Learn to recognize the signs of a gas leak
Recognizing and safely responding to a gas leak can be lifesaving for you and your loved ones. Leaks can happen inside your house from common household appliances or outdoors from damaged pipelines.
Indoor Leaks from Common Appliances
Anyone taking on a home improvement project should be aware of the potential for gas leaks.
Whether propane or natural gas, a gas leak is extremely dangerous. If left unchecked, serious health hazards and major damage to your home can occur.
Both natural gas and propane are flammable and, under right conditions, highly explosive.
Working on or replacing a gas appliance - like a furnace, water heater, stove, gas fireplace, or clothes dryer - should only be done by someone who knows how to do the work safely – a licensed plumber or HVAC technician for instance.
Learn to recognize the warning signs of a gas leak. A rotten egg or sulfur smell and/or a hissing sound are common signs. Soapy water applied to gas connection points may show bubbles forming. You may feel light-headed or have a headache if the gas begins to displace oxygen in the room.
If you suspect a gas leak, leave the home and move a safe distance away - then contact your gas provider’s emergency number and call 911.
Do not try to find/fix the leak yourself.
Do not open windows to “air out” the house. Gas can be explosive at the right air-to-gas ratio – which only requires 5 to 15 percent gas.
Do not flip light switches, use an automatic garage door opener, or do anything else that could result in a spark.
Get a safe distance away from the leak and contact the proper authorities
Outdoor Leaks from Pipelines
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or you’ve hired a contractor to do the digging, it’s important to know how to work carefully around utilities to avoid causing gas leaks.
Pipelines securely and reliably transport gas to your home, but did you know the leading cause of leaks is damage to pipelines by digging activity performed by homeowners and contractors?
Accidentally hitting a gas line can lead to serious injury or death. You may be surprised by how many different utilities are buried just below the surface of your yard.
A rotten egg or sulfur smell, hissing sound, bubbling water, clouds of vapor, frozen ground when it’s warm, or an area of dead plants or grass can all be signs of a gas leak. If you see signs of a gas leak, contact your gas provider’s emergency number and call 911.
To avoid potential danger and fines, always contact Indiana 811 two full working days before your home improvement project begins. This service is free and may save your life.
Within two working days, buried utilities will be marked with paint and flags. Then, you’ll be able to carefully dig around those marks.
Submit your request for free online or call 811 every time you dig – no matter how big or small the project.
This fast and easy service is available for all homeowners who plan to dig, and for any contractor doing work on your property.
Not using the 811 system can result in fines and penalties.
Contact 811 before you dig and keep everyone safe.
- What to do if you suspect a gas leak
You probably know the smell – kind of like rotten eggs – or have seen things that seem off like a white cloud, bubbles in water, blowing dust or dying plants. Sometimes you can even hear it with an unusual roar, hiss or whistle. These are all signs of a potential hazard.
Here’s what to do if you suspect a gas leak:
Leave the area immediately. Stop whatever you are doing and move yourself and anyone else in the home to a safe spot far away. Don’t call 911 until you are away from the building or area of the leak, far from where you detected gas.
Remember lighting a match, flipping a switch, opening a window, starting your car or even touching appliances can create a dangerous spark of static electricity – so be cautious as you evacuate.
Call 911 to alert authorities. Give them any details you can about the location and severity of the potential leak.
Wait for experts to arrive. Do not return to the area of the leak until emergency services or utility personnel say that it is safe. Please leave the operation of pipeline valves and extinguishing of fires to professionals.
Notify the utility directly by using the contact information on your Indiana 811 ticket and inform Indiana 811 if a gas leak is confirmed.
- About natural gas odor
Natural gas is naturally colorless and odorless. For the safety of the public, an odorant called mercaptan is added to give it a distinctive smell that’s similar to rotten eggs or sulfur.
Sometimes that smell may fade or be harder to detect. Physical and chemical factors can cause the odorant to be less noticeable.
If you detect even a faint natural gas odor or suspect a gas leak but can’t smell it, make the safe choice, leave the area immediately and call 911.