Let's begin with the dangers of Natural Gas
Gas-powered appliances and fossil fuel-burning heating systems are known to generate a variety of air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, particulate matter as well as volatile organic compounds. It is also worth noting that combustion releases methane and impacts air quality.
There are voluntary indoor air quality standards for all these pollutants in the U.S.A, bearing in mind that exposure to them has been consistently linked to serious health concerns, including impaired lung function, cancer, worsening asthma, damage to the nervous system, heart disease symptoms, and delayed neuro development in children, and premature death. However, these standards are just voluntary, implying that the levels of pollutants in households are rarely tracked. Your exposure to these pollutants from natural gas can also result in death.
And because natural gas is naturally odorless and invisible, it is always quite difficult to detect at high concentrations in the atmosphere. However, to combat this particular problem, natural gas distribution companies usually add a form of mercaptan, a unique chemical that strikingly smells like a rotten egg. At relatively low concentrations, natural gas leaks can be detected through smell. However, relying entirely on your smell can not only prove a daunting task, but can be disastrous as well.
And this simply means that without a robust natural gas detection system at your disposal, your health and that of your family could be at risk in any of the following ways:
1) Reduced oxygen levels: Leaking natural gas will replace oxygen in ambient air. In case you didn't know, natural gas is lighter than oxygen and will rise in a room if allowed to escape from either a leaking fitting, appliance, or burner. And without adequate oxygen in your environment, you'll ultimately be unable to breathe, resulting in several symptoms such as dizziness, headache, throat and eye irritation, breathing issues, nausea, fatigue, among others.
2) Carbon monoxide poisoning: One of the major applications of natural gas in both residential and industrial settings is to provide heat. And this generally involves burning the gas in the presence of oxygen or air. If natural gas is burned in the absence of enough oxygen, the incomplete combustion process results in the creation of carbon monoxide, an extremely toxic gas that is highly dangerous to humans. Carbon monoxide commonly extrudes a pungent smell and can cause numerous health effects when inhaled. With that in mind, carbon monoxide poisoning is very similar to natural gas poisoning, with severe cases resulting in fatality!
3) Risk of a major flash fire or explosion: Leaking natural gas can easily and promptly become an explosive hazard. In fact, it only needs a concentration of less than five percent by volume to create a highly explosive atmosphere!
Signs to look for to establish whether you have a gas leak in your home:
Natural remains the world's cleanest fossil fuel, only producing water vapor, carbon dioxide, and small amounts of nitrogen oxide when burned. When used appropriately, natural gas is a safe and efficient source of energy. However, like almost all energy sources, natural gas can be dangerous, especially if handled inappropriately. And a gas leak can not only trigger fires, but inhaling the gas can easily lead to poisoning. To enhance the safety of your home, you should be able to identify the tell-tale gas leak symptoms and also know the steps you should take in the event of a gas leak. Below are common signs of a gas leak that should warrant your immediate attention:
1) Hissing sounds: Extensive gas leaks in pipes or appliances may produce hissing sounds, even if your appliances are turned off. Always examine pipes and appliances more regularly, paying attention to any hissing sounds.
2) Unhealthy houseplants: When a gas leak remains undetected for an extended period, there will not be a sufficient amount of oxygen in your house for your plants to breathe. Eventually, you'll notice symptoms such as dead or unhealthy houseplants in your dining room, kitchen, or bedroom. It is vital to note that severe gas leaks don't only impact the health of your houseplants. It is a problem that can be fatal if you don't seek the help of a nearby gas leak plumber to check your gas lines.
3) Dead or dying plants within your home: Stunted, dying, or dead plants in your home could also be an indication of a gas leak and gas line . The presence of natural gas leaks prevents the roots of plants from absorbing sufficient oxygen, resulting in wilting.
4) Ever-increasing gas usage: A dramatic increase in the amount of gas you use in your home can also be a sign of a gas leak. While seasonal increases in natural gas consumption when using a gas furnace are quite normal, unexplained increases are highly likely to indicate a leak somewhere within your home.
5) Physical symptoms of poisoning: When you are exposed to low levels of natural gas, you'll ultimately suffer a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and irregular breathing. Increased levels of natural gas poisoning can lead to severe headaches, memory issues, nausea, loss of concentration, loss of consciousness, suffocation, and even death. If you suspect you might be experiencing natural gas leak symptoms, you should act very fast to contact a healthcare professional.
6) The presence of orange or yellow flames: Gas stoves generally give off a blue flame when you first light up the burner. However, if yours gives off red or orange flames, it simply means there could be a gas in the air that is perhaps taking oxygen away!
If you think you have a gas leak, how can you determine the source of the gas leak in your home?
