With several fatalities associated with gas leaks per year and hundreds of hospitalizations, gas security is something that every family should take seriously. In this guide, we explore what can cause the leakage of natural gas or carbon monoxide, how to detect leaks and what to do if you believe your home has a leak.
What can cause a gas leak?
In the home, gas leaks are generally the consequence of poorly fitted, poorly maintained or defective equipment such as boilers and cookers.
If your appliance is poorly equipped, gas can escape — typically from the gas pipe leading into your appliance or around the seal — so you should always ensure that an accredited Gas Safe technician installs your equipment.
You can visit the Gas Safe site or ask the engineer to demonstrate their registration card if you are not sure if your engineer is accredited. Always use a Gas Safe engineer if your devices are a little older and you have them serviced.
Also, you should be careful about aged or second-hand equipment, especially if you just move into a new home. Fortunately, there are some easy-to-spot signs that tell you if your equipment is defective (which we cover below).
How do you detect a gas leak?
The most telling sign of leakage in your home is the smell of gas. But in the event of a carbon monoxide leak, you may also suffer from specific physical symptoms if a leak occurs.
You should go out immediately if you feel lightheaded, sick, dizzy or nauseous. If the symptoms go away in the fresh air, the impacts of carbon monoxide poisoning might be felt.
There may also be some visible indications of leakage from your household appliances, even if you are unable to smell gas:
- If the flame is a tired-looking orange or yellow color rather than crisp and blue, this may signal a problem.
- If the pilot light seems to blow out at all times, there might be a problem.
- On the outside of the appliance, keep an eye out for soot or any black or brown scorched areas.
- Watch out for excessive condensation on the windows, or a musty smell in the air.
How to prevent gas leaks?
The simplest way to cope with gas leakage is to avoid the first-place occurrence. With your household appliances, your first line of defense is.
Always make sure that an accredited Gas Safe Register engineer installs any appliance and make sure that you inspect them for indications of wear and tear on a periodic basis.
Similarly, ensure that your engineer is recorded if they require maintenance. Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. These are relatively inexpensive and usually accessible in DIY shops and look like smoke alarms. Make sure they’re installed like a corridor in an open room and alter the batteries every year.
What should you do if you smell gas?
If you smell gas in your home, you should always take action instantly to prevent the worst.
Gas leaks safety The first step is to switch off your gas meter’s supply. The valve that controls gas flow will be linked at the right angle to your pipe, but it can sometimes be hard to find and/or access it.
That’s why you should always be familiar with the possibility of turning off your gas supply — particularly if you’re in a fresh estate or have lately changed the design.
The next step is to bring your home fresh air to assist disperse the gas. Open and leave all the windows and doors open to ensure that the air can flow.
If the windows can not be opened, get out and into the fresh air as quickly as possible.
Do not use any electrical switches while airing your home as the sparks could trigger an explosion. This involves electronic doorbells or light switches. Likewise, prevent smoking, matching or burning any naked flames (e.g. candles) as they could all ignite the leaked gas.
Once you’ve taken these measures and addressed the imminent risk, it’s time for the specialists to call. The emergency number for National Gas is 0800 111 999, but do not depend on memory only. Save the amount and write it down in a readily available place on your mobile phone.
The number is accessible 24 hours a day and is free to call. The overall recommendation here is not to use a mobile phone inside your home if you suspect gas leakage because there is a (very tiny) danger that the gas might be ignited. Go outside or to a neighbor’s home to be on the secure side.
Once you call the amount, make sure that someone is there to assist the emergency engineer to find the leak and access the property once they arrive.
Finally, your first call should be to the 999 fire service in the unlikely case that a fire breaks out.