Everything You Need to Know About Gas Leaks

Gas leaks are scary because they can be very dangerous, and you might not even realize you have one in your home. Mike Counsil Plumbing is an expert on gas leaks, and we want to keep your family safe. We want you to be informed about gas leaks, how they happen, how to detect them, and what to do if your home has one. Our team of professional, experienced technicians is available 24/7 for emergency situations, so don’t hesitate to contact us. Natural gas is prevalent in our modern homes. It’s become the preferred energy source because it’s more efficient than most other options. Natural gas can produce electricity as well as heating and cooling. Find out more about gas leaks and how to stay safe.

What is a Gas Leak?

A gas leak, by definition, is pretty simple. It occurs when a gas line or any gas-burning appliance springs a leak. The natural gas flowing through that line or appliance seeps out into the open air. Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous. Natural gas is primarily composed of methane, which is an asphyxiant that pushes the oxygen out of enclosed spaces. It’s also extremely flammable and is capable of forming explosive mixtures when exposed to the air. On average, incidents involving natural gas leaks cause $133 million in property damage and 17 fatalities each year. Those statistics show that gas leaks are nothing to be taken lightly.

How Do Gas Leaks Happen?

Gas pipes only last for so long. As they age, they can begin to bend, warp, or even break. Older pipes made from materials like cash iron are particularly at risk. Gas pipe exposure and use can corrode old gas lines and wear away the outer material. Eventually, hairline fractures may form. Other leaks are caused by home supply lines coming partially unseated from appliances. These leaks can be especially dangerous due to their proximity to flames. Appliances that don’t receive enough gas also produce carbon monoxide. Living in California, earthquake damage is also a particularly common reason for gas leaks. All homeowners in the Bay Area should have an emergency earthquake shutoff valve installed on their gas lines.

How Are Gas Leaks Detected?

While natural gas is odorless, gas companies like PG&E add another gas to give off that rotten egg smell that you’ve likely noticed in the past. This unpleasant smell is a warning sign of a gas leak. Without it, it would be virtually impossible to tell if your home had a gas leak. As soon as you identify this smell, contact our team as well as your gas company.

What Should I Do if My Home Has a Gas Leak?

The first step is to tell everyone in your home about the gas leak. Gather up your family and leave your home as soon as possible. Don’t forget to bring your pets! There are plenty of things NOT to do if your home has a gas leak. Do not start your car engine because it could generate a flame or spark. Do not use light switches, phones, or electrical devices. Turn off any appliances if they’re actively burning gas. Those include stoves and furnaces. Get to a safe place like a neighbor’s house or a park down the street and give your gas company a call. After that, contact us for fast and effective gas leak repairs. We’ll solve the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

How Can I Prevent Gas Leaks from Happening?

You should never attempt to fix a gas leak, but there are things you can do to be proactive and keep your family safe to prevent them from happening in the future. The best thing to do is a routine inspection of your gas lines. Check for signs of damage, corrosion, breakage, and warping. Listen for leaking or hissing noises, especially around appliances and in your basement. We can’t stress this enough, which is why we’ll repeat it: have an earthquake shutoff valve installed. You’ll want to get a carbon monoxide alarm if you don’t already have one. Either way, test it twice a year and change the batteries annually. Check your gas-burning appliances to make sure they aren’t warped or damaged. Check that the supply line connection is securely fastened with no gaps. This might sound like a lot of work, but we’d be happy to do it for you. Contact us immediately if you suspect a gas leak. If not, do your family a favor and schedule your in-home gas testing.