There's no getting around it: natural gas leaks are scary. Natural gas provides clean, efficient, and relatively cheap energy for heating your home or running appliances, but it's also a highly flammable gas. A leak in your home's natural gas lines can pose a severe risk for fire, explosion, or physical symptoms such as headaches and dizziness.
Fortunately, leaks in gas lines are relatively rare. When these problems do show up, it's crucial to understand how to deal with them safely and effectively. These three tips will help ensure that you can quickly address any leaks before they lead to disaster.
1. Learn About Your Home's Natural Gas Plumbing
If your home uses natural gas, you should have a meter on the outside of your home. A valve just before the meter controls the flow of gas to your entire home. While you shouldn't touch this valve under normal circumstances, it's critical to know its location and how to operate it. If you believe there's a natural gas leak in your home, shutting off the supply to the house should be your first step.
Likewise, your natural gas appliances should each have their independent shut-off valves. Learn where these are and ensure you can access them when necessary. You'll need the location of these valves if you ever replace the appliances, but they're also critically important if gas leaks develop on the machines themselves or their fittings.
2. Trust Your Senses
Although natural gas is odorless, utility companies add a chemical to help you detect the presence of leaks. This chemical (mercaptan) smells similar to rotten eggs, and it's distinctive enough that you should be able to recognize even relatively small leaks. However, detecting leaks in this way means that you need to trust your senses.
If you can smell an odor in your home, never assume that it will go away on its own or that it's not a severe problem. Instead, turn off the main gas valve and contact your gas company before calling a plumber to repair the line. Never remain in your home if you can smell a strong odor of gas – these situations always require evacuation to a safe location.
3. Use a Qualified Plumber for Repairs
Many jurisdictions require special certifications to work on gas lines, and your city may also require an inspection following any repair or modification. Once you've ensured your safety, contact a plumber with the appropriate qualifications to help you locate and repair the leak. Hiring a plumber with the right skills is the only way to resolve the situation safely.
Likewise, avoid turning your gas back on (whether you've turned it off yourself or the utility company turned it off at the meter) until you've completed repairs and any necessary inspections. Gas line leaks can present many severe dangers, so it's crucial to take every safety precaution when dealing with them.
If you notice signs of a gas leak in your home, contact a professional like Mesquite Plumbing Inc as soon as possible.