Natural gas is safe and convenient… when installed correctly. But gas leaks can occur. Over a period of time gas pipes can warp, bend, or break. This damage can create an extremely dangerous leak. If you suspect a leak, evacuate the area immediately and call 911.
Over 73 million residential, commercial, and industrial premises in the U.S use natural gas. Natural gas is highly flammable, and if it leaks out of pipes into unprotected environments, it could easily ignite. Gas explosions are extremely dangerous. This is why it’s so important to know the signs of gas leaks and how to prevent issues with your gas pipes.
What is a gas leak?
A gas leak happens when natural gas leaks from a pipeline into any area where the gas should not be present. Even a small leak can gradually build up into an explosive concentration of gas. Leaks can also kill vegetation, like large trees, for example, and may release powerful greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Natural gas is composed mainly of methane. Methane is an asphyxiant that pushes oxygen out of enclosed spaces. Methane is also extremely flammable.
What are the signs of a gas leak?
If there is a gas leak in your home, you might notice:
- A sulfur or rotten egg smell
- A whistling or hissing noise near a gas line
- A white cloud near a gas line
- Bubbles in water
- A damaged gas pipe
- Dead houseplants
- A higher gas bill
Whenever there’s a gas leak in an enclosed space, the methane in the gas reduces the amount of oxygen in the air within that space. This can cause detrimental physical symptoms. These symptoms can often include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Flu-like symptoms
- Eyes and throat irritation
- Mood swings
- Chest pain
- Pale skin
- Lack of appetite
- Ringing in the ears
How do gas leaks happen?
Over a period of time, gas pipes can warp, bend, or break. Exposure and use corrodes old gas lines, wearing away at the outer material until hairline fractures form. As they age, home supply lines may come partially unseated from appliances, causing leaks. These leaks are especially dangerous because of how close they are to flames.
Along with old pipes, gas leaks can also be the result of poorly fitted or faulty appliances. If you have an appliance that is badly fitted, gas can escape from the hose that leads into your appliance or from around the seal.
The possibility of a gas leak is why it’s crucial to make sure a professional installs your gas appliances. The same goes for when you’re having old appliances serviced. Always make sure you hire a professional for gas-related work.
What should I do if I think I have a gas leak?
If you suspect you have a gas leak in your home, you need to leave as soon as possible. Get your entire family (remember the pets!) out of the house. Do not start anything that could generate a spark, like a car engine, for example. Don’t use light switches or electrical devices. Turn off appliances that are burning gas, like stoves and furnaces. Then get out.
Once you have left your house, call 911. It’s also important to call your energy company and report the leak. Even if you’re not 100% sure there’s a leak, it is extremely important to follow precautions—better to be safe than sorry!
Once you’re in a safe space and no longer in the gas leak danger zone, call the team at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing! Our experts will locate and fix your gas leak to ensure it doesn’t happen again.