Professional Plumbing Tips

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How to Detect a Gas Leak in Your Home

A gas leak in your home is a frightening prospect. An overlooked gas leak can cause thousands of dollars in damage and result in severe injury or death if someone is exposed to carbon monoxide or caught in an explosion. Therefore, it is vitally important to recognize the signs of a gas leak and contact a professional plumber if you suspect a leak in your home.

gas line heating up gas stove top

Signs of a Gas Leak

  • A smell of eggs or sulfur. One common sign of a gas leak is the smell of rotten eggs or sulfur. Although natural gas is inherently odorless and colorless, gas companies add mercaptan, a harmless chemical with that distinctive unpleasant sulfur odor, to ensure that people can quickly and easily detect a gas leak.
  • Visible white or dusty air. Although natural gas is colorless, escaping gas will often stir up nearby dust. If you can't account for a swirl of dust in the air, be sure to check nearby gas pipes for a leak.
  • Hissing sound. If you hear a hissing sound near a gas pipe, it could be the sound of escaping gas.
  • Check your gas bill. If the usage on your gas bill shows higher than normal usage, it is possible that you could have a gas leak.

Causes of a Gas Leak

  • Faulty Appliances. Gas water heaters, ovens, and other appliances can develop worn seals and fixtures if they are not properly maintained and can allow gas to escape into your home. Additionally, malfunctioning pilot lights for a gas appliance can go out, but leave the gas still running.
  • Damaged or Worn Gas Pipes. Gas pipes with damaged or worn spots can allow natural gas to seep into your home.
  • Clogged or malfunctioning exhaust fans, ducts & chimneys. All gas-based appliances have exhaust fans and ducts to allow excess gas and exhaust to vent from the home. If these ducts are not properly maintained, they can become clogged, allowing gas and carbon monoxide to build up.

Safety First

If you suspect a gas leak in your home, the most important thing to do is evacuate the building to ensure the safety of all people and animals in the vicinity. While inside, avoid using lighters, ovens, electronics such as cell phones, or anything that could ignite the gas. Even if you only suspect a leak but cannot find the location, take safety precautions and contact a professional to assist you with assessing the dangers and necessary repairs.

Preventive maintenance is the best way to avoid gas leaks in your home. Have a professional plumber check your gas-run appliances for deterioration or faulty pilot lights. Be sure to regularly check your gas bill for any unusually high usage and keep your gas pipes and exhaust ducts in good repair. For assistance with your gas line maintenance, contact our expert plumbers at Brian Wear Plumbing today.

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