In 1937, a gas leak at the New London School in New London, Texas, triggered a massive explosion. The disaster killed 295 people, most of them children. This horrendous incident led directly to the practice of including chemical additives that give naturally odorless gas it’s distinctive, rotten egg smell. Despite this, 17 people still die every year in the United States from either natural gas exposure or explosions, while many more become ill from exposure. When asking yourself, “how dangerous is a gas leak?”, you should know that “very” is almost always the answer.
The hazardous nature of a gas leak means that you should always seek immediate professional repair in the event of one’s appearance. If the leak seems especially large or dangerous, call the gas company immediately to have your service interrupted. You can then call a certified plumbing professional for repair. If you ever need repair for a gas leak in Huntsville, AL, make sure to call the team at Hot n Cold Plumbing LLC. You can reach us anytime at (256)-885-4333, and one of our technicians will dispatch rapidly to your aid.
Gas Leak Issues and Sources
Gas leaks present a variety of issues. First and foremost, they can threaten your health. They can also threaten the health of your pets, and will even kill nearby houseplants. Gas leaks have the potential to create explosions, and even contribute to global warming. The hazards of gas leaks are so extreme, that natural gas providers the world over provide for the distinctive, rotten-egg smell through the addition of thiols, sulfur-based chemicals. This helps alert individuals to the presence of gas, and gives them the opportunity to call for safety.
Thankfully, natural gas remains completely safe when contained and burned effectively. More than 65 million United States homes employ natural gas to fuel appliances. Natural gas also burns cleanly, with condensation and carbon dioxide as its only byproducts. In terms of environmental friendliness, this makes it much preferred over fuels like coal, oil, or even wood. Small amounts can also produce a great deal of heat. While this makes natural gas explosions especially dangerous, it makes its use as a fuel highly efficient.
As for gas leak sources, they often come from old copper piping that has corroded from age. Newer types of pipes, made from aluminum and plastic, are resistant to corrosion and less prone to leaks. Gas leaks also tend to occur in the same locations. Gas valves, which control the flow of gas, are the most common site of leaks. Gas unions, the point of connection between a gas line and a gas appliance, provide the second-most common site.
Gas Leak In House Symptoms
The faster you notice the symptoms of a gas leak, the sooner you can call for help and have this dangerous problem resolved. If you have natural gas appliances, you must absolutely familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of a gas leak. While some are obvious, others are more subtle. Regardless, the more of them you can recognize, the more likely you can detect a gas leak before it sickens you, or worse.
Symptoms of a gas leak include:
- Bad Smells
- Odd Sounds
- Visual Cues
Bad Smells: A distinctive smell of sulfur provides the clearest sign you have a gas leak. Few things produce this smell naturally, so unless you have a basket of rotten eggs sitting on your kitchen counter, the scent of sulfur indicates a gas leak.
Sounds: If you ever notice a hissing sound near a gas appliance or line, you likely have a leak. In fact, gas leaks will always make some kind of sound, even if it remains faint. The appliance most commonly associated with noisy gas leaks is the stove.
Visual Indicators: There exist a few different visual cues that you may have a gas leak. If the pipe passes through water, the leak will cause the dispersion of bubbles. If you ever notice dirt or dust blown about in an area with no wind or moving air, this could also indicate a leak. Finally, if you ever see a distinctly wavy pattern in the air of a room, you have an especially large leak, and should leave your home immediately.
Gas Leak and Health
Aside from its potential to explode, the biggest threat of a gas leak comes from its effect on your physical health. When inhaled, natural gas acts as a toxin. It will cause a variety of symptoms that worsen as the time of exposure grows.
- Blurry Vision
- Upset Stomach
Overall, natural gas exposure creates symptoms reminiscent of the flu. Unlike the flu, however, the symptoms will come on suddenly, and will affect everyone in a household.
Gas Leak FAQ
What to Do if You Think You Have a Gas Leak?
If the symptoms or indicators are particularly strong, leave your house immediately. Do not flip any light switches or turn off any appliances. Find a safe place, and call 911. If the symptoms seem relatively minor, open windows to air out your home, turn off any pilot lights, then leave and call 911.
What Does a Gas Leak Smell Like?
Though naturally odorless, the addition of the chemical mercaptan lends natural gas a distinctive, rotten-egg or garlic-type aroma.
Can Fumes Make Your Sick?
Yes, exposure to gas fumes can cause nausea, dizziness, fatigue, upset stomach, headaches, and blurred vision. Generally speaking the symptoms of a gas leak are similar to symptoms of the flu.
Do Plumbers Fix Gas Lines?
Yes, a trained plumbing professional must repair your leaking gas line, then pressure test the line to determine its stability.
Local Gas Leak Fix
For the repair of a gas leak in Huntsville, AL, trust the expert team at Hot n Cold Plumbing LLC. You can reach us anytime, even overnight, for an emergency like leaking gas. To do so, simply call (256)-885-4333. One of our friendly representatives can answer any questions and dispatch a technician directly to your home.