Both extremely dangerous and unfortunately common, gas leaks are something every homeowner should know how to safely detect. According to the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, there are more than 300 carbon-monoxide-related deaths and over 200 carbon monoxide poisoning hospitalizations per year in Canada. With proper knowledge of gas leaks, you can hopefully prevent putting yourself or your family in danger. In any case, if you suspect there is a gas leak in your home, immediately remove yourself and other inhabitants from the home.
Physical Symptoms of a Home Gas Leak
Gas leaks are no joke. The signs of one will not only be exhibited around your home, there may also be physical symptoms affecting you and other inhabitants of the space. If there is an active gas leak in your home, you may notice several symptoms that would be similar to some that people commonly experience when sick with the flu or a cold. Such symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Difficulty breathing
- Mood changes
- Chest pain
- Eye and throat irritation
These effects are a result of the reduced oxygen and air circulation coming through your home. If, by any chance, you come into direct contact with the gas, your skin may turn pale and/or blister. As well as this, be aware that your pets will also be susceptible to a gas leak. In addition to troubled breathing, mood/behavioral changes, disorientation, lethargy, loss of appetite, sore throat, red/watery eyes, or vomiting, dangerously high levels of the gas can cause your pet to fall unconscious.
Common Places for Gas Leaks
It is important to know where the most vulnerable areas in a house for a gas leak to spring are. Firstly, it is very common for a gas leak to crop up where pipes are joined together at the fittings — some places to look are flexible supply lines, old shut-off valves, regulators, unions, risers, and tees. Leaks can occur if these linkage points are disturbed or are not tight/secure enough.
Moreover, leaks are also regularly found where there is “black iron” piping that is not properly protected against the elements. The intrinsic disadvantage of this kind of piping is that it is not resistant against corrosion, and it must be prevented from remaining wet. If this pipe is buried in the ground without protection, it tends to rust away until it starts to crumble. This is especially common right at the ground level where it gets consistently hit by string trimmers.
If you have just had a new roof installed, your home could also be vulnerable to gas leaks. This is because corrugated stainless steel lines (CSST) on newer homes can easily be punctured by roofing nails when the line has been installed too close to the roof. The leak is sometimes noticeable right away, but in other circumstances, it can be months until evidence of a leak appears. As such, it could be worth it to have your gas lines checked by a trusted technician at Milani if your home has a CSST system. The technician can also check the vent piping on top of your water heater to make sure it is properly attached to the heater, as this protects you from carbon monoxide. If you are unsure of whether or not you have a CSST system installed, give Milani a call today so one of our expert technicians can help you out.
Signs of a Gas Leak
If you are concerned that you might have a gas leak but are not certain, there are some critical signs that you can observe to either confirm or deny your suspicions. Utility companies add a chemical to natural gas that is designed to give it a distinct odor. If you notice the unpleasant smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, this is an indicator of a gas leak in your house. You may also hear a hissing or whistling noise coming from your gas line. This sound is caused by gas passing through any unsealed cracks or ruptures through the line.
Once a gas leak occurs, condensation may start to form near the damaged gas pipes. In addition to the formation of moisture, bubbles can start to form in water that is located near the gas leak. It’s crucial that you pay close attention to each area in your house to protect yourself from the harmful health consequences of a gas leak. The second most noticeable symptom (after the smell) of a gas leak is dead houseplants. If you notice the sudden death of your houseplants or higher gas bills than usual, you most likely have a damaged gas line behind your wall or a loose connection to an appliance.
If you smell what seems to be gas inside the home, look for gas appliances and gas piping nearby:
- Gas fireplace
- Outdoor grill on the other side of the wall
- Water heater
If the smell is outside, you may even notice dead grass. If your gas line has leaked underground for long enough, it could even have caused the grass above it to die. Any information you gather can help reduce the time it takes for your technician to locate the leak, which will ultimately save you money and a lot of stress!
What To Do if You Have a Gas Leak
Should you unfortunately encounter a gas leak in your home, you should keep the following things in mind. In case of an emergency, make sure you are aware of where your gas shut-off valves are as well as how to operate them. If the smell of gas becomes extremely noticeable and overwhelming, you should leave the house at once and then contact your local professionals to treat the matter. When it comes to anything involving gas, you should always leave it to a licensed and insured technician to get the job done safely and properly.
In the event of a gas leak, DO NOT:
- Use a cell phone
- Open a garage door
- Operate an electric switch
- Smoke or have an open flame in the area of a gas smell
- Start a vehicle in the area of the leak
Gas Leak Prevention Tips
Schedule Regular HVAC System Maintenance
As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to have a licensed technician assess your furnace system every time the season changes. Our professional technicians at Milani are trained to inspect for gas or carbon monoxide leaks. They will also ensure a leak does not spring due to a corroded gas shut-off valve, deteriorated or loose gas line fittings, improper furnace installation, or minute fractures on old gas line sections.
Replace Old & Damaged Gas Shut-off Valves
An HVAC technician will examine your gas fittings and valve for signs of corrosion, but this is something you can safely do yourself beforehand if you so wish. The shut-off valve tends to need replacing any time your furnace does, but there is a chance it might need servicing/replacing earlier than that.
Conduct Inspections For Leaks Yourself
Before you call a professional at Milani, you can survey for gas leaks yourself by turning off all gas appliances completely and then looking at your gas meter. If it continues to spin even though all known gas appliances are switched off, it might be a leak. In this event, you should evacuate your family and pets out of the premises, and then you should call your gas company.
Replace Old & Damaged Gas Fittings
When your home’s gas line infrastructure is past its prime, you can hire one of our seasoned HVAC experts to perform a leak detection test and replace any corroded fittings as needed. This can usually be done when you’re already replacing your home’s furnace.