Most of us never think about our gas pipes. They simply provide safe, consistent access to fuel for our homes. However, over time gas pipes can start to corrode from weakened joint seals, building construction or renovation, rust deposits, or even just everyday wear and tear.
These factors can increase the risk of dangerous leaks, and it is vital that we are on alert for when our gas pipes need repair or replacement.
So, it is important to be aware of the warning signs of a potential gas leak in your home. Ignored leaks can lead to dangerous health issues, spikes in your utility bill, and even explosions. Keep an eye out for these warning signs that your gas pipes need attention immediately:
- “Rotten Egg” Smell – Natural gas is odorless, but utility companies add a sulfur compound called mercaptan that produces an unpleasant sulfur-like smell so leaks don’t go unnoticed. You may also hear the odor compared to dirty socks or rotting cabbage. It definitely does smell awful, but that scent is there for you and your family’s protection.
- Leak in the Gas Pipe – There are a few ways to identify a gas leak if you have access to the pipe itself. Since escaping gas condenses water vapor in the air, water droplets will form around the source of the leak. You also may be able to hear a faint hissing sound coming from your pipes. If you want to be sure, an easy way to confirm a gas leak is the “Bubble Test”. Spray soapy water onto the pipe. If the solution begins to bubble, gas is leaking out.
- High Gas Bill – If you notice an unexpected spike in your gas bill, this could be a sign of an uncontrolled leak. Comparing your last bill with previous bills will help you determine if the usage increase is substantial enough to warrant emergency gas leak detection services.
- Dead Vegetation – If your garden or grass is dying without cause, check to see how close they are to your gas line. The natural emissions from your pipe can deprive any of your plants of the oxygen in the soil surrounding a gas leak.
- Gas Poisoning – Leaks can lead to natural gas poisoning. Even a small leak can result in symptoms like headaches and nausea. Exposure to natural gas emissions often leads to flu-like symptoms as the gas displaces oxygen in the air. If multiple household members experience these symptoms around the same time, it could indicate a gas leak.
If there are any warning signs of a gas link, evacuate the building immediately and call your local utility company, or fire department if they are not available, for emergency assistance. Open any windows and doors on your way out to better ventilate your home, and make sure to evacuate with your pets when you leave.
When responding to the early signs of a gas link, make sure not to flip any switches or turn on any electrical equipment on your way out. Do not light a match, turn on (or off) any lighting fixtures, and do not use your landline phone, as any spark is incredibly dangerous. Even turning your car on could potentially ignite the gas and cause an explosion if there is a leak.
Follow any instructions given by your local utility company or emergency responders regarding evacuating or sheltering in place. You recognized the danger, now leave the solution to the professionals with proper protective equipment and training. Your safety is the top priority.