Natural gas leaks can be a major problem in any home. They are particularly dangerous for homeowners who have children or pets. A gas leak is not only dangerous for the people inside the home, but also for that outside of it. These leaks are something that should never be taken lightly. This article will help you identify the signs and dangers of natural gas leaks. So you can protect your family from this silent killer.
Outdoor signs of a gas leak
The most common signs of gas leak you can notice outside are:
- Lower than normal pressure – natural gas needs to be at ~14PSI. If your gas reading on the gauge falls below this it could signify there’s a leak somewhere close by.
- Gas Odor – although natural gas is odorless, it does have an unpleasant smell when mixed with air or other gases.
- Cracked pipe sealant on pipes – one of the most common causes for gas leaking into homes is cracked pipe seals. They need repair before they lead to damage inside your home.
- Sporadic nozzles from vents blowing instead of constant flow. This could indicate the gas leak outside is affecting natural gas pressure.
- Lower than normal ambient temperature – natural gas needs to be warmed up before it can flow. Cold weather could indicate a gas leak.
- The misty or foggy area near the ground – natural gas is lighter than air. The leaks will release gas in a mist form.
- Noise from appliances that isn’t normal – some natural gases like methane are combustible when mixed with oxygen. They can cause an explosion or fire which sounds different from other household noises and has more of a rumbling sound.
Indoor signs of a gas leak
In addition to mentioned leak signs outdoors, there are also various gas leaks indoors:
- Dead houseplants – when natural gas is leaking outside of the house and fills up inside with nowhere for it to go. Plants will die off from a lack of oxygen.
- Hissing sound – if you hear hissing coming from your pipes or vents then this may be an indicator that natural gas is present near or within your home.
- Yellow or orange flames – natural gas typically burns with a blue flame. If you notice yellow and orange colors then this may signal that the exposure to natural gas is from somewhere outside of the house (such as a pipe).
- Small Bubbles – natural gas typically has a natural color. If you notice small bubbles coming out of pipes or vents then this could be an indicator that the gas is present.
- Rotten egg smell – when a gas leak occurs, it will always have a “rotten eggs” smell. It is caused by the sulfur compounds that are involved with natural gas.
- Burning sensation in nose and throat – because natural gas does not have any smell by itself. The rotten egg odor can signal to us that there may be gas leaking into your home.
- Excessive Humidity – when natural gases escape into homes they put off water vapor (also known as a humidifier). It will cause excessive moisture build-up on windowsills and walls.
- Liquid bubbling – natural gas can cause natural phenomena such as the bubbling of liquids.
- Sooty black soot on walls and ceilings – this means there’s a leak in an area (such as near your furnace) where gas has leaked into the home. It causes this build-up of soot from all over the place. Natural gas contains carbon monoxide particles that flow to areas like vents and crevices. In case of carbon monoxide poisoning, call the emergency immediately.
- Leak detector going off or indicator light turning red – This indicates that you may be experiencing a gas leak for any number of reasons. This includes faulty appliances, insufficient ventilation, cracked pipe.
- White Mist or Fog – natural gas is a natural hydrocarbon. It means that it’s composed of hydrogen and carbon. When the gas escapes out into the air, it mixes with oxygen to form water vapor (H20). This is why you can see white mist or fog.
Is a Gas Leak Dangerous?
If the gas leaks in the home, it can be dangerous. Natural gas is odorless and colorless. You may not even know that a gas leak is happening until someone nearby lets out a sudden scream. Or something catches on fire. It’s for this reason why natural gas issues are such an emergency. Most people have no idea they’re bringing more danger into their homes every day. It’s done simply by turning on appliances like stoves, furnaces, heaters, and water purifiers.
The first sign of trouble? A natural gas leak detector going off or indicator light turning red. Though these monitors won’t protect your whole house from gas exposure. If you see white mist coming from vents or crevices around your house, go outside immediately and call 911.
Natural Gas Poisoning Symptoms and Signs
- Eye irritation or conjunctivitis, with red eyes and tearing.
- Coughing, wheezing (noise from narrowed airways), flu-like symptoms.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- “Explosive” diarrhea due to natural gas exposure on the intestines and colon. It’s less likely when the gas is breathed in through the nose. Because it’s absorbed by the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract before reaching the stomach.
