A gas leak can be the most dangerous malfunction in your house or apartment.
It can lead to explosion, fire, and death. This is a major reason it is worthwhile to schedule an annual maintenance call from a professional plumber: to detect gas leaks (and pipe leaks, too) before they cause a problem for you and your family. But there are several indicators of a gas leak you should watch out for.
Hissing Sound. If you hear a hissing sound anywhere near your gas pipes or furnace, investigate immediately. Hissing not only means there is a leak – it means there could be a big leak.
Dead Plants. Gas lines often run underground. A patch of dead plants on your lawn that does not seem to have another cause can indicate a leak under the soil.
Sulfurous, Rotten Egg Smell. Gas for your kitchen or furnace has a chemical additive, named mercaptan, that is hard to miss. Without mercaptan, gas would be undetectable because it does not have a smell or color. People experience the smell as rotten eggs, sewage, or sulfur.
The Bubble Test. The bubble test is a way you can determine whether you have a gas leak. Some leaks are rather small and barely emit enough mercaptan to be readily detectable. The bubble test is a way to proactively test for a small leak, particularly on anything that contains pressurized gas, like a propane tank. Here are the four steps:
- Mix water with a small amount of dish soap.
- Make sure the gas is on.
- Wipe down the suspected area with a cloth wet with the soap mixture.
- If you see bubbles forming, you have a gas leak. Inspect carefully, because the bubbles may be very small.
White Mist or Fog. Perhaps the most dangerous gas leak can be from a ruptured gas line on your property. White mist or fog is an indicator of a ruptured or broken pipe. Call the gas company immediately.
What Do You Do if You Find or Suspect a Gas Leak?
Open up windows and doors, and then you and your family should leave the area immediately. Do not attempt to turn off the gas to your property. Doing so can damage your pipes and even generate a spark that leads to an explosion.
With the exception of the bubble test, do not try to find the source of the leak. Call a professional who has the experience and equipment to find the source of the leak and repair it. Do not operate any electrical devices anywhere near the leak. Do not use a lighter or other form of sparking device. Even starting a car can generate a spark and cause an explosion. Evacuate all household members, including pets, and call the local gas company. If you cannot reach them, call the fire department.
If the gas has been turned off, do not turn it back on yourself. Let a professional do it, including a plumber or someone from the utility company.
If you suspect a gas leak, call the plumbing professionals at Plumbing Outfitters today. We can come out to find and repair your leak.