If you use natural gas in your home, you’re not alone. You’re part of a large club of more than 74 million members. That’s the number of customers in the United States who rely on natural gas for heating and cooling, cooking, and generating electricity.
Natural gas is the fuel of choice for a lot of people. But it does pose risks to those who use it.
The two main dangers of natural gas are combustion and asphyxiation. Deaths caused by gas line explosions get the most news coverage. However, more people die from natural gas related asphyxiation than from gas line explosions.
Don’t let news reports about the dangers of using natural gas keep you up at night. Instead, use safety precautions and feel confident in your home.
Here’s what you should know about natural gas safety and gas line repair.
I Think I Smell Gas
Did you know natural gas is odorless? Funny isn’t it that one of the easiest ways to determine a problem with gas is by smelling something that, well, doesn’t smell.
If you think you smell gas, you’re smelling mercaptan, a chemical added to gas by your utility company. Mercaptan is harmless but it does smell like rotten eggs.
The rotten egg or Sulphur smell is one way your gas company helps you detect a possible gas leak.
If You Can’t Smell It Listen for It
If there’s a gas pipe break, natural gas will escape. Sometimes when gas rushes through an opening in a pipe, it makes a hissing sound.
You might hear the leak and smell nothing. Hissing is an excellent clue that Houston has a problem. The louder the hiss, the bigger the problem.
Don’t ignore the sounds and smells of natural gas. Instead, call for gas line repair.
Safety Over Curiosity
Panic is common when people think they have a gas leak. That’s because we’ve all heard the news reports about natural gas disasters.
Rather than panic, remain calm and open your windows. Fresh air is one of the best first responses.
Beyond opening windows, help family members and pets leave the house until you determine if you do indeed have a leak.
Finally, don’t light up! Don’t flip the light switch. Don’t use any electrical appliances.
Sparks can cause an explosion if you have a gas buildup.
Check Your Appliances
Now that you’ve allowed some fresh air in and shooed everyone outside, do some of your own investigating.
Sniff around appliances that use gas. Usually, those include stoves, dryers, hot water heaters, and your HVAC unit. Also, check the pilot light on each appliance. If a pilot goes out, it can cause a strong gas odor.
Keep in mind new appliances may not have a pilot light. Many new appliances use electric ignition instead
If you do discover a leak coming from one of your appliances, turn off the gas to the appliance. Leave it off until you get it repaired.
The Bubble Test
Sometimes a faulty connection between an appliance and the gas line causes a gas leak.
You can use the bubble test and determine if you have a loose connection. The bubble test uses a mixture of soap and water. Rub the mixture on the line where you suspect a leak.
If you have gas escaping, you’ll see bubbles.
The easy fix is tightening the connection and then performing the bubble test again. What if that doesn’t work? Then it’s time to call a gasfitter-plumber in your area who can take care of a gas line repair for you!
I Smell Gas Outside
Gas leaks outside are more common than those in your home.
You’ll smell the same rotten egg odor. You may even hear hissing. What you might see outside that you won’t notice inside your home is dirt or plants blowing around when there isn’t a breeze.
If you have an inground swimming pool, you could also see bubbling water. That’s an indication of a gas pipe break. A more extreme sign is a flame floating above the ground.
Sometimes the gas meter to your home leaks. If you smell a strong gas odor around the meter, it’s best to call your utility company or a professional plumber.
Also, while the flame floating above ground might be fascinating, don’t let it mesmerize you for too long. Call the plumber!
Don’t Put Off Repairs
Gas leaks don’t disappear on their own. One of the worst things you can do if you think you have one is to ignore it.
Ignoring gas leaks puts you and your property at risk.
Remember earlier we mentioned asphyxiation? It’s what happens when you deprive your body of oxygen. Breathing a high concentration of natural gas fumes can lead to asphyxia.
Even if you don’t experience the most serious symptom of exposure to natural gas, you can still feel sick.
In fact, dizziness, nausea, and headache, along with unexplained fatigue are all symptoms of low-level gas exposure. If you can’t smell gas or hear it but you experience any of these symptoms, suspect a gas leak. Of course, it could be the flu or another illness, but you should still have your home checked for a natural gas issue.
Since natural gas is combustible, avoiding repairs could also result in an explosion or fire inside your home.
Ignorance is not better than knowledge. Wouldn’t you rather know you have a problem so that you can fix it as soon as possible?
Professional Gas Line Repair
Most homeowners enjoy the sense of accomplishment they get from DIY projects. Fixing a gas leak isn’t a DIY project.
You can investigate the leak and perform the bubble test. With the proper tools and materials, you may even repair a loose connection in the line. Beyond that, unless you’re a professional plumber, don’t try to handle a gas line repair on your own.
Call a licensed plumbing company instead. That’s us! We have over 30 years of experience helping customers with plumbing problems.
Contact us for a free quote on any plumbing repair, including gas lines.