Gas leaks are a danger that should never be taken lightly. If left unaddressed, a gas leak can cause fatigue, illness, and even death. Because of this potential danger, we’ve put together an easy to reference guide on what causes them, how to recognize their presence, and what to do if you notice one in your home or business.
What causes a gas leak?
Gas leaks occur for a wide variety of reasons, but the common are improperly installed or maintained appliances or furnaces. Furnaces are the most common culprit. Gas escapes from a poorly fitted, loose, or broken furnace supply line and builds up until something is done about it.
How do I recognize a gas leak?
Let’s start with an interesting fact: gas is actually odorless. The tell-tale rotten-egg aroma that is frequently attached to it comes from sulfur-based compounds known as thiols. Thiols were added to natural gas to help detect it during leaks after a deadly gas explosion in 1937 at a school caused almost 300 deaths. This means that the easiest way to detect a gas leak is by smelling it. That isn’t the only way, however.
Carbon monoxide poisoning has distinct, flu-like symptoms. If you suddenly begin to feel nauseous, light-headed, fatigued, or dizzy, a gas leak could be a very real danger. An easy way to determine if symptoms are caused by carbon monoxide poisoning is by going outside. If fresh air makes you feel better, then it’s time to leave the home. Call a doctor, and get in touch with professionals to help you turn off the gas and address the leak.
The last and most subtle way to spot a gas leak is by paying closer attention to your home appliances. Does your pilot light always go out? Does the flame on your gas stove always look orange or yellow instead of blue? Are there any inexplicable scorch marks around any appliances? Those are all signs that one of your appliances is the source of a leak.
What if you notice signs of a gas leak?
If you smell gas in your home, immediately evacuate. Even if you know where the gas meter is, don’t take the risk yourself. Instead, immediately call a professional to come to your home. They will turn off the gas, find the leak, and fix whatever the problem is.
What problems can gas leaks cause?
There are, of course, the consequences that are obvious, including the danger of fires and explosions. Aside from these dangers, there are more insidious ones to look out for, such as carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning is especially dangerous when a gas leak is slow and difficult to recognize. If left unaddressed, extended exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to irreversible brain damage or even death.
How can I prevent gas leaks?
If you’re having a new appliance or furnace installed in your home, do some research into the company doing the installation. Read reviews, look for accreditation, and talk to their technicians until you feel confident in them. Additionally, make sure to keep up with regular recommended maintenance for anything in your home that relies on a gas supply.
Finally, check on your carbon monoxide alarms. Change the batteries and test them to make sure they’re working regularly, so that they can help you when they need to.
You deserve to be warm, safe, and secure at all times. This list will help you stay aware of the risks and address them. If you ever find yourself in need of professional help, either with addressing a gas leak or installing a new home furnace, Ben Franklin Plumbing is always ready to help.