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A Gas Leak Can be a Rotten Experience!

Jun 4, 2012

If suddenly one day you find your home smelling like rotten eggs, it could be because…well, your eggs have gone bad. But it’s far more likely that you might be dealing with a gas leak, which is an altogether far more serious problem.

Why rotten eggs?

Gas is odorless and colorless, and therefore extremely difficult to detect, which is why that smell has been added to it – it alerts you to the danger of a gas leak.

When gas escapes into a home, and especially into a poorly ventilated area such as the basement, it transforms the environment into a toxic, flammable and explosive area.

How can you tell if you’ve got a gas leak?

First of all, there’s that telltale sign of the strong rotten egg smell. Also, if it’s a big leak, you might experience some difficulty breathing. Secondly, if you’ve got natural gas detectors installed, an alarm will go off, alerting you to the fact that there is gas leaking into your home.

What to do if you suspect you have a gas leak or your gas detector alarm goes off:

  • Leave the house immediately.
  • DO NOT make calls from your home. Phones can actually produce a spark which could start a fire or explosion. Contact your local gas utility company or call 911 from a phone outside and away from your home.
  • DO NOT light a match or other combustible material.
  • DO NOT turn any light switches on or off, and DO NOT plug or unplug electrical appliances such as a television or vacuum cleaner. These activities also can produce a spark that could start a fire or explosion.
  • Do not re-enter the house until the gas company finds the source of the leak and corrects it.

Possible sources of the gas leak

While the safest and most responsible thing to do if you suspect a gas leak is to contact an expert, some of the methods that can be used to initially identify the source of the leak include:

  • Finding the room where the odor is strongest; chances are, one of the appliances in that room is the source.
  • Checking to see which appliances use gas, i.e., gas dryer, water heater, stove or oven.
  • Listening for the sound of gas escaping, like a hissing sound. Also check for any damaged connections on the appliance you suspect might be the culprit for the leak.
  • In some cases, liquid dish soap is added to an equal amount of water and applied to the hoses / connections with a paintbrush. When reaching the area where the leak is, bubbles form showing where the gas is escaping.

Repairing a gas leak

While there are some people who advocate fixing small gas leaks (e.g. hole in tubing) on your own, keep in mind that gas can be extremely dangerous and is very volatile. There’s no sense in taking any unnecessary risks; if you need to have a gas leak repaired, contact a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor to get the job done safely and correctly.

Most common causes of gas leaks

  1. Leaving an appliance in an unsafe condition. This includes leaving stove burners on but not burning, or moving an appliance without checking the gas connections.
  2. The use of very old or broken appliances.
  3. Poor installation of new appliances.