- “Methane Mustard” symptoms: sudden onset of severe chest pain that worsens with deep breaths. Dry coughs followed by a hacking one. Shortness of breath progressing into full body suffocation causing unconsciousness.
- Mental confusion followed by unconsciousness within minutes. Death from natural gas exposure may take hours to days and is more likely without early treatment.
- Inability to breathe in the fresh air because the gas has filled up all available space inside a room or building.
Emergency procedures for natural gas leaks
- If you smell natural gas, leave immediately and call 911 or a local fire department.
- Leave your doors open when waiting to get the job done.
- Do not try to turn off the gas supply or light a match in an area with gas leaks. Natural gas is highly flammable and may ignite.
- In the event of a natural gas leak inside your home. Close all doors leading into the house if possible because any open door can allow air for combustion (e.g., burning) to enter from outdoors. Trigger an explosion that could cause further damage than just what was caused by the leaking gas source on its own.
- Shut down your heating system as well as any appliances running on natural gas. Ыo they don’t contribute additional fuel to potential ignition sources. These are pilot lights or electric heating elements.
What to do if you suspect a natural gas leak
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, follow these steps:
- Leave the premises immediately. Go to a safe location outdoors away from a source of the leak such as other homes, cars, garages, sheds, trees. Remain at this location until notified by authorities that it is safe to return indoors.
- If there are people who cannot leave because of medical conditions they need assistance with evacuation. Please contact Emergency Services (dial 911) for help.
What not to do if the gas leak happened
- Do not re-enter the building until the gas service has been shut off.
- Do not smoke or light a match near gas pipes that leak. Natural gas is an explosive material under pressure that could cause injuries or fatalities.
- Avoid breathing in fumes from leaking natural gas lines. Keep at least 20 feet away from them and shutting your windows if possible.
- Do not turn any electrical switches on or off. Do not use a telephone, operate elevator controls, or touch anything that may be electrically charged inside the building. Wait until gas service has been turned off from outside the building.
How to prevent gas leaks in your home
- Buy natural gas appliances only from a manufacturer who offers an extended warranty on their products.
- Keep natural gas appliances well maintained and in good working order. This will help to avoid leaks or other problems.
- Be sure your home is properly ventilated with fresh air. Natural gas is combustible so it needs oxygen for combustion to occur.
- Install gas leak detector devices available online that warn when gas levels are too high indoors.
- Check the burner flame if you smell natural gas. The blue color of the flame will change to yellow. If there’s no fuel present, have the service technician check for underground leaks. Dig near suspected areas where pipes may be leaking under the ground level.
Natural gas safety tips and information
- Always check gas appliances in the home to make sure they’re in good working order. This will help prevent gas leaks and other problems from happening.
- Make sure your home is properly ventilated with fresh air. You must have a safe supply of ventilation going into your house or apartment.
- Install gas leak detector devices available online that warn when natural gases levels are too high indoors. These detectors use carbon dioxide sensors. They also use infrared laser technology to detect any signs of leaking natural gasses inside the building. Warn homeowners before there can be an explosion! Keep these devices on hand just in case someone smells something unusual while cooking.
- If you smell natural gas in your home, do not light a match or turn on any appliance. They could create an open flame. This includes turning on the stove, oven, or water heater.
- Get out of your house immediately and call emergency services before calling a gas company. In this case, they can come shut off gas leaks as soon as possible! You should also contact them if there are no signs of leaking natural gasses inside the building after 24 hours (or sooner).
- Be aware of natural gas fumes – even when outside near pipes or tanks.
- Contact a professional and licensed plumber to check your gas pipe regularly.
Natural gas leaks can be dangerous and cause gas fires. It’s important to know how to detect gas leaks in the home. We outline a list of physical symptoms of a gas leak to help you prevent an accident. The simplest way is with a natural gas detector. They’re usually placed outside of buildings or near gas piping for monitoring purposes.
When using natural gas detectors, make sure you replace them every six months! It’s also important that everyone knows their local emergency contact number. In case there are any emergencies involving natural gasses leaking into a building. Or even if you suspect natural gases may leak.
This natural gas leak safety guide is brought to you by the experts at Meter & Tester. Gas leaks are one of the leading causes of home fires. It’s important that everyone knows how to deal with this emergency situation quickly and safely.