ELGAS Knowledge Hub

Ten ways to detect a gas leak

25 Jun, 2023 | Business LPG, Residential LPG

In this article:

Easy ways to check for an LPG leak and how to manage it.
LPG leak detection

Using your nose is the first step to detect LPG gas leakage. The first hint would be the smell of rotten cabbage or rotten eggs. An odourant – Ethyl Mercaptan – is added to the naturally odourless LPG for the aid in detection of leaks. Here is a quick list of ten ways to Detect a Gas Leak in Your Home.

1) Smelling rotten eggs
2) Hearing a gas leak- it will sound like a hissing noise
3) Electronic gas leak detectors
4) Higher gas bills
5) Seeing moving dust or a white mist near gas pipes
6) Yellow, orange or red gas flame colour on a stove or cooktop
7) Scorching or soot in an unusual location on the gas appliance
8) Gas pilot light keeps going out
9) Dead or dying plants or trees
10) Feeling unwell

1. Using Your Nose

For safety reasons, the gas suppliers add an odourant – Ethyl Mercaptan – to the gas to help detect a gas leak in your home. Check near all of your gas appliances. Natural gas and LPG are naturally colourless and odourless without this additive. Most people describe the smell as either rotten eggs or rotten cabbage. This smell is the warning of a gas leak.

2. Using Your Ears

Leaking gas from a small opening may cause a hissing noise. Once again, check near all of your gas appliances. Once you determine the general area, you can utilise the soapy water leak test to identify the exact location of the leak. Be sure to check all connections with the soapy water, as well. Rinse afterwards.

3. Electronic Detectors

For another use of your ears, you can purchase electronic combustible gas detectors online or in your local hardware store. They detect both natural gas and LPG, as well as carbon monoxide. They can be stationary or handheld portables. It has an audio alarm, similar to a smoke detector.

4. Higher Gas Bills

You may have a leak if you notice that your gas bills show higher consumption, in gas units, than the same period in the previous year. Sometimes the leaks are so slow that you can neither smell nor hear them but they may show up on your gas bill. Remember to use units like cubic meters, cubic feet, kilograms, litres, or gallons and not the monetary value, as prices may have changed. Remember that things like colder weather, additional gas appliances or extra house guests can increase gas use.

5. Using Your Eyes

If you ever observe a white mist or cloud near gas pipes, it could be indicative of a pipe rupture or similar leak. Moving or swirling dust may also occur. You should evacuate the area immediately and call for help from a safe location.

6. Flame Colour

Using your eyes once again, if you observe a red or yellow flame, there is something wrong with your appliance or you may have a leak. Chance are that your burners just need cleaning and, in any case, you should have gas appliances serviced at least every two years, or more often if recommended by the manufacturer. But red and yellow flames are also indicative of the production of carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas. So, call a gas fitter for a service call and immediately stop using the appliance.

7. Scorching or Soot

If you see scorching or soot in an unusual location on the appliance, it may indicate a leak when the appliance is turned on. For example, a burner connection that is leaking may create a flame in an unintended place, causing heat and soot.

8. Pilot Lights That Go Out

Whilst pilot lights are much rarer in modern gas appliances, they still exist. Leaks are one cause for a pilot light to keep going out. If you have that problem, it is time for a service call.

9. Dead or Dying Plants or Trees

If an underground gas leak occurs caused by corroding pipes or leaking connections, plants or trees nearby may start dying. House plants can also be affected.

Plants are very sensitive to atmospheric changes. If there is no other obvious reason for the tree/plant problem and they are near or on top of a buried gas line, it is worth getting it checked with a gas detector. Leaking gas may even affect indoor plants.

10. Feeling Unwell Due to Possible Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Nausea, headaches, difficulty or irregular breathing, fatigue, chest pain, flu like symptoms, dizziness or light-headed, and drowsiness can all be signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Properly functioning gas appliances are quite safe. A blue flame is one indication of proper function and complete combustion. As discussed, malfunctioning units may generate carbon monoxide, due to incomplete combustion. If you experience any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning while operating your indoor gas appliance, you should stop using it until it is serviced by your gas fitter.

In conclusion

If you do have a gas leak, turn off the gas at the meter or the LPG cylinder. Also, if safe to do so, leave windows and doors open and then evacuate the building. Do not operate any electrical switches or any other ignition sources, including telephones. Only call for assistance from a safe location. If there is a fire involved, just evacuate immediately and call for help as soon as possible.

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