Gas leaks: how to prevent and detect a leak
With 31 deaths and over 1,000 injuries labelled as gas-related incidents in the past three years alone, gas leaks are something every household should take seriously
Here we discuss what can cause a leak, how to detect a gas leak and what to do if you think there is a leak in your home.
What causes a gas leak?
Gas leaks in the home are usually the result of poorly fitted, badly maintained or faulty appliances like boilers and cookers.
If your appliance is badly fitted, gas can escape — typically from the gas hose that leads into your appliance or from around the seal — so you should always make sure your appliances are installed by an accredited gas fitter.
If your appliances are a bit older and you are having them serviced, Call Baker Plumbing & Heating.
You should also be cautious of old or second-hand appliances, particularly if you are just moving into a new property or renting. Luckily there are some easy-to-spot signs that will tell you if your old appliances are faulty (which we cover below).
What can happen if a gas leak isn’t dealt with?
A gas leak can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and even explosions.
So, if you smell gas, you should take immediate action.
How do you detect a gas leak?
The most tell-tale sign of a leak is the smell of gas in your home. But there are also particular physical symptoms you may suffer from if there is a leak.
If you are feeling lightheaded, ill, dizzy or nauseous you should go outside immediately. If the symptoms go away in the fresh air you could be feeling the effects of a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning.
There can also be some clear signs from your household appliances that can indicate a leak, even if you can’t smell gas:
- Always look for a crisp blue flame, rather than an orange or yellow flame.
- Likewise, look out for a pilot light that always seems to blow out.
- On the outside of the appliance watch out for soot or any black or brown scorched areas around your appliances.
- Watch out for excessive condensation on the windows, or a musty smell in the air.
What should I do if I smell gas?
To avoid the worst, you should always take action immediately if you smell gas in your home.
The first step is to turn off the gas supply at your gas meter. The valve that regulates the flow of gas will be connected to your pipe at a right angle, but can sometimes be difficult to locate and/or hard to access.
That’s why you should always familiarise yourself with whether your gas supply can be turned off — especially if you’re in a new property or have recently made changes to the layout.
The next step is to get fresh air into your home to help disperse the gas. Open all the windows and doors and leave them open to ensure air flow.
If you can’t open the windows because they’re locked or for any other reason, get outside and into the fresh air as soon as possible.
While you are airing out your home, avoid using any electrical switches, as the sparks could cause an explosion. This includes light switches or electronic doorbells. Similarly, avoid smoking, using matches or burning any naked flames (e.g. candles) as they could all ignite the leaked gas.