Gas Leak


The smell of natural gas should always be unsettling to a homeowner. It represents a significant and potentially lethal problem. Natural gas, itself, has no odor. It is the potentially dangerous nature of a natural gas leak that has prompted utility companies to add merchantman or other equally noxious compounds to the gas mixture. It is these compound that consumers actually smell. If you smell a gas leak our first and most important recommendation is to LEAVE your home and call your local gas company to come out to check the source of the leak.  All gas companies have a hotline number for this type of emergency.

This article addressses the smell of a small localized gas leak that a good do-it-yourselfer may be able to identify however our recommendation is still to always leave your home and call your local gas company to come out to find the source of the leak and then call a professional plumber to come out to repair it.

Here are some basic steps to identify a localized gas leak.

  • If the smell of gas is detected, turn off the source immediately and air out all affected areas. This process will lessen the immediate danger and will aid in localizing the leak. While waiting for the air to clear, prepare a solution of dish soap and water; a cup of water with an ounce of soap will suffice.
  • Next, turn the gas back on. Then use your nose and follow the smell to the source of the leak. Once you’re in the right vicinity, simply spray or paint the soap solution on every gas joint you can see. The leak will cause numerous soap bubbles to form.
  • Go ahead and check the other joints anyway as some stress has caused this leak and may, very well, have caused others. Now, that you have found the leak or leaks, it is a simple matter to repair or replace the damaged joints.

REMEMBER: A gas leak can kill in several ways; by asphyxiation, fire or explosion.

When you first detect the smell, remember these five points about all gas leaks.

  1. The first step is always to turn the gas off at the main.
  2. Do not enter the affected areas until the air has been refreshed.
  3. It is imperative that the leak be found and repaired immediately.
  4. Localize the leak and then conduct a joint by joint search for the leak using soap and water.
  5. After you have had a professional plumber repair the gas leak, turn on the gas, but don’t use any gas appliances. Wait at least twenty minutes to confirm that the leak has been adequately repaired.

Repairing a gas leak is not particularly difficult but it is extremely important that it be completed correctly. Therefore you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your local gas company and then a professional plumber who has a the proper tools and expertise to detect and fix the leak.