Here in Colorado, we use natural gas throughout our homes. You have a gas forced heating system, a gas stove in your kitchen, gas fireplaces throughout your home, possibly even a gas grill in your outside entertaining area.
Are you vigilant to ensure it’s all working properly, all of the time?
Every year, there are reports of people dying because of undetected or unrecognized gas leaks. Occasionally you’ll hear of a house exploding after gas fills the basement, and something sets it off.
Natural gas - methane - isn’t poisonous. Instead, it displaces the oxygen we need to breathe. As it impacts your system, you start to feel tired, nauseated, with your heart rate and breathing starting to increase. If it continues, you black out, and eventually stop breathing.
Methane is also highly combustible, meaning your home is at risk for an explosion if it reaches the perfect conditions. If there is less than 5 percent in the air, it won’t ignite. If there is more than 15 percent, the ratio of oxygen and methane isn’t enough to ignite. But in the middle - that’s where trouble brews. And that’s why your home should be protected to alert you when trouble arises.
Natural gas is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas. At the source, the utility company adds a substance called mercaptan to give it a distinctive rotten egg smell. If you detect this smell, act fast. This is indication problems are forming, and it’s best to get professionals in as quickly as possible.
While the smell is one of the biggest indicators, it isn’t the only one. Also, watch for dead or discolored landscaping around the gas line. If you hear a hissing sound coming from the pipes, or see dirt or dust blowing around the pipes, it may be a sign of a small leak. You should also have a carbon monoxide detector that alerts you in the event of any registered problem.
The easiest way to prevent gas leaks is to have regular maintenance checkups on a regular basis. A professional HVAC technician should come out spring and fall, before you start your HVAC equipment for each season, to ensure all of your equipment is in good working condition. They can check connection fittings, and replace worn parts before they become a problem.
Also, call your utility company before you do any digging in your landscaping. They will come out and mark gas lines free of charge, to ensure you stay safe during any home renovation.