Natural gas is used to heat millions of homes in America. It can be utilized within your heater, stove or water heater. In more recent years, we have been changing to a purely Electric System, however millions of homes still utilize gas within home appliances every single day. Natural gas is a great and cheap way to insure your home remains warm even in the coldest of weather, however it can also be extremely dangerous. So what to do if you detect a gas leak at home?
Most appliances should be checked at least once a year to ensure no leaks or blockages are in the gas lines. However, despite everyone’s best efforts accidents do and can still happen. These accidents can range from a pilot light going out, someone could accidently start an incorrect burner, or a crack can appear on a pipe. All of these have the same effect, they can potentially cause a gas leak. Gas leaks can be very dangerous, partially because they can go undetected for long periods of time and have long-lasting consequences.
How can you detect a gas leak?
There are numerous different ways you can detect a leak. Sometimes you can hear the gas escaping from the source of the leak, you can smell the gas in the air, or your carbon monoxide detector is going off. There is a chance that these leaks can go undetected for a concerning amount of time. If you notice any Dead vegetation, or foul smells such as rotten eggs or sulfur, those are signs of a gas leak.
In addition to these signs, you may notice some comes within yourself or other members of the household. These symptoms can be anything from being lightheaded all the way up to blistering skin.
What to do if you detect a gas leak at home.
If you begin becoming suspicious that you have a leak in your house, immediately turn all pilot lights off in the home, extinguish any additional open flame such as candles or burners, turn off all lights and open all windows. Only do this if it is a mild leak, as this will protect your home from the gas combusting. Evacuate the home and immediately contact your gas company. Let them know that you are suspicious that you have a leak.
If you begin experiencing symptoms of a gas leak, or otherwise notice the strong odor of gas, immediately evacuate the home. This includes housemates, pets and children. You need to act quickly as while some of the symptoms are mild, gas can cause a massive explosion. Contact the emergency number for your gas company or dial the emergency number for your area.
If you begin noticing severe symptoms, evacuate the home and immediately go to the emergency room. Report the incident to your gas company and have them come check for gas leaks.
What happens when the gas company comes to my home?
The company will send a technician out to complete a walk through as well as turn off the gas main to allow for a full inspection. During this inspection they use special tools to detect any amount of natural gas. They check any and all appliances, lines and the main meter. If nothing is detected, the technician turns the main line back on, as well as lights any pilot lights that were turned off for the check. They will give you a receipt, and the all clear to enter the home. If there are any special instructions regarding the house (such as airing it out), they will let you know before they leave.
How can you prepare before the emergency?
Your best defense is being knowledgeable of your house, main lines, meter, and shut off valves before an emergency even takes place. Make sure you know exactly where your meter is, and you understand how to turn it off. In case of an emergency, you will need to use the shut-off valve in order to cut all gas flow from your house. If it is unsafe to turn off the gas, call the emergency number and tell them of the situation. If it is possible for you to turn the gas off yourself, use a 12-inch adjustable wrench and turn the valve 1/4 in either direction. Continue this until the valve is completely closed with your pipe.
Never turn a gas main on by yourself. You will always want to wait for your gas company to send a professional out to ensure safety as well as liability.
Another way to remain safe when using gas in the home, is to ensure that you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Ensure that you have all of your combustible materials and chemicals locked safely away from any appliance which utilizes gas. Keep any loose paperwork such as newspapers and junk mail away from your stove top or other appliances.
After a Leak was detected
After your leak was detected and fixed by a professional, you will be given the all-clear to return to your home. Ensure that all of your carbon monoxide alarms are working and have fresh batteries in them. Conduct tests once a month to ensure they are working properly. During these tests you should walk to other rooms in your home to make sure you can hear the alarm going off. If you cannot hear the alarm going off, install a secondary alarm closer to the other rooms.
Finding a leak in your home is scary, however as long as it is fixed quickly and by professionals it should not be life threatening. You just need to be aware of the symptoms and signs of a leak and have a plan in place for if a leak occurs. Ensure everyone in your home is aware of what to do if you detect a gas leak at home, as this will avoid panicking and miscommunication during the emergency.