When we think of natural gas, our minds usually think of how most of us heat our homes. In reality, natural gas is used in a variety of ways in the common household. Cooking, drying clothes, and heating water are just a few other ways natural gas is used in homes.
While natural gas is generally a safe source of fuel, it can still be dangerous if used incorrectly. Here are a few standard safety tips for using natural gas in your home, from detecting a leak to maintaining your natural gas appliances.
Detecting a Leak
There are many negative effects of a natural gas leak, so if your appliances or pipes are powered by natural gas, it’s important to know how to detect a leak. Here are some common signs of a natural gas leak.
Whistling or Hissing Noises
Hissing or whistling sounds may occur when there is a large gas leak in your pipes or appliances, even if your appliance is turned off and not being used.
Smell of Rotten Eggs
To make leaks easily detectable, a rotten egg odor is intentionally added to natural gas. In its natural state, you cannot smell natural gas, but if there is a leak, you will be able to smell a rotten egg odor. The stronger the smell, the more likely it is you have a leak.
Pro tip: In the event that this happens, you should step outside of your house and call your utility provider. If you think you’ve been exposed to natural gas, you should contact 911 immediately.
Higher-than-Normal Gas Bill
If your gas bill is higher than it normally is with no explanation, this could be a sign of a gas leak. Your gas bill will typically increase during the change in seasons, especially when using a gas furnace, but if this isn’t the case, there could be a leak in your home.
If you’ve been physically exposed to natural gas, you could be experiencing symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. In more severe cases, natural gas poisoning can cause memory loss, loss of consciousness, and suffocation. If you’re experiencing these symptoms and you believe it’s due to a natural gas leak in your home, contact a healthcare professional right away.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
While carbon monoxide detectors do not detect natural gas leaks, they do alert you if appliances are improperly burning natural gas. To be extra safe, you should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Know the Location of Your Gas Shutoff Valve and How to Use It
In the event of an emergency, you should know where your gas shutoff valve is located and how to turn it off. All homes that use natural gas have a shutoff valve, and in many cases, it is located outside. If there is natural gas exposure in your home, it’s important you know how to turn off the valve immediately to prevent further exposure.
Maintain Your Natural Gas Appliances
Having your appliances that are powered by natural gas inspected regularly can prevent future leaks and help keep them maintained to run properly. If you ever suspect there is an issue with your appliance, contact the manufacturer or call your natural gas provider.
Keep Children Away from Hot Surfaces
Small children should always be kept away from hot surfaces such as stoves, heaters, gas fireplaces, and any other source of natural gas.
Pro tip: Teach your children how to detect a natural gas leak by identifying the rotten egg smell and recognizing the main symptoms of natural gas exposure.
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, contact your gas provider right away to shut off your system. Once the gas is off, our San Mateo gas specialists at Bell Plumbing will be on our way to examine your system and provide all necessary repairs to ensure a safe gas line for your home.