It can be easy to miss a gas leak in your home if you are not aware of how to spot them. This can be both devastating and potentially fatal.
However, if you are aware of the warning signs that come with a gas leak, you will be able to deal with it as quickly as possible, and hopefully resolve the problem before there are any serious consequences. We are going to look at some useful tips here to ensure you can detect and prevent gas leaks in your home.
What Causes a Gas Leak?
Gas leaks within the home are usually the result of poorly fitted, badly maintained or faulty appliances. Gas can escape from poorly fitted appliances from the gas hose that leads into your appliance or from around the seal. This is why it is so important that your appliances are only installed by an accredited Gas Safe engineer.
How to Detect a Gas Leak
The most tell-tale sign of a leak is the smell of gas in your home. But in the case of a carbon monoxide leak, 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 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.
Another sign that you may have a gas leak are unexpected bubbles. This may be on a pipe, near joins in the piping, perhaps even the actual gas outlet (e.g. the hob’s gas plate). As is the case for suspected gas leaks in other areas, switch off your gas supply and contact your energy provider immediately.
Even a tiny crack in the hardware warrants attention as it only takes a small fracture for leakage to occur and a build up of potentially hazardous gas over the space of a few hours / days.
The condition of plants around the home can also be a sign of a gas leak, too. If you notice that some plants look as if they are being gently blown by a breeze, it could be gas escaping from a nearby pipe. Similarly, if plants and flowers die unexpectedly, this might be because they have been exposed to gas over a period of time. There may not always be visible signs that gas poisoning has occurred.
What Should I Do if I Smell Gas?
If you smell gas in your home it is important that you take action fast.
- Turn off the gas supply at the 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.
- 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 for any reason, get outside and into the fresh air quickly.
- 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.
- Once you have taken these steps and dealt with the imminent danger, it is time to call in the experts. The National Gas emergency number is 0800 111 999, but don’t just rely on memory. Save the number in your phone book and have it written down in an easily accessible location, like on a noticeboard in the kitchen. Do not call on a mobile phone inside your home if you suspect a gas leak, rather go outside or to a neighbour’s home if you have to use your mobile. Remember, no electrical device use if you suspect a leak.
- Once you have called the number, make sure someone is around to help the emergency engineer locate the leak and gain access to the property once they arrive.
- Finally, in the unlikely event that a fire breaks out, your first call should be to the fire service on 999.
How Do I Prevent a Gas Leak?
It is far easier to deal with a gas leak by stopping it from occurring in the first place. Your first line of defence is with your household appliances.
Always make sure they are installed by an accredited Gas Safe Register engineer, and make sure you check them on a regular basis for signs of wear and tear.
Likewise, if they do require maintenance, make sure your engineer is registered. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home. These are cheap to purchase from DIY stores and look just like smoke alarms. Make sure they are installed in an open space like a hallway, and change the batteries annually.