.
Also, if safe to do so, leave windows and doors open and then evacuate the building.
Do not operate any electrical switches or any other ignition sources, including telephones.
Only call for assistance from a safe location.
If there is a fire involved, just evacuate immediately and call for help as soon as possible.
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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.