Natural gas burns relatively clean, but is extremely dangerous if something goes wrong with furnaces, gas pipes, fireplaces, stoves, or water heaters that use it. About 177 million people in the U.S. use natural gas, according to the American Gas Association. Even though gas leaks are uncommon, this number means at least a few households will experience a problem at any given time. When danger strikes, recognizing these symptoms of a gas leak can mean the difference between life and death.
1. Your House Stinks
By itself, natural gas has no odor. Gas companies add a chemical that smells similar to sulfur, called mercaptan. A rotten egg smell in your home therefore likely points to a gas leak. Without the additive, you’d never know gas is leaking, unless you experience or notice the following:
2. You Don’t Feel Well
In high levels, exposure can lead to natural gas poisoning. A gas leak also reduces the amount of oxygen in the air, which can lead to symptoms such as:
- Eye and throat irritation
- Breathing difficulty
- Loss of concentration
- Memory problems
- Loss of consciousness
If you touch compressed or liquid gas, your skin may blister or become pale. High levels of gas exposure can lead to unconsciousness or death. And pets too are susceptible to gas exposure, and will show many of the symptoms listed above if there’s a gas leak.
However, if you experience similar symptoms and/or chest or stomach pains, vision problems, or loss of muscle control, it may be carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Faulty natural gas appliances can leak CO, so installing carbon monoxide detectors can protect your household.
3. Gas Pipes/Appliances Are Hissing
If there’s a large gas leak, you may hear hissing sounds from a pipe or gas appliance. The noise will remain even if you turn the appliance off. Hissing sounds can also come from air conditioners, in which case they can signal leaking refrigerant, a bad compressor, or damaged valve. Call a technician whenever you hear any appliance or pipe hissing.
4. You Notice Bubbling Water
Water bubbling in a puddle or pond can mean an underground natural gas pipe is leaking. Bubbles in any wet area can signal trouble. You can test for a gas leak by mixing water with dish soap, wiping the suspected area with a cloth or sponge, and observing. If you see bubbles, call for emergency assistance.
5. Strange Clouds, Mist, or Fog
A ruptured gas line quickly releases gas, forming a white cloud, mist, or fog around your property. If a gas leak occurs, open windows and doors if you can. Leave the area at once and:
- Don’t try to turn off the gas yourself.
- Don’t look for the source of the leak.
- Don’t use lighters, matches, or gas/electrical appliances.
- Don’t start your car.
- Don’t turn on the gas if it was shut off.
6. Dead/Dying Plants
Dead plants, stunted vegetation, or wilted flowers and shrubs may point to an underground natural gas leak in that location. Plants show symptoms of a gas leak because natural gas prevents roots from absorbing oxygen. More subtle signs can include yellowish grass and trees with smaller-than-normal leaves.
7. Gas Usage Has Increased
If the amount of gas used, as reflected on your monthly bill or gas meter, increases, or the pattern doesn’t reflect seasonal fluctuations, a leak may be present. It’s important to inspect natural gas appliances and equipment regularly. Yearly inspections can help prevent or fix problems that can lead to dangerous leaks.
Contact Home X
If you suspect problems with your gas plumbing or gas-using appliances, or experience the symptoms of a gas leak discussed above, our licensed technicians can find the source of the problem and fix it fast. Home X provides gas line repair and installation in Anaheim and surrounding areas. To request same-day or emergency service, call 714-924-3706 now.