Contact Us If You Smell Natural Gas
If you smell natural gas inside or outside of your home, contact us immediately at (800)-276-2722.
Learn the Smell of Natural Gas
Natural gas is naturally odorless and colorless. To make natural gas detectable, a chemical, known as Mercaptan, is added. Mercaptan has a smell that is similar to that of rotten eggs. If your nose detects this unique odor, you know you need to act. Request a free “Scratch and Sniff” booklet if you are not familiar with the smell.
However this chemical cannot be added to Carbon Monoxide (CO), a gas that can be produced by any fossil fuel when it doesn’t burn properly and cannot be detected by the senses. Learn more about how to protect yourself from CO poisoning.
What to do if you smell gas inside a building:
What to do if you smell gas outside a building:
What not to do if you smell gas in or outside a building:
Remember, there is no charge to respond to and investigate a natural gas odor.
How to Recognize a Gas Pipeline Leak
As we mentioned above, natural gas is colorless and odorless so Mercaptan is added so leaks can be easily detected. In addition to odor, indications of a gas pipeline leak also include:
- A hissing sound
- Blowing dirt, grass or leaves near a pipeline
- Water bubbling or blowing into the air at a pond, creek or river
- A patch of dead grass or vegetation in an otherwise green area
- Flames coming out of the ground or burning above the ground
Additional Information Regarding Mercaptan
Can I get nauseous from the smell of mercaptan?
Only a very small amount of mercaptan is added to natural gas. While the smell is unpleasant, most people are otherwise unaffected.
In circumstances where there is a higher concentration of mercaptan than normal or where someone may experience prolonged exposure to the mercaptan odor, you might experience nausea, headache, or irritation to the nose and throat.
How much mercaptan is added to the natural gas system?
It takes only a few parts per million of mercaptan to give natural gas an odor that can be detected by someone with a normal sense of smell. Leaks from furnaces and hot water heaters would be nearly impossible to detect without expensive equipment. So mercaptan’s smell is a very valuable safety feature.
Purging natural gas
Never purge the contents of a natural gas line into a confined space. Purging a gas line should be performed by a qualified professional and should be done in a well-ventilated area or by venting the contents to the outside atmosphere.
Always use gas detection equipment during purging operations and when working on gas piping systems, to ensure that no natural gas is present that may result in a combustible or hazardous atmosphere.
The personnel conducting the purging process must be and remain in attendance at all times and may not leave the immediate area.
Do not rely on your sense of smell to detect the presence of natural gas.
Consult your local plumbing code, mechanical code, fuel gas code and/or your department of building and safety for more information.
When installing gas appliances or equipment, the manufacturer’s instruction manual should be followed in accordance with the guidance of the local code authority.