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Detecting Gas Leaks

Natural gas is generally safe, economical, and efficient, providing heat and the ability to cook meals, dry clothing, and heat water to more than half of all Australian residences. However, gas leaks can become a health issue and a hazard to any household. This occurs mainly because natural gas is inadequately installed or managed.

Aside from the health dangers, gas leaks can cause explosions due to the highly combustible nature of the vapours. This article will provide you with a guide on how you can find a gas leak, what to do after you find one, and how to keep people and property safe.

Sources Of Gas Leaks

Old pipes

Gas is the primary heating source in many residences and business buildings in Australia. Gas pipes that transport gas from an external source into the building have a lifespan of approximately 40 to 50 years. The pipes begin to lose their seal or break due to general deterioration after a period.

This might potentially result in an unexpected gas leak throughout the building. So, building managers need to inspect plumbing regularly to make sure it's still up to code.

Gas appliances

Gas is used to power a variety of products in both household and business settings. Included in this category are fireplaces, stoves, gas heaters, and water heaters. Similar to piping, this equipment ages quickly. Their seals might fail without warning, resulting in a gas leak.

There have been numerous instances in which appliances were left on, and gas flowed throughout the building, causing illness or fire. You can do indoor air quality testing with the help of experts. They can tell which appliances are working and those that you should throw away.

Poor ventilation

Due to Australia's warm environment, many buildings are equipped with air conditioning and ventilation systems, which are essential for maintaining clean, fresh air. However, as these machines age and malfunction, they may emit carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

As the gases are odourless and colourless, it will be difficult to detect that the system is not functioning without a thorough inspection. Some ventilation and air conditioning systems were constructed to last 10 to 20 years. Nonetheless, you can drastically shorten the lifespan if the air quality is poor. This emphasises the need for regular inspections by industry experts.

How To Detect A Gas Leak

Here are the steps to take if you're worried about a gas leak:

Perform a soapy water test

Mix a teaspoon of soap into a cup of water to make a concentrated solution. Soak the place you think is leaking with the soap solution and look for bubbles. The presence of bubbles is a sign that there may be some form of leakage in that area.

Check the stove or oven top

The flame is usually blue when you turn on a gas stove for the first time. If the flames coming from your stove burner are orange or red, there may be gas in the air that is taking away oxygen. This is another sign of gas leakage.

Listen for whistles or hisses

You might have a significant gas leak if you hear hissing or whistling sounds near your gas line. Pay attention to where the hissing sound is coming from. If it's coming from near your air conditioner, it could be your refrigerant line, a leaking valve, or a broken compressor.

Look for sulphur or rotten eggs smell

Since most gases don't have a colour or smell, natural gas companies usually add mercaptan to them to make them smell different.

The smell usually smells like sulphur or rotten eggs, so it's easy to find in your home. If you smell this smell, you might want to find out where the leak is coming from or call a plumber.

Use a gas leak detector

A gas leak detector is the best way to determine if you have a gas leak. You can choose from several different gas leak detectors. There are a lot of sensors and leak detectors on the market.

It's best to buy a device that can detect more than one gas when you're out shopping. Manufacturers of gas detectors and sensors are very specific about which gases their products can detect, so if it's not on the package, it won't work.

Some of the common gases recognised by leak detection sensors include radon, toxic gases (carbon monoxide), and combustible gases (propane and methane). Here are a few gas detectors to consider when shopping for one.

Propane and natural gas detectors

Portable, extension, and plug-in propane and natural gas detectors are available. The Techamor Y301, for instance, is a voice alarm and digital display methane, propane, and flammable natural gas leak detector. It is designed to detect gas leaks in your home from your kitchen all around the clock.

If you need to pinpoint the exact location of a gas leak, a portable gas detector like the Y201 Portable Propane and Natural Gas Leak Detector is ideal. This device can detect gas leaks both indoors and outdoors.

Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced by gas-powered domestic appliances such as boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, and stoves. When fuels like natural gas, coal, or propane don't burn all the way, carbon monoxide is made. By using a carbon monoxide detector, you can avoid severe damage and death when there are significant quantities of carbon monoxide in enclosed spaces.

The First Alert Voice Location Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is an example of a carbon monoxide detector. It has an electrochemical CO sensor and a voice alarm that tells you where the carbon monoxide is most concentrated.