There are a few techniques and tools homeowners can use to detect a gas leak, if you are a DIYer. These tools and techniques will allow you to confirm that indeed there is a problem, demonstrate the extent of the problem so that you can take the right step toward mitigating the problem. Below are some of the ways through which homeowners can detect the source of a gas leak in their premises:
1) Conduct the soapy water test: To conduct this test, mix a tablespoon of soap into a cup of water to have a concentrated solution. After this, douse that particular area within the gas line, you suspect is leaking the gas with the solution you just created. Closely monitor any bubbles that may show up. And if they do, it could be an indication that gas is escaping from that particular location. A properly functioning gas pipe will not exhibit any change whereas a leaking gas pipe will cause bubbles to form in the area you applied the solution.
2)Take advantage of a gas leak detector: This is arguably the surest way to determine the source of a gas leak in your home. Gas detectors are not only affordable, but offer a swift and easy confirmation of the presence of gas in your home. There are numerous gas leak detector options you can choose from, depending on your budget and preference.
Gas pressure test:Gas Leak detection using nitrogen gas can be conducted either before the first operational use of gas equipment or at intervals during regular operation. Nitrogen gas boasts numerous physical qualities that make it suited to leak testing. It can therefore be used to assess and evaluate the integrity of gas lines and also test gas vessels for leaks.
What steps should you take if you are affected by a gas leak?
Knowing what is expected of you during an emergency could save lives! If you strongly suspect that there is a gas leak in your home, take the below steps and procedures:
1) First and foremost, turn off the gas at the mains tap, which is generally located near the meter. Gently move the handle a quarter degree turn until it is at 90 degrees from the main pipe to completely stop the gas supply.
2) Open all your windows to enhance the circulation of fresh air into your house.
3) Evacuate the premises as fast as possible: Everyone in your home should leave the premises immediately and if possible, regroup at a safe place away from the area. This will help minimize your exposure to the gas and create a considerable distance between you and your home in case the gas leak leads to an explosion.
4) Call the authorities for assistance: As soon as everybody is out of danger, act very fast and call for help. Follow the advice provided by your emergency advisor.
5) If you are feeling unwell potentially due to gas poisoning, call your doctor and inform them you may have been exposed to a gas leak.
What not to do during a gas leak:
There are many steps that you should never take when you experience a gas leak in your home, including:
1) Don't light a match, smoke, or use any other naked flame in your home.
2) Don't either turn on or off any electrical switches, or even electrical appliances.
3) Don't use mobile phones, doorbells, or any other device that could potentially cause a spark.
How are gas leaks repaired?
As you already know, gas leaks can be highly dangerous, and you should never attempt to repair or try to fix any plumbing issue associated with gas leaks. As always, you should only hire a plumber near you to help you diagnose and perform any gas line repairs in your home.You could also to see if they could someone to look into the leak
It's important to note that gas companies are mainly responsible for leaks on their side of the meter, whereas homeowners are responsible for leaks inside the house. Regardless, because of the risk involved, there are many situations where gas companies will have someone do a check to ensure that the leak is not caused by them . The main reason why you should always seek the services of a plumber for a gas line repair is the need for safety precautions because the work involves dealing with highly flammable and deadly gases. Any single mistake with natural gas line repair work can easily result in explosions and property destruction! Simply put, this is a job best left to your local plumber.
How much does a gas leak repair cost?
There are lots of factors that impact the overall cost of repairing a gas leak, ranging from labor costs, material cost, location, accessibility, and the extent of the damage. And this simply implies that there is no standard cost of repairing a damaged or leaking gas pipe.
Generally, the cost of labor largely depends on the level of technical and physical challenge needed to get the job done. A less experienced plumber can easily tackle a small issue without charging much. On the other hand, if your gas pipes are extensively damaged and require significant repairs or you need a gas line replacement, then this will ultimately warrant a somewhat higher level of expertise, which will eventually drive the repair costs even higher.
And when it comes to the material cost, it mainly depends on the type of pipe being used in repairing the leak. Numerous materials are used to repair gas lines, ranging from black iron, HDPE, PVC, Copper, CSST, and galvanized steel. In this regard, PVC is arguably the most affordable, costing between $15 and $20 per linear foot. On the other hand, black iron is the most expensive, costing between $20 and $35 per linear foot.
Also, keep in mind that fixing or repairing a gas leak is usually an emergency task, which in itself can hike the overall repair costs. And you are likely to pay more if you have to contact a plumber in the middle of the night, or on a holiday or weekend, for instance.
On average, however, you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $800 to professionally have your leaking gas line repaired. The cost may be higher if the leak is inaccessible either because the line must be excavated, or for some other reason, adding at least $1000 to the initial cost. Of course, these are only estimates and you will have to contact your gas leak plumber to assess the extent of the damage to your gas lines and provide you with the exact cost of the repairs.
The bottom line is
As an alternative source of fuel, natural gas guarantees several benefits to both businesses and homeowners. And provided you follow the recommended natural gas safety precautions, know the signs of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning, and understand what needs to be done during a gas leak, you are less likely to experience any problem in your home. And most importantly, there are steps you can take to prevent natural gas leaks and associated complications, such as installing carbon monoxide detectors and scheduling routine gas line inspections of your appliances that use natural gas such as your furnace, water heater, dryer, gas stove etc.