I Smell Gas Odors in My House, Now What?
Natural gas or propane, is designed to identify itself with a sweet and easily distinguishable odor. If you smell gas, it is extremely important that you leave the premises with your family members, and get away from the structure immediately. Once safely outside, call 911 immediately and report gas fumes.
It does not matter if the call ends up as a false alarm. A false alarm is a much better alternative to an explosion and injury.
AGAIN / IF YOU SMELL GAS / EVACUATE / CALL 911
The leaking of natural gas or propane, is not a common occurrence. However that being said, the following conditions should be understood, to allow an understanding of the function, routing and installation of gas lines.
1.) Gas lines are required to be painted yellow, and be identified as gas lines, by stickers or decals adhered to the pipe itself.
2.) Buried gas lines will have a yellow caution ribbon buried over the top of the lines, to identify the location of any buried gas lines prior to reaching their depth in the ground.
3.) Special pressure tests are conducted on all gas lines prior to activation, to ensure that there are no compromises within the gas lines full assembly, inclusive of unions, valves, meters, etc.
4.) Special testing equipment is available and used by professionally trained individuals to detect any leaks, or other problem issues with gas lines.
What special conditions could result in a gas leak?
1.) Excavation / If there is excavation occurring in the street or elsewhere, there is a possibility that a buried gas line could be compromised. If you smell a gas condition in the vicinity of an excavation, this MUST be reported immediately.
2.) New installations / Many homes and commercial buildings have gas lines routed within the interiors of the structures. Especially if a new gas line, or gas equipment is installed, the smell of gas, could identify an issue that was never properly addressed. Again, immediately report this smell.
3.) Renovations / Unfortunately, it is common for various contractors to attempt to connect to existing gas lines, or create new routing for gas lines within existing structures. Due to the difficulties encountered with the correct and proper installation of gas within a structure, there are those contractors who will attempt to short circuit the system, and make their own, unauthorized tie in. If this is suspected, immediate notification to the gas company is your responsibility. Unauthorized connections to existing gas lines circumvents all of the safety precautions, testing and approvals that new lines are subjected to. Therefore this type of maverick behavior could cost someone their life.
4.) Unauthorized gas usage / Once again, unfortunately, the use of gas without authorization is attempted by parties that are either financially stressed, or do not understand the dangers of unauthorized gas usage. Gas is a highly volatile product and will cause extreme damage and injury if not used properly.
5.) Old gas lines / Although all old gas lines are required to be periodically pressure checked and inspected on a timely basis, the identification of these existing gas lines are many times not reported. The reporting of the existing gas lines will require authorization for their use, as well as the generation of a gas bill. Many individuals do not like to be charged for something that, if they keep their mouths shut, they are obtaining for free! Therefore, in certain areas of the country and especially the inner cities, old gas lines are not reported, nor inspected. This could result in disasters. If there is a gas smell in these types of situations, evacuate the structure immediately. If an old gas line is leaking, that could mean a general breakdown of all the gas lines within the structure. Immediate evacuation is required.
Gas is a wonderful, economic and efficient method of fuel for hot water heaters, boilers, gas appliances, etc. However as with all other fuels, the installation of gas is highly regulated and controlled. Unfortunately as with everything, there are individuals that do not observe the safety issues of gas usage, and will take advantage of existing lines, as well as existing or dormant services.
Awareness is acutely important regarding any gas smells. If you smell gas, do not inspect or investigate, evacuate the structure, and immediately call 911 and report the gas smell.
LET THE PROFESSIONALS HANDLE THE GAS SMELL / NOT YOU!