Gas Leak detection

How to detect gas leak

Having a gas leak presents a serious health hazard that leads to dozens of deaths each year, both from poisoning and explosions. Gas leaks have been called a “silent killer” because neither carbon monoxide nor natural gas have any odour or colour. Nowadays natural gas is formulated to have a strong odour that’s like a rotten egg which is an incredibly useful safety measure that serves as a warning and aids with gas leak detection. You can ensure the safety of your household with some basic safety precautions, especially taking sensible steps when you notice a leak.

What causes gas leaks?

The best protection is making sure that every seal, hose and appliance that could potentially leak gas is handled responsibly by a licensed professional. This is because it’s very common for gas leaks to happen with older, faulty appliances because the gas hose is poorly fitted or the seal has fallen apart. The biggest culprits are boilers or cookers that were bought second hand or subject to a DIY repair that simply wasn’t done correctly. These leaks also tend to be the most dangerous because, of course, the combination of gas with fire is extremely unfortunate. This is why it’s so important to make sure you buy quality appliances and are very careful when buying second hand. They should always be installed by a professional, and when they need servicing make sure this is done by a professional as well.

Detecting a gas leak

The smell of gas, that strong rotten egg odour associated with natural gas, is the first major warning of a leak. But it’s possible the leak is in a location where you won’t be able to notice it so gas leak detection may depend on other known warning signs you should also be aware of.

gas leak signIt’s ideal for your appliances to have a sharp, blue flame because orange and yellow could indicate a leak. Another bad sign would be if the air smells musty or you notice a lot of condensation on your windows. If the pilot light is constantly going out this would be another warning of a potential leak. You should also look out for soot and scorch marks on your appliance, especially when it’s older or was bought second hand.

In the case of carbon monoxide there is not going to be a tell-tale smell to help you out, which is why having a working carbon monoxide detector is very important. If there is a carbon monoxide leak you may notice some physical symptoms that potentially indicate a problem. You may begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous or just generally ill. As soon as you notice these symptoms go out in to the fresh air and try to detect if you feel better. If you do, this could be consistent with a carbon monoxide leak.

What to do if you detect a gas leak

If you smell gas, or have some other reason to believe there is a leak, it’s important to stay calm and take the necessary steps to ensure your safety. It depends if it’s a gas leak in house or somewhere else on your property.

Steps to take for a gas leak in house:

Gas Leak detectionImmediately turn off all your gas appliances, including the pilot lights. Open all the doors and windows to get some fresh air ventilating through your space to help the gas dissipate. However, do not use a fan to try to help this process. You should not turn anything on or off, including light switches, and don’t use a flashlight or telephone. This is because natural gas is highly flammable and there is a strong risk of a disastrous spark that will start a fire. You should absolutely not smoke, light a match or use a lighter! Locate your home’s gas meter and turn off the supply by rotating the valve 90 degrees until it’s positioned horizontally. The gas meter will be in a metal box, possibly at the front of the house or possibly in a bathroom. At this point it’s important for all occupants to be outside the home and at a safe distance. Use a mobile phone, yours or a neighbour’s, to contact emergency services or a licensed gas fitter to inspect your home and repair any leak. Do not re-enter your home until it’s been confirmed as safe by a professional.

Steps to take for a leak outside the house:

If you’re smelling the gas on the street or somewhere on your property outside the house you should turn off your gas meter and contact a licensed gas fitter to detect if there is a possible leak and repair it.

The prospect of having a natural gas or carbon monoxide leak is quite scary and rightly so. But you can protect yourself and your family from this danger by ensuring your appliances are well maintained and by knowing what to do in the event of a leak.