Natural gas is an efficient way to power appliances for cooking, heating and many other purposes. They are part of the plumbing systems at homes and commercial buildings. Although efficient and useful they can also experience a variety of complications.
Indications of gas line problems may include:
A primary indication of a problematic gas line is the smell. By default, natural gas is colorless and odorless. But most of the gas companies infuse a peculiar smell in the gas to allow the users to detect a leak. The smell can range from rotting egg smell to hydrogen sulphide.
- Color of the flame.
An efficient working appliance will produce a crisp and clear blue flame. On the other hand, if the flame is in the shade of orange or has flickers of yellow in it, it can indicate a leak somewhere.
- Discoloration and dead vegetation.
When there are patches of grass or other vegetation that are either dead or discolored, it is most likely due to a gas leak.
A hissing sound somewhere near a gas line is usually an indication of significant damage in the pipes.
It could be on the walls, the vegetation or anywhere near the gas lines. A white mist or fogging is caused by leaking gas.
What causes a leak in the gas lines?
- Loose piping.
The crisscross of pipe networks may have loosen over time. It could be due to various reasons both external and internal.
- Improper installation.
Whether it is the pipes or the appliance, improper installation can lead to gas leaks.
Gas lines that run underneath the soil or are partially buried in the ground are vulnerable to rusting and corrosion. This is because the soil contains such substances as sulphates which can accelerate the corrosion process. It is a widespread issue that invades all plumbing systems, and it can result in cracks, fissures and wearing away of the pipes. It is one of the primary reasons for outdoor gas leakage.
- Shifting soil.
The slightest movements of the earth can put a lot of stress on the gas lines. The conditions can be worsened if the pipes are ageing and in a precarious state.
- Everyday use.
Appliances that are used regularly in the kitchen or for heating purposes are often switched on and off and turned this way and that. The seals and knobs and other parts will undergo continuous weathering due to regular stress and friction. It can result in a gradual decline in performance and is the leading cause of indoor gas leaks.
- Roots of trees.
When tree roots grow, the soil around them makes way for them. In the whole process, it can bend, dent and crack the gas lines.
- Insufficient ventilation.
Lack of proper ventilation around the appliance that uses gas to operate can significantly increase the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Although this is not a gas leak per se, increased levels of carbon dioxide can be harmful.
- External Damage.
Sometimes a gas line can be damaged when there is construction machinery working in the vicinity of the property or home.
- Ageing gas line.
If the property or the house was constructed a long time ago, it is most likely that the plumbing system is an aged one as well. A new home and a new gas line are not immune to gas leaks. However, ageing systems are more vulnerable to damage from the elements, as well as friction.
How to prevent gas leaks.
- Regular checkups.
Regularly inspecting the appliances that use gas is the most efficient way to ensure their performance as well as assess their condition. It allows the defective parts to be detected and prevent leaks.
- Install a gas alarm.
Indoor leaks can go undetected especially if the gas is carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Installing a gas alarm in an open space can prove very beneficial. Early detection and monitoring can significantly reduce gas leaks whether at home or a commercial establishment.
- Avail professional service.
Whenever a new unit requires installation or a repair need to be done, avail the service of a licensed professional. It is inarguably one of the best ways to prevent leaks anywhere in the system.
What to do in case of a gas leak?
Natural gas is necessary for many purposes. However, it is not an exaggeration to say it is one of the most dangerous components inside a building or a home. Improper handling without the right expertise and tools can be extremely hazardous both to the humans as well as the property.
When a gas leak is suspected at home or anywhere in the property, it is best to call a licensed plumber. He or she can assess the severity of the leak and offer suggestions to take care of it. Most minor issues can be quickly fixed with a repair. However, a substantial leak will necessitate replacing of parts, or appliances. Whether it is detection, repair, maintenance or replacement, a professional plumber is the most qualified person to handle the situation.
In the meantime, as soon as you detect a gas leak, observe the following measures:
- Open all the windows, ventilation and doors. This will allow the harmful gasses to flow out and make way for fresh air to circulate in the house. If you are not in a position to open the windows and doors, immediately remove yourself and everyone, including the pets, from the room and out in the open.
- Switch off the gas supply. Locate the valve and cut off the supply from the gas meter. This will prevent a further increase in gas fumes.
- Do not switch on electrical appliances or light a match or candle. It can ignite the leaked gas and cause an explosion. Also, do not use mobile phones or ring the doorbell.
- Do not attempt to inspect or detect a gas leak on your own. It can be dangerous.
- Call the emergency number or a licensed plumber outside the premises. Follow all the necessary instructions given to you by the professional until they arrive at the scene and take care of the problem.