You may be surprised to find out that natural gas is odorless. That horrible smell of sulfur has been deliberately added so that you can be alerted to gas leaks in the home. Natural gas can be fatal if the level is high enough. It is considered one of the cleanest and safest fuels and is used in many homes to power water heaters, stoves as well as other appliances. If it is burning correctly, it produces carbon dioxide and water vapor. In fact, natural gas gives off less greenhouse emissions than oil, coal, and wood.
Natural gas is highly combustible, which means that it is economical since you only need a little to produce lots of heat. Unfortunately, that means that a leak can become and explosion or a fire. Any leaks should not be taken lightly. If you suspect that you have a gas leak, do the following:
Do’s and don’ts if you suspect a gas leak
Should you suspect that there is a gas leak, you need to drop everything you are doing and exit the house immediately. Be sure not to turn any switches on or off, do not unplug anything and do not use the phone. Additionally, do not press the doorbell, light matches or candles, or smoke, and do not touch any appliance controls or make any adjustments to the thermostat.
Instead, put out any open flames and get everyone out of the house or the area where the smell is depending on how strong the smell is. Once you are out of the house, call the gas company and wait for their arrival. Alternatively, you can call emergency services. If you don’t have a local gas company close enough, you can call a plumbing contractor that deals with gas.
If you are only able to smell the gas when you are close to the appliance, look to see if the pilot light is still on or if it has gone out. It could also be that you have left the burner valve slightly open. If you are able to find the problem and fix it, then you will have resolved the issue. If you are not sure, get the professionals to deal with it.
What if you can’t smell it?
If you are suffering from a stuffy nose or a cold, it is possible not to smell gas as it is leaking. This is why you should have a gas detector in your home that will alert you of any gas leaks. Always make sure that your detectors are functional by checking them often and replacing batteries as needed.
If you inhale natural gas in large quantities, you can actually asphyxiate. You will experience chest pain and fatigue as the body loses oxygen since you will be breathing in more CO (Carbon monoxide). This has can cause death.
If the smell of gas is outdoors, be sure to report it immediately. Make sure not to operate or park cars close to a gas source. Should you hear the gas escaping, immediately go to the neighbor’s house and call the gas company or plumbing contractor, and stay out of your home.