Natural gas is the fastest-growing energy source in Australia and is currently widely used for both residential homes and businesses. It has long been considered the cleanest and safest fossil fuel available today. And it’s non-toxic and non-poisonous well until it leaks and displaces air in a room.
When natural gas leaks, it increases the risks of fires and explosions. It spreads quickly, changing the concentration of the air you’re breathing. And as the presence of gas in the air increases, the worst its effects are. Here’s a quick overview:
- At 25% to 30% of natural gas in the air, your ears will start ringing, and you will feel euphoria and unexplained changes in your behavior.
- At 50%, you will be unable to move and save yourself.
- At 75%, you are immediately incapacitated, and you may die in just a couple of minutes.
A gas leak in an enclosed space, like your home, can result in a lack of oxygen in your body. Soon after, you will start feeling the symptoms of hypoxia, including fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, and loss of consciousness. If not contained, this can lead to a disaster – i.e., flash fire or explosion.
So if you notice any signs of gas leaks, make sure to act quickly. But since natural gas is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, it can be difficult to tell when there’s a leak. Luckily, gas utilities are required to odorize natural gas. To do this, they need to add mercaptan odorants or a mixture of sulfur compounds, which creates a distinctive odor. What is this smell? Let’s find out!
Recognizing The Smell Of A Natural Gas Leak
A carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm can’t detect a natural gas leak. Only your nose can. This is possible through the addition of mercaptan, which, even in very low concentrations, results in a strong smell. This odor is easily recognizable. It smells like a boiled egg that has been sitting for days in your bag. Other than rotten eggs, this smell can also be described as petroleum or sulfur-like.
However, take note that you may not be able to notice this strange smell if other odors are masking or hiding them. For example, when you are cooking or when your home is filled with musty or damp odors. Your pipe and soil conditions can also cause the smell to fade.
Additionally, certain conditions also affect your ability to smell a gas leak, including:
- If your sense of smell has diminished
- If you have been exposed to the odor for too long and you are not able to distinguish it. This is also known as odor fatigue.
- If you have a cold, allergy, or sinus
- If you are using alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other medications
If you can relate to any of these conditions, you shouldn’t rely on just your nose. You can use the signs below to determine if there’s a gas leak in your home.
Other Signs Of Gas Leak To Look Out For
- Hissing sound near your gas lines
- Dead plants
- Unusual fog, white mist, or cloud around your property
- Unusual behavior in your pets (vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite)
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above or smell a gas leak, stay calm, and stop what you are doing. Without turning on and off any of your electrical switches or unplugging anything, go outside and stay far away from your home. At a safe location, call your local gas leak experts.
For Sydney residents, you can call Inspired Plumbing at (02) 9190-6765. We are your local gas fitter and plumber in Baulkham Hills, Abbotsford, Russell Lea, Strathfield, Forest Lodge, and all across the Sydney area.