For half the country, natural gas is the way we heat our homes, cook food, heat water, and dry our clothing. While usually safe, there are circumstances where natural gas can become dangerous. Improperly installed or poorly maintained gas lines can lead to gas leaks, which can create major problems for your health and your home.
Being able to detect a gas leak, and knowing how to repair a simple leak can go a long way toward keeping things in your home running safely.
Natural Gas Leaks
Natural gas is made up of methane, non-hydrocarbon gases, and other natural gas liquids. It’s a fossil energy that is found under the earth’s surface. A leak occurs when a gas line or appliance springs a leak. The natural gas in the pipeline starts to seep out into the areas around where the leak is. These are more likely to happen in old, deteriorated pipes where small fractures can occur.
Natural gas is non-toxic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause problems. High concentrations of natural gas can cause dizziness or issues with breathing, it can kill vegetation, trees, and houseplants, cause flammable mixtures to explode when exposed to open air, and cause costly property damage. On top of all that, leaks can also make your gas bill go up.
1. Rotten Egg Smell
If you smell sulphur or rotten eggs in your home, there’s a chance you have a gas leak. That’s because most natural gas companies put an additive called mercaptan into natural gas, in order to make it smell that way. This way, it’s easily detected.
2. Whistling or Hissing Noises
If you hear either of these sounds near your gas line, it could be a sign that you have a substantial leak happening. Make sure you’re near a gas line, as it could be other appliances you’re hearing.
3. Check the Stove Top
When you first turn on a burner on your stove, the flame should be blue. If it’s giving off an orange or red flame, that could be a sign that there’s gas in the air, taking away oxygen.
4. Gas Leak Detector
Using a gas leak detector is the easiest and most efficient way to figure out if you have a gas leak.
5. The Soapy Water Test
Soapy water can help you detect a gas leak. Mix a teaspoon of soap in water, and spray or put the solution on the area that you suspect is leaking. If bubbles start to show up, it’s an indication that you have a leak.
Routine maintenance is the best way to prevent a gas leak from happening in the first place. This includes equipment and appliances that use natural gas, like stoves, dryers, hot water heaters, and fireplaces. You can also check gas lines for signs of corrosion and fractures.
If you really want to have your home checked out, a professional plumber can come out and check all of your gas lines, and recommend any repairs or replacements.
The 3 Best Gas Leak Detectors and Sensors
1. Propane and Natural Gas Detectors
These detectors offer portable, extension, or plug-in options. Some options are better for different reasons. For instance, a portable device is better for searching for a gas leak, while a device that stays in your kitchen can detect gas leaks 24 hours a day.
2. Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Appliances that use gas can give off carbon monoxide when the gas they’re using experiences incomplete combustion, which can be harmful or even cause death. A carbon monoxide detector can pick up on carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, and alert you to its presence.
3. Carbon Monoxide and Explosive Gas Detector
This alarm is a hybrid, meaning it can detect both carbon monoxide and explosive gases, such as methane, propane, and other natural gases.
How to Fix Leaks
Working with gas can be quite dangerous, and only done in full confidence.
- Turn off the gas. This is your first step, and most important when working with gas. Once the gas is off, remove the outer covers of the gas line to expose the line. Make sure to wear a mask to avoid inhaling any fumes, and wear gloves to protect your hands.
- Detach the Gas Line. High pressure in the line can often be responsible for leaks. Detaching the line is required in order to complete any repairs.
- Remove any gas residue, and clean the gas line. You may have to crack the fittings on the high pressure line, which will require a wrench. Use acetone to clean the high-pressure line, removing any debris or impurities which could lead to another gas leak.
- Attach the gas line, making sure it fits loosely, as to avoid creating any more leaks. Use rubber tape to hold the pipe in place, and ensure the leak is sealed. Make sure the angles are correct.
- Apply epoxy, following the directions on the label. Leave it to dry overnight. Once this is done, tighten the high pressure line’s fittings. Then you can install the low-pressure gas line.
- Test the gas line, to make sure the repair worked. Using the detection method of your choice, turn the gas back on, and check to make sure it’s no longer leaking. If everything is good to go, put the covers back on the gas lines.
- If you’re stumped, or the leak turns out to be bigger than you expected, call a licensed plumber, who can help to take care of the issue for you.
Gas leak help in the New Orleans and Metairie areas
If you’re detecting gas in your home, and can’t seem to find the leak, it’s a good idea to bring in the professionals. Call Bienvenu Brothers today at (504) 835-7783, and our friendly team will help you make the best decision for your comfort and budget.