Gas Safety Tips
If you own a home with natural gas appliances, then you have some responsibility to know how to react when you smell gas. Not all hints of natural gas in the air require that you send for the utility professionals, but you have to know the difference. These steps not only apply to your residential home, but are also important when you might be away from home. Leaving a natural gas leak unreported can be risky. People might get dizzy or nauseated in the area. In worst cases, the gas can build up in pockets and spaces and then be ignited by a random spark. This could lead to a gas explosion. However, most gas leaks are pretty easy to deal with, if you just take a few precautions and learn what to do. If you don’t know, call in someone who does and make sure the professionals are doing their job to keep everyone safe.
It’s not time to panic
People who have been brought up in homes with gas appliances understand that a gas leak is not a major issue. It does need to be attended to, but it’s not cause for a major panic. Just because you get the whiff of rotten eggs does not mean you have a gas leak in the home. There are numerous reasons you can get a sour odour in the house. Here are a few things you need to do to make sure you’ve done what you can to investigate the source of the smell before you call the gas company to report a gas leak.
1. Assess the gas smell – If the smell is very strong, do not attempt to go in and figure out where the source of the leak is. It’s become a dangerous situation if the smell already indicates a large build-up of gas and you need to get away from that area as soon as possible. In such a case, it’s better to let the professionals handle it. However, if you are only getting a slight whiff here and there, then make an attempt to figure out what might be the cause.
2. Use a flashlight – Don’t ignite anything near the source of the smell, like matches or a candle. That would be dangerous and could ignite any build-up of gas in the area. A flashlight is the perfect tool for investigating gas leaks, especially on a stove or boiler pilot light that might have gone out after dark.
3. Shut off the gas and relight the pilots - If you see that the pilot light is indeed off, and then you will need to relight the pilot light using the manufacturer’s instructions. This will mean you will have to shut the gas line off using the shutoff valve to disperse excess gas for at least five minutes. Then, turn it back on so you can relight the pilot light.
4. Ventilate – For slight smells, there are many reasons you can get a whiff of gas every now and then. Regardless, the likelihood of gas poisoning or explosions drops dramatically if you keep the area in which you smell gas properly ventilated. This disperses the gas in a room to avoid a dangerous build up. Anywhere you have an enclosed area where you smell gas; it’s a good idea to keep it well ventilated.
5. If it doesn’t work – If you continue to get the smell of gas in your home, you may have a leak in the pipeline or a faulty valve somewhere. You can listen closely to the pipes to see if you hear a hissing noise. However, at this point, the professionals will need to be called in to determine the actual cause and repair the appliance in a manner that will permanently resolve the leak.
Even when you are not at home, it’s a good idea to stay vigilant for gas leaks in your area. Your nose will be the first indicator that something is not right. But, also notice any streets or paved areas with cracks that have bubbling water in them after a rain. This can be a really good indicator of where a pipe has a leak and should be called in to the local utility company. Then, make sure to get as far away as possible from that area, warning others to stay away as well. This will give your utility company a good place to work uninterrupted and keep everyone safe.