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Natural Gas Leaks – Look, Listen, And Smell

Most homeowners don’t know that the natural gas that comes into our homes is our responsibility. Your gas company is responsible for the gas until it hits the meter. From that point on, it’s up to the homeowner, property manager, or tenant to maintain their natural gas. It also includes all pipes leading to the pool, spa, barbeque, and all-natural gas appliances. However, that doesn’t mean your gas company will abandon you. Quite the contrary, they offer a variety of free services to their customers. You can report a gas leak, get a pilot relight, get emergency safety information, and that’s just to name a few of their services. For businesses, they provide education and training, energy-saving tips, builder services, rebates, and incentives. 

Call THE SoUTHERN CalIFORNIA Gas COMPANY If You Smell Natural Gas

If you detect that rotten egg odor and believe you have a natural gas leak, do not attempt to locate the source. Natural gas has a distinct odor of rotten eggs or sulfur. Since natural gas is odorless, your gas company uses an additive called mercaptan to give it that smell. If you ever smell gas, you can call SoCalGas. If you suspect a natural gas leak, you need to leave your home or location. As a reminder, it is not safe to turn lights on or off, and do not use your phone until you’ve exited your home or building. Once in a safe place, call the SoCalGas emergency hotline or 9-1-1. A technician will promptly be at your site. 

Remain in a nearby place until your gas company agent or an emergency response team arrives. They’ll locate the problem and have your home or business back to normal in no time at all. Remember your gas company will locate the leak and shut down the gas to the appliance or gas pipe, but they will not make repairs. Finding a plumbing contractor to repair the problem will be up to you. 

Natural Gas Smell

Look, Listen, and Smell For A Natural Gas Leak

While we know natural gas has a distinct odor, do not rely just on your nose. Also, keep an eye out for any of the following gas leak warnings:

  • Be alert for the unique natural gas odor.
  • Constant bubbles in water
  • The sound of hissing, whistling, or roaring
  • Vegetation that has died or is dying (in an otherwise damp location) near a pipeline
  • Dirt or water being hurled into the air
  • A ruptured exposed pipeline from an earthquake, a fire, a flood, or another natural disaster

If you’ve noticed any of the above conditions, call your gas company’s emergency hotline phone number or 9-1-1 from a safe location.

SoCalGas suggests three ways to locate a potential gas leak: look, smell and listen. First, look for corroded, damaged connectors on your gas appliances. The smell cannot always be relied upon because there is “odor fade.” SoCalGas® has a full printable safety guild on odor fade. We must listen because you’ll hear a hissing or whistling sound that comes from a compromised gas line or appliance. 

Know How To Turn Your Gas Off

Every homeowner should know how to turn off their gas at the meter. First, store the adjustable wrench away from the natural gas meter and any other natural gas piping. Then, in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster, turn off your gas at the meter. If you smell natural gas, hear it seeping, or see other symptoms of a leak, turn off the gas at the meter—but ONLY if it is safe to do so. Depending on the number of customers without natural gas service, it may take SoCalGas an extended amount of time to restore service.

Maintain the Security of Your Water Heater

To prevent your water heater from sliding or toppling during an earthquake, make sure your water heater is equipped with earthquake straps. In addition, you should secure it with hefty bolts secured to the wall studs in two locations – the upper and bottom third of the tank. Maintain a minimum of four inches between the lower strap and the thermostat controls. Kits are typically available at your local home center or online, and we recommend having them installed by a plumbing professional.

Have Your Pipes Inspected

SoCalGas® also suggests having your gas pipes, connections, and appliances inspected by a licensed plumbing expert. Repair gas pipes that are corroded or even appear to be unsafe. Our gas-powered appliances in our homes get heavy use. Over time these appliances wear out and leak. You can avoid appliance failure by having regularly scheduled maintenance. And remember, if you smell gas in or around your home for any reason, leave first, then call SoCalGas or dial 9-1-1.

1 thought on “Natural Gas Leaks – Look, Listen, And Smell”

  1. Phew! I’m so glad you highlighted that deceased plants near a gas pipeline might indicate a serious leakage. That was exactly what my sister discovered not far from her backyard a couple of days ago. I believe she should call a professional immediately so the issue can be resolved safely.

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