Whether it happens inside or outside your home, a natural gas leak can be an extremely dangerous occurrence. Knowing the signs of a gas leak can literally be lifesaving. If you’re wondering what does a gas leak smell like or what to do if you smell gas, take this opportunity to find out.
Why Do Gas Explosions Occur?
The gas used in homes is methane, but it’s commonly called “natural gas” or just “gas.” Natural gas is a safe and effective way to provide heat and power appliances in your home, but the systems used to convert gas into power can occasionally break down, causing the gas to leak.
A gas leak can be extremely dangerous because it can be ignited by any kind of flame, spark, or fire. Even a spark from turning on a wall switch can ignite natural gas and cause an explosion. The more gas that has accumulated inside the home, the larger the chance of an explosion.
It’s important to know that while gas explosions can and do occur, natural gas is actually very safe to use. Millions of homes and other buildings all over the country use natural gas every day, and explosions are very rare occurrences. But because there is a risk involved, it’s also important to know what to do if you smell gas in your home.
What Does a Gas Leak Smell Like?
Natural gas has no odor; it doesn’t smell like anything at all. This means it would be impossible to detect a gas leak if natural gas were used in the home in its unaltered state. To solve this problem, the gas is mixed with a natural, sulfur-based odorant called tert-butylthiol, or t-butyl mercaptan. This gives it a very distinctive rotten-egg smell, which means there’s no mistaking the smell of gas. If you get even a hint of a rotten-egg smell and don’t know why, you should suspect you have a leak and don’t delay in getting it repaired. If the smell is very strong, immediately leave the area. Remember not to turn on any lights, as the spark from them could ignite gas trapped inside your home.
What Are Other Signs of a Gas Leak?
The distinctive rotten-egg smell isn’t the only sign of a gas leak. Keep an eye—or ear—out for these things inside and outside your home:
Sound: If you hear a hissing or a high-pitched whistling sound, this might indicate a gas leak. These sounds will be most noticeable near a gas line or an appliance that uses gas.
Dead plants: If you have indoor plants, they may die or be unhealthy if they’re located close to the source of the leak.
Grass die-off: Not all gas leaks happen inside the home; sometimes they happen outside. You’re less likely to smell gas outside your house, but the leaking gas may affect your lawn. A gas leak may cause your lawn to start dying off near the source and cause the grass or soil to appear blackish-green in color. Plants that are near the leak may also be affected.
Higher gas bill: A small gas leak may not have any obvious signs, but you’re likely to notice it on your gas bill. Since gas is escaping from somewhere in the system, you’ll be paying more for gas than you’re used to at that time of year.
A Gas Leak May Cause Physical Symptoms
Breathing in natural gas causes physical symptoms in both people and pets because inhaling gas means your body is getting less oxygen. Some symptoms include:
What to Do If You Smell Gas: 4 Steps
Step 1: Leave.
If you can smell gas inside your home, exit immediately, and make sure everyone else in your home does too. Don’t stop to open windows or turn off the gas—just head outside as quickly as possible.
Step 2: Call for help.
Once everyone is safe outside, it’s time to make the call for help. If you or a family member doesn’t have a phone with you, ask a neighbor if you can use theirs.
Who do you call if you smell gas?
Your plumber: Tradesmen, Journeymen, and Master Plumbers in Texas can shut the gas down to your house and are certified to repair gas leaks in homes. Make sure that if a Tradesman or Journeyman comes to repair the line, they are working for a Master Plumber so proper processes are followed to restore the gas to your home after the repair is complete.
Give C&W Plumbing a call anytime at 972-395-2597. We’ll send someone out to quickly to shut off the gas and get to work investigating the source of the leak.
Your gas provider: In North Texas, it’s Atmos Energy®. They have an emergency number for gas leaks: 866-322-8667. The emergency line will give you advice about the next steps you need to take.
Your local emergency service: You may also decide to call the fire department by dialing 911.
Note: Do not, under any circumstances, go back inside to get your phone—not even if you know where it is and it will only take a few seconds to grab. The smallest spark can ignite natural gas if enough has accumulated inside the home. It’s NOT worth the risk!
Step 3: Have your gas system repaired.
After Atmos or a qualified plumber has turned the gas off and the house is safe to enter, a plumber can come in to find the source of the issue. If you use C&W Plumbing, once our technician locates the problem, we can pull the appropriate city permits for the work, then repair any and all gas leaks inside your home or outside on your property. After we’ve done the repair work, we’ll test the system to make sure all potential leaks have been uncovered and the repairs are sound.
Step 4: Have your home inspected, so your gas can be tuned back on.
The next step is that your city will check to make sure your gas system is functioning properly and shows no signs of leaks. Once they have the all-clear, your gas meter will be unlocked, and Atmos will turn your gas back on.
This process can take a day or two, but the inspection is important, both to get your gas turned back on and to make sure it’s safe to use the gas in your home again. If temperatures are below freezing, your city may expedite the process.
Call C&W Plumbing for Expert Help with a Gas Leak
If you’ve had a gas leak in your home, you’ll want to get it repaired ASAP, but without compromising on repair quality. For gas leak repairs that are done quickly and professionally, call C&W Plumbing.