Gas leaks in your home are incredibly scary and dangerous, however, the good news is that they’re preventable. In general, regular HVAC maintenance can prevent a gas leak and many other problems that could potentially arise from HVAC issues.
Signs You Have a Gas Leak
There are many signs to look out for if you are worried about a gas leak in your home. One of the most recognizable signs is a pungent sulfur or rotten egg smell. It has also been described as a skunky smell.
That rotten egg smell comes from an odorous gas called mercaptan, not natural gas. Mercaptan is put into gas lines in order to alert homeowners of a gas leak since natural gas has no smell or color.
Another potential sign of a natural gas leak is when your indoor and outdoor plants begin to die quite rapidly without a clear reason. Sometimes, this appears in your outdoor plants near your gas line when they turn brown and start wilting.
An underground gas leak will hinder plants from getting their proper amount of oxygen, thus changing their color.
Hissing Noises from The Furnace
Hissing sounds coming from your furnace are another clear sign of a potential gas leak. This is because natural gas is pressurized in both the gas lines beneath your home and in the furnace’s heat exchanger.
Once there’s a leak, the release of the pressurized gas will make a hissing sound. If you want to listen to your furnace for that hissing sound, you should do it while it’s off since the other ambient furnace noises can cover up the sound of hissing.
What to Do if There’s a Gas Leak
As soon as you suspect a gas leak in your home, you should evacuate. While you are leaving your home, keep the doors and windows open as a way to ventilate the air. You should not return to your home until the issue is fixed.
Once everyone is outside and away from the gas leak, you should call the authorities to report the leak. You can contact 911, your local fire department, or the emergency hotline of your utility company.
What you should NOT do in the case of a gas leak:
Find the source of the gas leak yourself
Repair the leak yourself
Use (or even unplug) electronics while inside the home
Stay in your house
Keep windows and doors closed
Neglect to report the situation to the proper authorities and professionals
Use matches or lighters inside the home
As long as you follow proper procedures, you should safely be able to escape from the gas leak in your home.
Consequences of an Untreated Gas Leak
Because natural gas is extremely flammable, it poses a high risk of fire or explosion in your home if there is a leak. This is why it’s important not to use electronics or other flammable substances in your home during the leak, as even this action could potentially start a fire.
Gas leaks can also cause several health issues. Exposure to gas can cause headaches, nausea, weakness, and fatigue. In addition to the gas itself being dangerous, it can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide exposure can have fatal consequences, especially if untreated. Some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and nausea. If you or a family member are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.
How to Prevent a Gas Leak
Luckily, gas leaks are easy to prevent. One of the best ways to prevent a leak is to schedule routine maintenance on your HVAC unit. Many HVAC companies will test for gas and carbon monoxide leaks during regular maintenance checks.
They will also do many maintenance tasks to ensure that a gas leak will be unlikely, including inspecting fuel line connections, checking wiring for rust and corrosion, and more.
You can also check for gas leaks by turning off all your gas appliances and then examine your gas meter. If the meter’s dials are spinning, you likely have a gas leak. Checking your meter regularly is a good routine to follow, not only to monitor for leaks, but to pay attention to your gas usage.
Lastly, you should have any old gas fittings replaced. You’ll know that your piping system requires a replacement if you notice rust, cracks, and corrosion. Once you feel it’s time for a replacement, contact professionals to ensure that the job is done correctly and safely.
If you’re having any issues with your HVAC units and gas lines, contacting a professional is the best way to resolve them as quickly and safely as possible.