If you have gas appliances, such as a furnace or a gas stove, it’s important to be aware of gas leaks and to know the signs.
Having a natural gas leak in your home isn’t incredibly common. However, since they are dangerous, it’s still important that you know how to identify them, what to do if there is one, and how to prevent them in the future.
Having the help of a professional for an HVAC tune-up is one of the best ways to prevent a gas leak and keep your system running safely and efficiently.
Signs You Have a Gas Leak
There are a few distinct signs that there may be a gas leak in your home. Hissing sounds from the furnace and that foul rotten egg smell are the most well-known signs of a gas leak.
Did you know that the rotten egg smell associated with a gas leak comes from a substance put inside a house’s gas lines?
Natural gas is odorless and colorless, so a foul-smelling gas known as mercaptan is added to pipes. This smell is pungent and unpleasant, alerting you to a gas leak quickly. You’re also unlikely to mistake it for another source.
Dying or Browning Plants
If your indoor plants usually thrive suddenly appear to be dying or turning brown, this could indicate a gas leak nearby. Gas leaks suppress the amount of oxygen that plants can get, so they begin to brown or die rapidly.
Hissing or Whistling Noises
Hissing noises occur due to the pressurized natural gas leaking from the heat exchanger inside your furnace. You’ll hear these noises best when your furnace is off.
There are certain things that you should do and should not do in case of a gas leak in your home.
The most important thing to do is leave your home as soon as possible. If you can manage it, leave all the doors and windows open to ventilate the gas out of your home.
After everyone has evacuated, the next step would be to contact a professional. The fire department, police, and the emergency hotline of your gas company are all options to report the leak.
When there is a confirmed gas leak in your home, you should not try to find the source or control the gas leak by yourself. This is extremely dangerous, as a gas leak can spontaneously ignite or combust.
It’s also dangerous to use electronics (yes, even your phone) or flammable objects such as lighters or candles. Gas is highly flammable and doing so could cause a fire or explosion.
What to Do If Your House Has a Gas Leak
Consequences of an Untreated Gas Leak
The danger behind using electronics or other flammable devices is that natural gas is extremely combustible. Even the smallest electrical spark could cause a fire or explosion.
Therefore, you should drop everything and quickly leave your home. It may seem tempting to turn off the lights or any appliances, but you should leave everything the way it is. Also, avoid unplugging any electronics, as this could cause a spark and combustion.
Aside from the risk of fire or explosion, exposure to gas can have negative health effects. Inhaling too much natural gas can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. The natural gas itself makes you sick, but in some cases, it also can lead to severe or fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.
The symptoms of natural gas and carbon monoxide poisoning may include:
Visit the hospital immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
How to Prevent a Gas Leak
You can prevent a gas leak by ensuring that your gas lines and furnace are regularly maintained. In many cases, professionals will inspect your home for any potential gas or carbon monoxide leaks while inspecting your HVAC unit.
You could also check for a gas leak yourself regularly. To do this, you should make sure that any gas appliances are completely shut off.
Then, you check the dials on the gas meter. If the dials are not moving, you’re clear. However, if they are moving and you don’t know the source of the gas leak, you should evacuate immediately.
Another step that you can take to prevent gas leaks is replacing your gas fittings. It’s only natural that they will begin to rust or corrode over time. Once this happens, a replacement is necessary.
This is not a task that you should try to DIY, as professionals are trained to do it properly and safely.
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