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How to tell if there is a gas leak at your business or facility? This is a question you need to be able to answer – you and your team must be able to identify gas leaks and put them right quickly and efficiently. Failing to act can be seriously dangerous to your business, human health, and even life.
Take a look at these 12 signs to look out for as you consider how to tell if there is a gas leak:
- A distinct odor
Maybe the most common means of identifying a gas leak is the smell. Of course, natural gas has no odor by itself – which is one of the things that have traditionally made gas leaks so dangerous, particularly in the early days of gas plumbing. However, you will notice the scent of the methyl mercaptan – a sulfurous substance that is added to natural gas to make detection easier.
- A hissing sound
In many cases, the gas may be escaping through a very small hole in a pipe or fitting. As the gas travels through this hole at high speed and high pressure, a hissing sound may be produced.
- Dying or failing plants
Natural gas is poisonous – it is poisonous to humans, other animals, and, of course, plants. If you have plants in your facility and they begin to die away or fail to grow without warning, this could be the sign of a gas leak. Look to see if you can notice any patterns among the dying plants. Are plants more likely to fail and die in a certain area compared to others? This could direct you to where the gas is leaking.
- Strange behavior from animals
Leaking gas is unlikely to kill an animal as long as this animal still has access to clean air and can remove themselves from the vicinity of the leak. However, if the level of gas in the air grows too high, you may begin to notice strange behaviors in animals. If you have animals at your facility, watch for any changes in behavior. If they begin to grow tired and fatigued, do not display a strong appetite, or begin vomiting, this may be the sign of a gas leak. Remember, animal behavior indicators should be examined only incidentally – it’s not ethical, nor legal, to bring animals into a facility with the specific intention of checking for a gas leak.
- Unusual movements
Under high pressure, the escaping gas will accelerate to a high speed, creating a jet. If this jet comes into contact with a light material or substance – such as a fine dust, some foliage on a tree or bush, or a sheet of paper – this material or substance may begin to move as it is pressed in one direction or another by the pressurized jet of gas. There are many other factors that can cause this, but this kind of movement may be a good indicator that further investigation is required.
- Bubbles forming in water
If there are puddles of water or moist ground around your facility, this can direct you to where the leaking gas is. If your gas line runs through this area of water or moist ground, and gas begins to leak from the pipe or hose, the escaping gas may cause a bubbling effect as it passes through the water. Even if the pipe or gas line is located underground, bubbles may still be formed as the gas rises to the surface and passes through the water on its way.
- Dry patches on the ground
Escaping gas may also cause areas of the ground to dry up as the concentrated jet removes moisture from soil or from other surfaces. Watch for any strange dry patches appearing on the ground, particularly in areas that are otherwise damp or moist. This may be an indicator that there is a gas leak nearby.
- A flame with no apparent source
Natural gas is flammable, which is one of the reasons why a gas leak can be so dangerous. If gas begins to leak at your business premises, it may catch fire, creating a flame that appears to have no obvious source. The flame may be yellow or a more transparent blue, similar to the flames you might see on the gas burner on your stove. The flame may even appear to float in mid-air. This is a dangerous situation as the gas is already aflame. If it is safe to do so, remove the source of the gas, which will, in turn, remove the flame. If you cannot do this, evacuate the building and call the fire department immediately.
When considering how to tell if there is a gas leak, physical symptoms are among the key indicators. Escaping gas is likely to make you rather ill, so watch out for these symptoms.
- Headaches, dizziness, and nausea
If you begin to feel woozy, your head begins to hurt, and you feel sick for no reason, this could be a sign of a gas leak.
- Soreness of the eyes, lungs, and throat
It can quickly become difficult to breathe when there is a gas leak. You may also experience irritation of the eyes.
- Fatigue and general symptoms of being unwell
Feeling unusually tired or just feeling generally unwell and out of sorts – both of these symptoms could indicate a gas leak nearby.
- Damage to skin
While leaking gas may dry out your skin, it is unlikely to cause damage. However, contact with compressed or liquid gas may cause blistering and other damage to exposed skin.
How to tell if there is a gas leak: getting it right first time
Make sure your whole team is briefed on what to look out for so you can quickly and easily identify a gas leak. With the right approach to safety, you can make sure your business and your team are not put at risk.