A gas line leak in your home can be dangerous. Breathing in natural gas can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes people don’t realize what’s making them sick, as small leaks often go unnoticed. Major leaks, on the other hand, are much more noticeable, as natural gas used in households has an additive that smells like sulfur. If you detect the unpleasant odor of natural gas in your home, get out, and immediately call for help.
In this article, you will learn about gas lines, how to recognize a gas line leak and what to do if you find one, and how you can prevent gas line leaks in your home.
How to Identify a Gas Line
A gas line is a conduit for delivering fuel (typically natural gas or propane) to your home. This fuel is used to run certain household appliances, like the water heater, clothes dryers, oven/stove ranges, heaters, grills, and pool heaters. Gas lines are usually made of black iron pipe or copper pipe coming through the wall or floor, and flexible steel tubing connecting from the supply pipe to the appliance.
How to Identify Gas Leaks
Household gas line leaks are common. The gas line most commonly leaks at the threaded fitting. Leaks are usually the result of pipe corrosion, low-quality lines, and fittings, poor hookup assembly, defective pipe threads, or old valves.
Here are five ways to detect a gas line leak yourself:
Natural gas is actually odorless, but when processed for residential use, mercaptan is added to provide a strong smell, usually compared to sulfur or rotten eggs. (Propane also has a similar acrid odor.) Sometimes you can faintly smell natural gas when using your appliances, but if the odor becomes pervasive, leave the house and call for professional diagnosis and repair.
The Bubble Test
If you suspect a gas line is leaking, mix liquid dish soap with water, and use a sponge or cloth to wipe the solution onto the line where it may be leaking. If you see soapy suds start to appear, you have a small leak.
Unreliable Pilot Light
If the pilot light on your appliance frequently snuffs out, there may be a leak in the gas line, causing a disruption to the fuel service.
If there is an area in your yard where the grass and plants are dying with no other explanation, there may be an underground gas leak.
There are a few different types of electronic gas leak testers available online and at home improvement stores.
Depending on the cause of the gas line leak, repair might involve adjusting and resealing the threads on the fittings, or replacing the faulty line completely. Because gas and other fuels are combustible, it is recommended that you call a professional plumber if you encounter a leak.
Preventing Gas Leaks in Your Home
Although gas line leaks sound scary, there are simple ways to prevent them:
Have gas appliances installed by a professional.
Do not frequently move or jostle gas appliances.
Make sure fittings are tight and sealed with sealant paste.
Have an annual pipe inspection by a certified plumber.
Again, because the gases used in homes can be very dangerous, it’s important to get help from professionals, who have the skills and knowledge to maintain and repair your gas lines safely and efficiently.