Radon detector

Experts recommend that dwellings be repaired if the radon level is 4 pCi/L (picocuries per litre) or above. The report also says that the problem should be fixed when radon levels are between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L (it is hard to get levels below 2 pCi/L) since there is no known safe level of radon exposure.

The Airthings Corentium Home Radon Detector 223 is battery-powered and lightweight. On-screen findings display both long-term and short-term values because radon levels fluctuate daily. Short-term readings will show if the fixes worked, if levels are high and if steps are taken to fix the problem.

What To Do When You Find A Gas Leak

You should not ignore gas leaks. Even if you believe it is a small leak, address it quickly. Here are some measures you can take to deal with gas leaks both inside and outside your apartment:

Gas leaks inside the house

Take the following steps if you smell gas in your home.

  • First, get everyone out of the house and open all of the doors and windows.
  • Next, exit the house and turn off the gas at the meter or LP gas cylinder if you use one.
  • Turn off your power at the energy meter box as well, if possible and safe, so that electrical appliances cannot cause a spark.
  • Move to a safe distance and call a plumber or the gas distributor in your area.

Gas leaks outside the house

  • Turn off or remove all ignition sources, including cigarettes, mobile phones, and other electrical devices.
  • Call your state's emergency number and tell them where the leak is and any additional information you believe is essential.
  • Finally, switch off the gas at the meter.

The meter is generally on the side or front of your house. Turn the gas meter valve to the "OFF" position. The valve is off when the handle is at a right angle (across) to the gas inlet pipe.

How To Prevent A Gas Leak

You must always be cautious about gas leaks in your home. Not only can it have a considerable impact on your family's well-being, but it can also cause a fire. Gas appliances that are becoming old and damaged or have poor ventilation, equipment that was fitted or installed haphazardly, and defective pipes are all significant causes of gas leaks.

Here are some insightful tips for protecting your loved ones and preventing gas-related events in your home:

Inspect your appliances regularly

The most effective way to prevent gas leaks is to inspect your appliances regularly. Check for wear and tear and ensure they are safe to use.

Get a fire extinguisher

Gas leaks are incredibly combustible. A spark may ignite natural gas, and a simple phone call might set it off. Maintain at least one fire extinguisher in your house and do regular inspections. If there is a fire, this safety device will be beneficial.

Keep your chemicals safe

Keep any home chemicals, such as paint and cleaning products, away from gas lines and appliances. These chemicals must be kept in a clean, dry environment. Annually, go through them and remove expired cleansers or chemicals among them.

Investigate for burnt parts or soot

There is a leak if you notice the scent of gas anywhere in your house. Look for gadgets that appear to have burnt parts or soot. A blue flame sign should also aid your investigation.

Have your gas lines checked

Get in touch with a professional and have them assess your gas system to ensure all your gas appliances are up to scratch. A professional gas fitter can catch leaky gas pipes before they become problematic.

Examine your gas safety documentation

Make sure your appliances are fitted correctly and have certified safety documentation. Get an expert to set up any appliance you want installed to prevent gas leaks as they can be dangerous.

Get An Expert To Inspect Your Gas System

Gas leaks are not just dangerous to human health but also to the environment. This is why you must do all you can to prevent a gas leak. Preventing gas leaks can be achieved through regular maintenance and inspection of gas appliances to ensure that they are safe for use.

Ensure that your gas appliance is inspected at least once every three months. This inspection should be done by a certified gas fitter with the required experience to carry out proper routine maintenance and fix problems when gas leaks are detected.

If your appliances haven't been inspected in the last four months, it is time to speak to a gas-fitting company now!

Need an Experienced Plumber?

Tropical Coast Plumbing's team of experienced plumbers are here to offer you the best in residential and commercial plumbing solutions. Whether it be gas plumbing, emergency plumbing, blocked toilets, hot water installation or general plumbing, our plumbers know how to get the job done right.

Choose Tropical Coast Plumbing for the best:

Plumbers in Mackay

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Plumbers in Townsville

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"With over 20 years of experience Tropical Coast Plumbing provide the best plumbing service and expert advice in QLD. Your local Plumber for Mackay, Townsville, Rockhampton and Yeppoon"
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