Kitchen With Gas Stove

Detecting And Dealing With A Gas Leak

Lauren Nowacki3 Minute Read
August 02, 2021

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We use natural gas every day for things like heating our home and our water, cooking our food and drying our clothes, but we don’t often pay it much attention. That is until we smell rotten eggs and wonder, “could there be a gas leak?”

A Gas Leak Is An Emergency

First and foremost, a gas leak is an emergency. If you smell gas and suspect there’s a leak in your home, have everyone, including pets, evacuate immediately. Open windows and doors on your way out, if possible. Move to a safe location a good distance from the property. Once outside, call 911 right away. You should call your gas company after calling emergency services.

Do not turn on any electricity, flip a switch or start an appliance. Do not use your phone indoors or use a lighter or matches. Do not start your car. Gas is extremely flammable and any of these actions could create a spark that could cause an explosion.

How To Detect A Gas Leak: The Importance Of Using Your Senses

When it comes to gas leaks, your senses can help save your life. There are a few ways to detect a gas leak with your senses. Smell is the most common way to identify a leak but there are audible and physical signs as well.

Smell

What does a gas leak smell like? Natural gas in the home is known for having a sulfur- or rotten egg-like smell.

In nature, natural gas is typically colorless and odorless. The gas used inside the home has a chemical added to it to give it the distinct smell of rotten eggs. This is actually a safety precaution put in place so homeowners can detect a leak.

While the sulfur smell is a key indicator of a natural gas leak, people with a diminished sense of smell, whether due to COVID-19 or another reason, may not smell natural gas. If you’re one of these people, read on for other important signs.

Sound

Sounds of hissing or whistling can be a sign of a gas leak, too. That’s because natural gas in your home runs through pressurized pipes. If the pipe is leaking, you’ll hear a hissing or whistling sound due to the pressure in the pipe.

Sight

There are also visual signs of a gas leak to watch out for. These include:

  • Bubbles in wet areas around the home or suspected area
  • Dead plants
  • A white cloud or mist near a gas line
  • Dust near a gas line
  • Visible damage to the gas line

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Gas Leak Symptoms: Physical Warning Signs To Watch For

Carbon monoxide can be harder to detect than natural gas because, unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide is odorless. Carbon monoxide exposure can lead to hallucinations as well as similar symptoms to a natural gas leak. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to poisoning and even death. If a carbon monoxide leak is suspected or detected, open doors and windows to ventilate your home, evacuate the property and call 911 immediately. Do not go back into the home until emergency services say it’s OK to do so. Seek medical attention if you think you’ve been affected by exposure or feel ill.

The best way to detect carbon monoxide in the home is to install a carbon monoxide detector, which will sound a loud alarm when it senses a certain amount of carbon monoxide in the air.

Will A Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect A Gas Leak?

No, a carbon monoxide detector will not detect a natural gas leak. That’s why it’s important to know how to detect a gas leak.

The Bottom Line: Know The Signs, But Call For Help When In Doubt

Remember, a gas leak is an emergency. If you notice any of these gas leak symptoms or signs or suspect a gas leak, evacuate the home and call emergency services. When in doubt, call.

Knowing how to check for a gas leak is just one of the many important things to know as a homeowner to ensure your home is safe. Ensure the safety of you and your family by learning more tips to keep a healthy home.

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Lauren Nowacki

Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.