Do You Know the Dangers of Gas Leaks?

You likely have at least one appliance or home system powered by gas. Knowing the signs and symptoms of gas leaks can keep you, your family, and your property safe.

Some gases have a smell, others do not. How do you know if you have a gas leak in your home? First and foremost, you have to know the types of gas your home uses and then commit the warning signs of a gas leak to memory so you can act quickly and safely.

Common Types of Gas Found in a Home

Depending on where you live and the types of appliances that you use, you could have a number of gases powering your appliances in your home. The most common is natural gas, which can be used in stovetops, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, and more. Propane gas can also be used as a fuel source for heating equipment. Carbon monoxide, on the other hand, is a byproduct of running certain appliances or home systems. Though radon occurs naturally in soil in rock, prolonged exposure can pose significant health risks, including lung cancer. Learn more about the common types of natural gas that could be found in your home:

  • Natural gas powers common household appliances, and while it’s odorless and colorless, utility companies include an additive to give natural gas its distinctive odor. That pungent “rotten egg” smell comes from mercaptan or methanethiol, and if you notice it inside your home, it’s likely you have a gas leak.
  • Liquid propane (LP) gas also receives an odor additive much like natural gas. Often described as a “skunk spray” or “rotten egg,” propane gas can ignite. It’s best to leave immediately if you suspect a leak and call your gas supplier to check it out.
  • Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and invisible. When fuels are burned for appliances like a generator, space heater, furnace or even fireplace, carbon monoxide can build up indoors if proper venting is not present or a gas appliance is not functioning properly. While many building codes require at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor, there are combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors available for greater peace of mind.
  • Radon is also odorless, tasteless and colorless, which makes it impossible to detect without a special testing kit or through a professional radon inspection. AmeriSpec recommends radon tests every 2-3 years, since levels in your home can fluctuate based on temperature, time of year and any other geological shifts.

5 Common Causes of Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can be both dangerous and wasteful when it comes to safety, energy and money, and it’s helpful to know where to look for a gas leak. The most common causes of a gas leak — or gas-leak-related issues — come from a handful of areas.

  1. Household appliances. More specifically, the connection points and fittings connecting gas pipes to appliances. 
  2. Corrosion of gas pipes. These pipes can rust out, corrode and otherwise show weak spots just like any other plumbing. Tree roots may also cause holes or cracks for pipes beneath your home.
  3. Poor ventilation. Especially true for space heaters, generators, fireplaces and other energy systems, if fans and flues are blocked, underperforming or otherwise malfunctioning, dangerous carbon monoxide can leak out instead of properly diverted and distributed outside.
  4. Digging. Gas leaks are often caused by excavation. That said, any home builds or projects that require digging require a call to 811 first.
  5. Missed annual maintenance. Your major appliances and systems all have their own maintenance schedules for optimal performance and longevity. Regular maintenance on HVAC systems can be overlooked if everything seems to be working properly.

Gas Leak Warning Signs

While some gas leaks may be small and not cause harm to your health, others can lead to big problems if not addressed safely and professionally. Be sure to pay attention to these common warning signs of gas leaks, and take action immediately to protect your health and your home:

  • Catching whiffs of a “rotten egg” smell, which is a telltale sign of natural gas leaks.
  • Unhappy house plants could signal buildup of gas indoors. Plants are very susceptible to changes in air quality and dying plants could be a sign of a slow gas leak.
  • Dead grass or other landscaping signs like bubbles or a dry spot within a wet area. Gas leaks can cause bubbles in a puddle of water as it seeps up through the ground, and leaks can even dry out otherwise damp areas of the lawn or landscaping.
  • Fatigue, sickness or skin issues can be signs that something is wrong, especially if these disappear when you’re away from your home.
  • “Hissing” sounds near a gas appliance can be really dangerous — this means a large amount of gas is escaping and it’s time to leave your house and call the gas company to investigate.

Why Choose AmeriSpec for a Gas Leak Inspection

The specially trained AmeriSpec inspector near you will use a handheld gas leak detector to identify even small leaks at their source. Each appliance or system checked takes under three minutes to evaluate, and a gas leak detection test can be a separate service or bundled with another home inspection. And since our inspectors are nationally trained and certified according to state and local requirements, you get results you can trust.

Connect with a Certified Gas-Leak Inspector Near You

It’s easy to find a certified AmeriSpec inspector near you. Reach out today — we’re ready to answer any questions you have about gas leaks and gas-leak detection services.

The AmeriSpec real estate inspection services may not be available everywhere. Please contact your local AmeriSpec office for more details. AmeriSpec services are provided by independently owned and operated franchises. Availability of services may vary depending on location.