Gas lines are useful for a variety of home appliances. However, these modern-day marvels can be dangerous if they are damaged and begin to leak. A gas leak can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, home fires, or even an explosion.

Homeowners must understand what can cause a gas line leak, how to detect one early, and how to protect their homes with preventative measures. Here, we’ll cover what you need to know to keep your home and family safe from hazardous gas line leaks.

How Home Gas Lines Work

To properly detect and prevent gas line leaks, it’s essential that you know the basics of how home gas lines work. Utility companies provide natural gas to homes with a network of underground pipelines. Each house will have its individual supply line that connects to the home’s gas meter. If it’s an apartment or condominium, each residence will have its own meter to monitor how much gas is used.

After the gas meter, there are individual gas lines throughout your home leading to all of the connections for appliances that use natural gas. Typically, each individual connection will have its own shutoff valve. This shutoff valve stops the flow of natural gas to that specific appliance in the case of a leak, appliance replacement, or other servicing needs. In addition to the individual shutoff valves, home gas systems often include additional safety features like:

  • Excess flow valves
  • Gas regulators
  • Gas detectors
  • Ventilation

In its natural state, natural gas has no color and is completely odorless. For safety, before the gas ever goes to your home, the gas is odorized. The utility company adds a distinctive smell to the natural gas so that residents can easily smell it if there’s a leak. This is what you smell for a moment when you first turn on a gas stove. Being able to recognize this smell is crucial to early detection of a leak. The smell can be described as a chemical, rotten egg smell.

Gas Line Leak Causes

Now that you know a little bit about the basics of how home gas lines work, you need to know the common causes of a gas line leak. By knowing the common reasons that a gas leak occurs, you’ll be more easily able to detect one. The most common causes of gas line leaks tend to fall into one of these main categories.

Bad Installation

Unfortunately, bad installations can happen. If, like many homeowners, you purchased an existing house instead of having one built, you had no say in what company did the installation. If they cut corners, were negligent in their duties, or simply made a mistake that they failed to notice, this can lead to a gas line leak later. There are numerous ways that a bad installation can lead to a gas line leak. It could be due to improper installation techniques, incorrect materials used, insufficient pipe thread sealant, and more.

Physical Damage

Physical damage to the gas lines or connectors is also a common cause of gas line leaks. The underground gas lines can be struck during digging or a construction project. Physical damage to the lines can also happen because of a natural disaster like an earthquake or a flood.

Gas line connections can be damaged when moving or replacing appliances that require natural gas. Even more subtle ground shifts like ground settling or soil erosion can put stress and pressure on an underground gas line. This pressure can lead to an eventual leak. Understand that even a small dent in a gas line can eventually be the cause of a leak in that spot.

Corrosion

Over time and as gas pipes are exposed to excessive moisture or other harmful elements, corrosion can occur. While rare, this corrosion to the gas pipes can also be due to a chemical reaction of components in the gas itself. Regardless of the cause, as corrosion gets worse, it thins the gas pipes and makes a gas leak much more likely to occur. Keep in mind that older homes with aging infrastructure are more likely to have gas lines where corrosion is already happening.

Extreme Temperatures

Extreme fluctuations between hot and cold cause the expansion and contraction of:

  • Metal pipes
  • Pipe connections
  • Sealant

As the expansion and contraction of vital components occur, these components can loosen over time, leading to a gas line leak. This can happen anywhere with high fluctuations in temperature, whether it is inside or outside of the home.

Gas Line Leak Prevention

Detecting when a gas leak occurs is important, but it’s also a good idea to try to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Following these preventative tips can help save you money from costly gas line repairs.

Reputable Company

Whether you or having new gas lines installed or you need work done on existing gas lines, choosing a reputable company will help prevent mistakes that can lead to a gas line leak later. Research local companies, and see what others in your community are saying about them. You want to choose a company that has a long history of doing great work in your area.

Physical Damage Avoidance

While there isn’t much you can do about an earthquake or other natural disaster, you can still avoid a lot of physical damage. When planning a new construction project that involves digging underground, it’s vital that you know where the gas lines are so that you can avoid them.

Additionally, when you are moving or replacing appliances, take special care not to bump any of the connections and cause them to become loose or damaged.

Corrosion-Resistant Materials

Ensure that your gas lines and related components are all made from corrosion-resistant materials. This will ensure that your gas lines last much longer. If you live in a much older home, consider getting your old corrosion-prone gas lines replaced.

Gas Appliance Monitoring

Be vigilant when monitoring all of your appliances that utilize natural gas. You will want to check for the distinctive smell of the gas and listen for any hissing. While detection of either may indicate a small leak, professionals can repair it before it becomes much worse and more costly to repair. Installing home gas detectors is also a good idea to help with monitoring and safety.

Professional Inspections

You should be scheduling regular professional inspections of your lines to check for leaks or issues that can cause a future leak. This is especially vital in older homes with aging infrastructure. Professionals can detect early issues and fix them before they become bigger, giving you peace of mind.

Gas lines are a modern marvel that provide us with both convenience and comfort. However, despite their durability, gas lines aren’t indestructible. Be vigilant with preventative measures and get a professional inspection to ensure your gas lines don’t spring a major leak that will lead to costly repairs.

Trust the Professionals

If you live in Norman, OK or the surrounding area and you need gas line installation, repairs, or an inspection, Norman Air is there for you. We have a full range of services to help out homeowners including plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and much more. If you’d like more information, contact Norman Air today.

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