Natural gas is one of the safest fuels to use in your home, but if you have a faulty or poorly installed appliance or gas line, a leak can occur. Since natural gas is highly combustible and can cause a fire or explosion in open air in concentrated amounts, it’s important to know how to detect a leak and what to do if you suspect you have one.
Signs of a natural gas leak in your home
Natural gas — like carbon monoxide — is colourless and tasteless, so you need to pay close attention to pinpoint a leak. You’ll typically notice a strong smell — possibly accompanied by noises or other unusual clues — in your home. While gas leaks are rare, identifying these signs of a natural gas leak early on can help you protect your family and your home:
- You can smell it. While natural gas on its own is odourless, most providers purposely add a strong artificial smell to their natural gas to help you identify a leak. If you notice an odour of rotten eggs, sewage, or skunk in your home, you very well may have a leak.
- You can see signs of it. You may notice some odd visual signs that indicate a gas leak, such as your houseplants suddenly dying (despite your green thumb) or mysterious bubbles in still water. Visible damage to your gas line connection is a more obvious sign of a potential leak. If you notice damage to your natural gas pipe, call your gas provider’s 24-hour emergency line immediately.
- You can hear it. A hiss, roar, or whistle that’s out of the ordinary could indicate a high-pressure leak, especially if it’s close to a pipe.
Natural gas providers add a distinctive odour to their product to help you detect a natural gas leak — if you smell rotten eggs, sewage, or skunk in your home, you may have a leak.
What to do when there’s a natural gas leak in your home
If you suspect you have a natural gas leak, remain calm and follow these simple steps:
- Don’t touch anything that could be a source of ignition. This includes flicking a light switch, turning on an appliance, or even using your phone. Other ignition sources can be your car or a motor, so don’t start your vehicle, either. And above all, do not light a cigarette or fire up a match.
- Don’t try to solve the problem yourself. If there’s evidence of a leak or if a fire has started, don’t attempt to stop it or put it out on your own. Wait for your gas provider, local police, or fire authority to arrive and make the situation safe by identifying the source of the problem, clearing the area, and resolving the leak.
- Evacuate your home with your family and pets and call 911 or your gas provider’s 24-hour emergency line immediately — from a safe distance. Don’t assume someone will call on your behalf.
If you’ve identified a natural gas leak, don’t assume someone else will call to report it. Leave home immediately and call 911 from a safe distance.
To prevent a future gas leak, add routine maintenance of your home appliances and gas-powered equipment to your to-do list, including your furnace, fireplace, and stove. It’s also a vital task to test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly. You may also consider purchasing a handheld gas leak detector or sensor, depending on the age of your home or gas appliances. Finally, add your local gas provider’s emergency contact information to your phone’s contact list.
By following these safety measures, you can protect your household if a natural gas leak ever does occur in your home. Check out your local gas provider’s website for more information.
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