There’s nothing worse than the smell of rotten eggs in the morning—and no we’re not talking about the eggs chickens lay—but the rotten smell of a natural gas leak from somewhere in your house.
Gas leaks are highly flammable and can be extremely dangerous if left unattended, and requires immediate attention. It’s important to be able to identify the signs of potential leaks and the steps involved to take action. So, strap yourself in and let’s get to the bottom of your leak together.
How do gas leaks occur?
A gas leak can occur anytime, anywhere there is a gas appliance in and around the home. Generally, from a damaged pipe, old/faulty appliance, or corrosion of the seals on your appliance. This causes natural gas to leak out from the pipeline or appliance and into your home. Getting into the habit of regularly inspecting your gas appliances and hot water system helps identify and prevent possible gas leaks from occurring.
Signs of a gas leak
It’s important to recognise that pipes or appliances fuelled by natural gas can develop cracks or leaks. Natural gas often appears odourless making it a little tricky to recognise in its original state. However, there are signs you can follow to make leaks a little easier to detect.
Rotten egg smell
Due to the odourless and colourless nature of natural gas, to help with detection, gas companies have incorporated chemicals that give off an unpleasant odour similar to the smell of sulphur or rotting eggs.
If you notice a hissing sound coming from any gas lines, appliances or around your hot water system, this can be an indication your unit may be leaking gas. If there’s a clear rotten eggs smell in the same spot, you’ve got a gas leak and need to take immediate action.
Gas leaks can stunt a plants growth or cause them to die as the ability for them to absorb oxygen is heavily reduced. Plants that are well maintained yet dying may be a sign of a gas leak in the area.
Higher gas usage
If the gas usage on your next bill is dramatically higher than the previous, this could be an indication that gas is leaking from somewhere within, or outside, your home.
When the flame on your hot water system or stove turns orange instead of blue, this can imply your unit is producing carbon monoxide gas due to incomplete combustion and wasted gas, which is harmful to the human body and requires immediate attention.
The dangers of gas leaks
Natural gas is considered the cleanest fossil fuel on the market, producing the least amount of carbon dioxide in comparison to other alternatives, although due to its colourless nature and ability to dissipate into air, it can also be very dangerous.
Being a HIGHLY FLAMMABLE substance, when a spark or flame from an appliance encounters natural gas, it can cause a FIRE or worse, an EXPLOSION. Even a small leak in your home can provide enough fuel for the gas to ignite and cause serious harm to you, your property, and those around you. The INHALATION of natural gas, particularly in confined spaces such as your home or office, can cause trouble breathing, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Prolonged exposure and higher concentrations can lead to chest pain, loss of consciousness, nose bleeds, poisoning, flu like symptoms, depression and other respiratory problems to name a few.
A gas leak can even impact the health of your beloved pets, causing them to have trouble breathing, feel disorientated, lethargic, and/or cause vomiting.
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING also becomes a very real possibility. Being the by- product of natural gas and highly toxic, carbon monoxide enters your bloodstream and reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the body’s vital organs and tissues. As the most common type of poison inhalation, carbon monoxide should not be taken lightly as its odourless nature makes it hard to detect and can be fatal at higher concentrations.
Gas leaks can also contribute to global warming and other environmental issues. Leaks from damaged pipes or other faulty equipment allows methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas and significant climate change contributor, to enter the earth’s atmosphere. Methane is more potent and over 100 times more destructive to the earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide and a major factor in the war against climate change.
What to do in the event of a gas leak
Gas leaks are extremely serious and require immediate action, so it’s important to remain alert and act accordingly if you suspect a leak in your home. Follows these steps in the event of a gas leak to help keep both you and your family safe:
- Turn off the gas at your gas meter or main unit.
- Turn off all appliances including electronic devices and pilot lights.
- Open all windows and doors within your home to let in fresh air (if safe to do so)
- Leave your house immediately and advise your gas supplier of the issue
- Contact your local No Probs plumbing expert on 9315 5545 to come out and inspect the problem.
It’s important to follow the advice of your local No Probs plumber and not return to your house until it is safe to do so. To better protect your family, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector to help alert you of the presence of natural gas within your home.