Do’s and don’ts in a gas leak

January 10, 2022   By Lisa Iscrupe

Do’s and don’ts in a gas leak

If you suspect a natural gas leak in your home, knowing what not to do is as crucial as knowing what to do. Here’s how to recognize the signs of a gas leak in your home and the next steps to take if you suspect a gas leak.  

Signs of a gas leak

A gas leak in your home can be identified by smell or auditory signs, or by the presence of physical symptoms. If you suspect a gas leak, clear all people and pets from the building immediately. Then call 911 and your natural gas utility

Common indicators of a gas leak include:

  • Bad smell, similar to rotten eggs
  • Hissing sounds coming from gas lines
  • Headaches or dizziness

Less common indicators of a gas leak include:

  • Dead grass or dying plants near gas lines
  • Odd animal behavior
  • Sore throat or irritated, burning eyes 
  • Nausea and fatigue
  • Higher than normal gas bills

What to do if you suspect a gas leak 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Because natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, natural gas companies add mercaptan to natural gas to give it a distinct and unpleasant odor to help detect leaks in natural gas pipelines. Mercaptan is a harmless chemical that smells like rotten eggs.”

DON’T DO
Smoke. Do not use a lighter or matches.  Evacuate all people and pets.
Make a spark. This includes using cellphones, flashlights, and other electronics.  Call for help once outside (not inside the house). 
Turn on electrical switches. This includes turning lights on or off, or operating appliances.  Leave doors open.

Appliances that may leak gas

If you smell gas in your home, here is a list of possible culprits. Not all appliances use gas, and the appliances in your home may vary based on make and model. 

Stove or oven Yes
Clothes dryer Yes
Fireplace (gas logs)  Yes
HVAC unit Yes
Water heater Yes
Refrigerator Yes
Furnace Yes
AC unit No
Radiator  No

Free gas leak checks

Many utilities provide free gas leak checks for residents in their service areas. Contact your natural gas supplier today to inquire about scheduling a home check-up. You can also purchase a gas leak detector to check for gas levels throughout your home. Be aware that a gas leak detector is not the same as a CO2 (carbon dioxide) monitor. 

Who fixes gas leaks? 

Your natural gas supplier is responsible for the gas lines that run from the street to your gas meter. Everything else is your responsibility. Many natural gas companies have protection plans that you can add to your natural gas bill for a small monthly fee.  You can also contact a plumber if you need gas line repairs in your home. 

 

 

Lisa Iscrupe is a writer and editor who specializes in energy, the deregulated electricity market, and solar power. Her work has been referenced by CNN, The Daily MBA, The Media Bulletin, and other national sources. Follow her at @lisaiscrupe.

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