Natural gas is a clean, highly-efficient fuel for powering numerous appliances, but it can also pose a severe danger to both your property and your life. Because of the hazards, it is critical to treat natural gas with the respect that it deserves. While gas-fired appliances are generally safe, leaks in your plumbing can develop due to physical damage or even improper installation.
Fortunately, utility companies add a particular chemical called ethyl mercaptan to natural gas so that you can easily detect it by smell. This chemical smells like rotten eggs to most people. These three tips will help you understand what you should do if you notice this odor in your home.
1. Consider Where You Notice the Smell
Natural gas is a very light chemical that disperses as it enters the air. As a result, it can be hard to notice tiny leaks unless you're standing relatively close to the source. If you detect a faint gas odor in a utility room, you may only have a small leak. In these cases, you should open a window, turn off any gas valves, and contact your utility company after leaving the room.
However, you should never remain in your home if you can smell gas away from gas appliances or plumbing. Since natural gas disperses relatively quickly, a strong odor throughout your home often indicates a severe leak. In these cases, leave the house immediately and move to a safe distance before contacting your utility company or the fire department.
2. Contact a Qualified Professional
Plumbers typically need special licensing to work with natural gas lines. Once you've taken care of your immediate safety, contact a plumber and ensure they have the correct qualifications to work on your gas plumbing. Working with a professional will ensure that the job gets done correctly and help you pass any local inspections required after performing gas work.
Keep in mind that you should always contact your utility company, as well. Your responsibility typically ends at the meter or regulator, so the gas company may want to perform an inspection on their portion of the line to ensure that the leak isn't outdoors.
3. Perform a Pressure Test
Pressure tests are the most common way to test residential gas lines. Home gas lines use very little pressure, so it's relatively easy to pump the system up well beyond its normal operating pressure. Once pressurized, plumbers will usually check in on the system at least one day later to ensure that the pressure level hasn't fallen.
While some cities may require a pressure test as part of an inspection, it's always a good idea to perform one following any gas service. This test will give you peace of mind that your system is operating as it should and that no further gas leaks exist.
For more information on gas line leak repair, contact a specialist such as Mesquite Plumbing Inc.