You don’t need professional tools to detect a natural gas leak. This is a good thing. Natural gas can be harmful and deadly. It is also flammable and explosive, which may lead to costly damage; at the very least, a leak will lead to higher gas bills. Annual furnace maintenance prevents many issues, but knowing how to detect a gas leak can save lives in an emergency.
How Does a Natural Gas Leak Occur?
A gas leak can happen when there’s a hole or rupture in a gas line. Corrosion is often a cause of damage, especially with old gas pipes. Natural gas can also seep out from poor connections. A malfunctioning furnace or other gas appliance can also leak. The situation is dangerous because natural gas contains methane. Like carbon monoxide, which may also be present if your furnace is malfunctioning, it’s colorless and odorless yet extremely dangerous.
How to Detect a Natural Gas Leak
Determining if you have a natural gas leak is simple. Leave your house and contact the authorities if you notice any of these ominous warning signs:
- Sulfur/Rotten Egg Smell: Natural gas isn’t visible and doesn’t have an odor on its own. Gas companies add a substance called mercaptan to make it detectable. Mercaptan has a distinct sulfur odor. Therefore, the presence of a gas leak is unmistakable.
- Unusual Symptoms: Aside from dizziness and lightheadedness, exposure to natural gas can trigger eye and throat irritation, headache, nausea, chest pain, breathing difficulties, irritability, ringing in ears, and nosebleeds. If there’s no other explanation for these, evacuate your home and call for help.
- Unusual Sounds Near Gas Lines: A whistling or hissing noise from a gas line usually means it has a substantial leak. This is only reliable if the gas isn’t moving through a confined space. But there are other telltale signs of a natural gas leak.
- Different Flame Color on a Stove or Range Top: The burner on a gas appliance should give off a blue flame. The gas combusts in the presence of oxygen. If the flame is orange or red, it’s a sign the oxygen in the air is being replaced by gas.
- Bubbles Form On the Gas Line: Mix a teaspoon of soap or dish detergent and apply it to a pipe, connection, or fitting where you suspect a gas leak. If bubbles form, then gas is escaping from that location. Call an emergency plumber or the gas company immediately.
How to Detect a Natural Gas Leak With Equipment
There are leak detectors and sensors you can buy. The most recognizable is a carbon monoxide alarm. Since carbon monoxide forms due to incomplete combustion of natural gas and other fuels, its presence often means there is a natural gas leak. A hybrid alarm that detects both carbon monoxide and explosive gases can offer even more excellent protection. You can also purchase natural gas and propane leak detectors in fixed and portable models.
Contact Sky Heating & Air Conditioning for Emergency Service
We’re available to provide emergency gas leak and furnace repair in Portland. Our technicians know how to detect a natural gas leak and fix the problem quickly, whether the source is a damaged gas line, blocked vent, or a faulty burner or heat exchanger. If your gas bill is higher, call and we’ll check for a hidden gas leak. Routine furnace maintenance can prevent one and is included in the Sky Signature Protection Plan. To request immediate assistance, call (503) 647-4330 now.