What would your reaction be if you suspected a gas leak? Would you delay dealing with it or would you immediately act on your instincts? Many of us can make bad decisions when we’re unsure about what’s expected of us and feeling a bit panicky. Here, we provide our guide to gas leaks – what to look for and how to deal with one should one present itself.
What to look for
The most common symptom of a faulty gas system is an egg-like odour. While natural gas is odourless, it’s routine for gas suppliers to add that sulphuric scent to the gas to warn you that the gas is being released into the air. Visually, a healthy flame is a sign of a healthy gas system, so open up the boiler cupboard and check that the flame is a strong yellow rather than blue and that the flame is consistent and not burning in the wrong direction. Also, be wary of a sooty buildup around a gas appliance as this could point to incomplete burning of carbon which flags up a carbon monoxide issue.
If you suspect a leak, your priority is to stay safe.
1. Turn off any gas appliances and open up the windows and doors to allow fresh air into your home and minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. By giving the gas access to a wider space of air, you’ll weaken its combustion power and lower the likelihood of the gas setting your house alight.
2. Your next step is to continue doing all you can to prevent an electrical spark causing an explosion. Don’t unplug electrical items but stop yourself from using them – whether that’s switching on a light or using your landline to call for advice! Wait until you’re outside of your home and at a safe distance to use your mobile and if you’re a smoker, risk the urge to have a quick cigarette to relax you.
3. Turn off the gas at the mains which is usually found at the front or side of your house. Many systems have an ‘off’ position which is clearly labelled for your valve but if yours isn’t visible, the valve will be off once you’ve moved the handle so that it’s at a right angle across from the gas inlet pipe by the gas meter.
4. Visit your neighbours to warn them of your suspicions and remove yourself from danger. Use your mobile while away from your home to hire a Gas Safe registered engineer who will visit your home and make it safe. When he/she arrives, ask for and check the credentials on the Gas Safe Register ID card to give you peace of mind that you’re in good hands.
The Gas Safe Register provides a service where you can check that your engineer is registered by texting ‘Gas’ then the engineer’s licence number to 85080, or calling them directly on 0800 408 5500.
You can reduce your chance of a faulty gas appliance by making sure that you get your boiler checked by a Gas Safe registered heating engineer every year. To find an engineer, post your job and up to three tradesmen will contact you to quote. Always remember to check the heating engineers’ ID cards to ensure that their qualifications are still in date.