- Every year there are natural gas-related deaths
- Natural gas or methane is not poisonous on its own
- It can be extremely difficult to know if you have a gas leak
The most common source of energy used for heating in Salt Lake City and Park City is natural gas. Generally it is very safe, but, as with anything, there are some risks to using natural gas to heat your home and cook with. Every year there are natural gas-related deaths. Typically asphyxiation is the main cause as leaking gas often goes unnoticed; however, basements can occasionally fill with gas and become a fire hazard.
Natural gas or methane is not poisonous on its own, in fact, the issue with natural gas is that it takes the place of oxygen in the air, making it hard for humans to breathe. We need air that is made up of 18-21% oxygen. Without enough oxygen, you may start to feel dizzy and lose concentration. Eventually you will become exhausted, your heart rate will increase and you’ll fall into unconsciousness.
There are several ways you can detect a leak:
It can be extremely difficult to know if you have a gas leak. Natural gas is colorless and tasteless. Fortunately, utility companies mix the gas with mercaptan, a harmless, smelly substance. This substance is composed of sulfur and smells of rotten eggs. If you smell something rotten, you may have a gas leak and you should evacuate your home and call your utility company immediately.
If you hear a hissing or blowing sound coming from your pipes, you may have a leak. In order to get to your home, the gas is pressurized and funneled through pipes. It is possible for the pipes to become loose or cracked, letting gas into your home.
Depending on the location of the leak, you may notice an open flame. This can occur if the leaking gas has somehow been ignited, due to a spark or even a pilot light. In this case, it is imperative that you call for assistance.
If you notice that your outside plants have died or are discolored, this can be an indication of a gas leak underground. If you suspect you have a leak, call a professional.
Blowing Dirt or Bubbling Mud
Another indication of an under-the-ground leak is blowing dirt or bubbling coming from under the soil. It is especially important to look for these types of visual indicators as the dirt will often reduce the sulfur smell, making the gas even harder to detect.
Natural Gas Detectors
One of the best things you can do is to purchase a natural gas detector. These devices will alert you to most types of combustible gases, such as methane and propane. Additionally, you can often find combination detectors that will also alert you of the presence of carbon monoxide.
Whenever you suspect a natural gas leak, it is important that you contact a professional immediately. We do not advise trying to determine the precise location of the leak or trying to fix the leak on your own.