Common symptoms of natural gas leakage
More than 58 percent of homes in the United States use natural gas to power stoves, ovens, stoves, water heaters and other appliances, and 8 percent use oil, which includes heating oil, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). 1
But natural gas is very combustible. This means that it can generate a lot of heat when burning small amounts, but it also means that natural gas leaks can pose a risk of fire and serious explosion because they spread quickly and burn easily in a fire. . If you have a gas leak in your home, any electric spark or fire source can ignite the gas and the results can be devastating.
It is important for the whole family to be educated about gas leaks , as leaks in or around the house can be very dangerous. Even if it does not ignite, natural gas leaks at certain levels can suffocate you. In much the same way that carbon monoxide can kill the body by blocking the uptake of oxygen, natural gas, or LPG into the air at high concentrations. 2
Indoor signs of gas leakage
Be aware of the signs of a gas leak to ensure a safe life using natural gas. Gas leaks inside the house are the most dangerous, because the level of gas in the air can quickly reach levels that are toxic and highly explosive, so it is important to know the symptoms:
Unpleasant odor: Neither natural gas nor liquid propane have any color or odor, but manufacturers have additives that give the gas a very distinctive odor that almost anyone can detect. This substance, known as macaptan or methanol , is harmless but has a pungent odor. It is often described as smelling like rotten eggs or rotten cabbage. If you can smell it in your home, you are more likely to have a gas leak.
Hissing sound: The hissing sound that comes from around a gas-burning device is often a sign of a gas leak. This is a very dangerous situation, because it means that large amounts of gas are escaping. If you hear a gas leak, you will almost certainly feel it. Do not attempt to repair the connection yourself. Leave the house and contact the electricity company for a check.
Dead Plants Houseplants are very sensitive to any accumulation of gas in the air and may begin to die before you can smell the gas in the air. Damage to houseplants may indicate a slow leak in your gas that is otherwise undetectable.
Also look for evidence of gas leaks outside the home, including:
Visible air movement: A gas leak from an underground pipe can cause soil to be thrown into the air or plants to be blown away, as if by a breeze. Unusual air movement from the ground near the house is a possible sign of a gas leak.
Bubbles: Leaks in the gas pipe can sometimes cause bubbles in the humid areas around the house. A bubbling water pit may hide a leaking underground gas pipe.
Dying plants: Plants that live near a gas leak get sick and eventually die. While plants can wither and die for a variety of reasons, plants that die for no apparent reason can indicate gas leaks. Natural gas leaks block the flower’s oxygen source, and fruits and vegetables change color when in contact with natural gas. If you see dead or colorless plants surrounded by healthy green plants, it’s worth checking out.
Dry spot inside an area of wet ground. Gas leaks can dry out wet ground, so if you see an unusual spot of dry ground in a wet area, it may mean that a gas leak from the underground pipe is drying out the soil.
Earth on fire. A clearly visible blue or yellow flame coming from the ground, or a flame that appears to be floating above the ground, is a clear sign of a gas leak in an underground pipe. Get away from the area and contact the authorities immediately.
How to stay safe
If you suspect a gas leak in or around your home, stay calm, stop what you are doing (do not turn on or off any power switches or unplug anything), and go out immediately. Inhaling high concentrations of natural gas can lead to suffocation – a potentially fatal condition in which your body is deprived of oxygen and you may recognize it before it is too late. 3 When you are at a safe distance from home, contact your gas company to come and check for leaks. Facility technicians have special tools that can detect even small amounts of gas in the air.
Just because you do not recognize the familiar smell of rotten eggs does not mean that you may not be in danger. There may still be a small amount of gas that affects you and your family, so it’s best to be safe rather than sorry.