The American Gas Association places the total commercial and residential natural gas users at 74 million. Natural gas is safe and convenient when it is installed and used correctly. However, when gas leaks do occur, they pose serious risks of carbon monoxide poisoning in people and animals. Natural gas is also highly flammable, and should there be leaks, the risk of fire and explosion increases substantially.
You’ve heard about the dangers of a gas leak, but just how hazardous is it really? While here at Squeaks Family Safety and Home Protection, we are best known for our kitchen and bathroom plumbing repairs in and around the Broomfield, CO, area, our specialty is providing safety and comfort to our local neighbors. That’s why we’ve made this short guide to explain the dangers, effects, and symptoms of gas leaks in your home.
Natural Gas vs. Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a product of improper combustion, which can occur from water heaters, furnaces, and poorly maintained ovens and stoves. As a colorless and odorless gas, carbon monoxide is incredibly dangerous — inhaling too much can result in asphyxiation and death.
On the other hand, natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas made up primarily of methane. Although natural gas is also colorless, tasteless, and odorless, utility companies add sulfur-like odor to the gas so that you detect a leak quickly.
What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?
Excessive exposure to carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous, which is why we recommend regularly checking the batteries of your carbon monoxide (CO) detector and scheduling a CO testing. Just like any harmful substance, carbon monoxide has both short-term and long-term effects. Take a look at the infographic below to learn about the physical symptoms you can experience from CO poisoning.
However, that’s not at all. If a broken home appliance has been slowly contaminating the air in your home with low levels of carbon monoxide, you could develop long-term effects, such as personality changes and mood swings; malaise’ impaired judgment, memory and concentration; unexplained numbness or vision problems; or insomnia. Over time, carbon monoxide poisoning can prove fatal.
What are the Symptoms of a Gas Leak?
To avoid the scary consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning, you should always schedule regular maintenance for your furnace and gas-fueled appliances. However, if one of your appliances malfunctions and starts leaking gas, how will you be able to tell that you and your family are in danger? By looking out for these symptoms:
- • You smell gas or rotten eggs as soon as you enter your home
- • Your house plants are wilting unusually quickly
- • Your gas bill will increase out of nowhere
Can You Smell a Gas Leak?
Gas leaks are nearly impossible to detect without professional help. To help residents stay safe in case of an emergency, utility companies add a harmless gas called mercaptan to give natural gas a foul smell akin to rotten eggs or sulfur. Without this additive, homeowners would not be able to detect gas leaks.
How Do I Check for a Gas Leak?
Do you suspect you may have a gas leak, but aren’t completely convinced? Check your natural gas line to be sure. If you notice that your gas line is damaged in any way, shape, or form, it’s most likely leaking. Carbon monoxide, or any other gas, can only be contained in an airtight space. However, just because you don’t notice any visible damage on your gas line, doesn’t mean it’s functioning properly. In this case, you need to rely on your senses to guide you.
- • Do you see a blurry gas cloud forming around any part of the gas line?
- • Do you hear a low hissing sound?
- • Do you smell sulfur or rotten eggs?
These are all indications that you have a gas leak to worry about.
Take These Steps if You Suspect a Gas Leak
10 Natural Gas Safety Tips
Natural gas leaks can cause severe health issues and death if not contained properly. The following are ten safety tips to keep in mind:
- Know all the important signs of a natural gas leak. These signs can be smell, sound, and sight.
- Inspect all your devices and appliances that use natural gas regularly.
- Only use gas appliances for their intended purpose. Using a cooker to heat a room is not a good idea.
- Regularly maintain your gas system and appliances to ensure they are working optimally.
- Keep small children away from all open sources of natural gas on your property.
- Install natural gas and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
- Know how to shut off natural gas safely in your home.
- Get an annual gas safety check to ensure there are no undetected leaks.
- Use a Gas Safe registered utility company and engineers for installation and maintenance.
- Ensure adequate ventilation for gas appliances to burn properly.
If you’re experiencing a heating, cooling, gas leak, or plumbing problem, Squeaks Family Safety and Home Protection service is on standby to take care of everything you need. We are a local HVAC company serving Denver, CO, and all of its surrounding communities. Our gas leak plumbers in Denver, CO, and heating service and repair techs in Denver, CO, are reliable, on time, and pocket friendly. Contact us today for exceptional services.