Photo By Moyo Studio at istock
If your furnace or other gas-burning appliance, such as a kitchen range, clothes dryer or water heater is leaking gas, you’re facing a major plumbing emergency that poses a serious threat to your family’s safety and well-being, and your home as well.
Understanding and staying alert to the warning signs that gas is leaking inside or outside your home, and knowing how to react if a leak occurs, is the smart way to be prepared for this potentially dangerous plumbing emergency so you can keep your family safe from harm.
Other plumbing emergencies that deserve professional attention from the trusted team at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain can take many forms — you may have an overflowing bathroom fixture, a clogged sewer line or a leaking water pipe that creates a mess and causes considerable stress and costly damage.
Plumbing Emergency Warnings Signs: How to Detect a Gas Leak
Odd, Unpleasant Odors
Natural gas is odorless, so it’s almost impossible to tell if it’s present in the air. To make it easier to detect, the gas supplied to homes across the country has a harmless chemical called mercaptan added, which gives it a distinctive sulfur or rotten-egg smell. You’re likely to notice such an unpleasant odor in your kitchen or laundry room fairly quickly.
If there’s a leak in the gas lines or valve serving a furnace or water heater that’s located in a seldom-accessed utility room, basement or garage, it may take a while before a funky smell catches your attention. As a proactive measure against having a gas leak cause a plumbing emergency that puts your family and home in jeopardy, it’s wise to make periodic checks. Look out for any odd odors around your furnace and any other gas-fired household equipment located out of the central parts of your house to be extra cautious.
Hissing or Whistling Sounds
Hearing a hissing or whistling sound near your water heater, dryer, furnace or kitchen range is a warning that there’s a significant amount of gas escaping from a loose, poorly installed or damaged line/connection. This is potentially deadly and serious plumbing emergency needs immediate investigation.
A minor leak may not produce a noticeable telltale odor or distinctive hissing noise around gas-burning appliances and equipment, but even low levels of gas escaping through a small leak in the lines or around a connection can cause physical symptoms such as:
- Breathing difficulties
- Throat or eye irritation
Natural gas is what’s known as a “simple asphyxiant,” so when it builds up in an enclosed space such as your home’s interior, it displaces vital oxygen in the air supply. If you or anyone else in the household experiences the above flu-like symptoms, and they tend to worsen when at home, it may actually be their body’s reaction to lower levels of oxygen caused by an unidentified gas leak.
Gas exposure can cause similar issues for family pets who can’t vocalize their discomfort. If your pet becomes lethargic, starts having balance problems, has difficulty breathing or shows any sudden and unusual signs of illness, an undetected gas leak somewhere in your home may be the culprit.
Dying or Discolored Vegetation
Just as exposure to gas causes health issues for people and pets, it can also harm or kill vegetation in your property. If a dead patch starts to develop in one area of your otherwise lush lawn, or trees, shrubs, perennials or other plantings start to wither and die or take on an odd color, it may be a warning sign that the utility line running underneath the ground has ruptured and gas is seeping out and into the soil.
Unexplained Outdoor Air Movement
If you notice air movement in the landscaping around the perimeter of your home when there’s no wind, such as leaves or mulch being swirled around, or plants waving like they’re being blown by a light breeze, it can point to a leak in the gas pipe running from your home to the main line.
Exercise Caution with a Suspected Gas-Related Plumbing Emergency
Natural gas becomes highly combustible and can easily ignite if it’s within a certain concentration range in the air of an enclosed space — when the conditions are right, all that’s needed is a spark to start a fire or cause an explosion. If you recognize any of the above signs and suspect that gas is leaking inside your home, you need to exercise caution to minimize the danger of a fire or explosion, so it’s critical that you and your family members do not:
- Attempt to find where the leak originates
- Try fixing the leak on your own
- Call to report the problem from a phone inside the house
- Use any battery-operated devices or electronics
- Turn household appliances or light switches on or off
- Close interior or exterior doors to contain the spread of gas
- Light matches or candles, or use a cigarette lighter or any other source of ignition
Crucial Next Steps to Take During a Gas Leak Plumbing Emergency
If you detect a rotten-egg smell anywhere in your home, hear what sounds like the hiss of escaping gas near your furnace or appliances or see visual signs of an exterior leak, be sure to take these steps without delay:
- Quickly open as many windows and exterior doors as possible
- Get everyone who’s at home out of the house right away
- Use your cell phone or go to a neighbor’s and call your gas company and 911 to alert the local fire department
- then contact us at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain to let us know you have a plumbing emergency
Expert 24/7 Assistance with Your Plumbing Emergency
Our skilled technicians at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain are available 24/7, 365 days a year to locate and expertly repair gas leaks that threaten the safety of your family and home. Contact us today if you need emergency service, or to schedule an appointment to install natural gas detectors and shut-off valves that provide greater peace of mind about future leaks.