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Essential tips for gas leak detection

Gas leak at home boiler room

Natural gas connections are essential elements in thousands of homes and businesses across New Zealand. They enable us to cook food, heat water and keep our spaces warm. It’s proven to be a staple in our everyday lives, with 4.7 billion cubic meters consumed every year.

However, our reliance on natural gas is not without risk. If your gas line is compromised, it could be a risk to your health, your home and your business. That makes it vital to remain vigilant and look out for signs of gas leaks.  

The dangers of a gas leak  

If left undetected, a gas leak can severely impact your repository system, eyes, and throat. It can also cause dizziness. loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases carbon monoxide poisoning. This occurs when gas levels increase so much that oxygen rates fall, leaving you to breathe carbon monoxide over an extended period. Symptoms include: 

  • Difficulty breathing or chest pains
  • Light-headedness 
  • Headaches 
  • Irritation in your nose or eyes 
  • Nausea or reduced appetite 
  • Ringing in ears 
  • Nosebleeds.

Along with these health concerns, gas leaks can also flood your home or business with flammable vapours, risking fire and even explosions. 

To avoid these risks, be sure to stay aware and look for the signs. 

How to find a gas leak

Here are our top 5 tips for gas leak detection, so you can keep your family, customers, and workers safer in their spaces. 

1. Use your senses  

Trust your ears, eyes and nose to help you with your gas leak detection.

A common sign of a leak is a whistling or hissing noise, which indicates that gas is flooding out of a small opening. If you think you hear something, stop and focus to make sure. Then, check your gas line and your gas appliances to see if this could be the problem area. Noises aren’t always guaranteed, so be sure to use your other senses to confirm your suspicions. 

Another method of gas leak detection is to check your lines for any damage or corrosion, as leaks can develop at these points. While you check, keep an eye out for white mist or clouds near the pipes. This can indicate a rupture or leak, so evacuate the area immediately and call in the experts to help. 

If you ever come across the smell of rotten eggs or cabbage, this may also be a sign of a gas leak. Because natural gas has no scent, suppliers will add an odorant called Ethyl Mercaptan to make leaks easier to detect. If you smell this, turn off your gas and call someone to address the issue. 

2. Watch for rising gas bills 

If you notice that your gas bill is higher than usual, compare your gas consumption to a bill in the same period from the year before. If it is unnaturally high, this could indicate a gas leak even if you haven’t heard, seen or smelt anything. Leaks can sometimes be so slow and steady that they would go undetected otherwise. 

Be sure to look at units like cubic meters rather than the value as prices are set to fluctuate. Price can simply be a catalyst for you to look at other units. 

3. Test your system with soapy water

This is a tried and tested method for gas leak detection. Combine detergent and water until it is at a soapy consistency, and bring it to areas where you suspect a leak. This could be a connection, juncture or appliance. If bubbles begin to form, this indicates that gas is escaping. 

4. Look out for plants dying suddenly 

If you keep house plants in your home or business, they can help let you know if you have a gas leak. Plants are highly sensitive to changes in the atmosphere, so if you find yours are dying seemingly out of nowhere, it is worth getting things checked out. Likewise for plants outside. If they are on top of a buried gas line that is leaking, it can start to kill them. 

5. Use a gas detector 

Aside from calling in professionals, using a gas leak detector is the most surefire way to determine if you have a leak. these are available to buy online and are highly sensitive to gas. You can get handheld models or those similar to a smoke detector. If they locate anything, they will sound an alarm and let you know if a leak is present. 

What to do if you find a gas leak   

As soon as you suspect a leak, follow these steps: 

  1. Turn off your gas supply straight away. Make sure you know where it is in advance. 
  2. Open windows and ventilate the rooms if it’s safe so the gas can disperse. 
  3. Evacuate if you smell Ethyl Mercaptan and don’t use any electronic devices. 
  4. Contact your provider and report the leak. 
  5. Don’t re-enter until the area is declared safe. 

How Allen Plumbing can help

We are certified gas fitters ready to ensure your appliances are connected and free of leaks. We can conduct repairs and maintenance to ensure the gas infrastructure at your home or business is safe and up to code. If you suspect a leak, give us a call and we’ll be out to help.