After the horrible explosion in the San Bruno neighborhood, we are reminded that we should all be aware of how to turn off the gas running into our homes and also to be aware of a gas leak.
What is a gas smell? Gas is odorless, but a sweet, pungent smell has been added to it to alert people when there is a gas lead. If you are not sure of the smell, then you can turn the fire on your gas stove, and you will smell gas for a few seconds before the fire becomes ignited.
Sadly, the neighbors of the San Bruno gas explosion are saying that they smelled gas several days before the explosion. If someone had reported it there would have been a good chance the explosion never would have happened.
Many people don't realize that there is a major pipeline is running through the middle of the street, and from there another pipe will branch out and run gas to your gas meter. The gas meter will be located somewhere outside your home. It will be low to the ground. You should locate the gas meter now so that in case of an emergency you will know what to do and how to turn it off. Once you locate it, find the shutoff valve. You can turn the valve to off with a wrench or pliers. It is also a good idea to attach a shutoff valve key, that you can buy at a hardware store, to the gas meter so it will be there and you are not searching for one.
It's important to call the gas company or the fire department if you smell gas inside or outside of your home. They will come over immediatley and find out the cause. If you smell it after an earthquake, though, then you should turn the gas off at the meter and then call the gas company. If you do not smell gas after an earthquake, then you should not turn off your gas.
You should not have a gas smell in your home, but if you do, it is probably coming from the stove or the gas dryer. A small leak can come from the flexible hose behind your stove or behind your gas dryer. This can occur if you move your appliance for cleaning or maybe if you are painting or remodeling your kitchen.
You can move the oven or dryer forward and turn off the gas from the flexible hose, yourself, but if there is a leak in the hose it may keep leaking, so you will need to turn it off from the meter. Also, if the oven or dryer is heavy you may not be able to get to it. In any case, the gas company will come to your home right away to take care of the situation.
If you ever have any doubt, don't hesitate to call. Your local gas company will come to your home and check it for you and the fire department will eliminate any dangerous fumes, if a gas leak is found.