The gas supply to our homes has become such an integral part of our utilities that it is sometimes easy to forget how dangerous it can be. Detecting a gas leak is a crucial thing to do that can save lives and save your property. So how do you detect a leak? And what steps can you take to prevent them in the first place?
Leaks cost lives
Around 1000 people are year are injured in gas related incidents with around 31 people dying each year for the last three years. In the majority of cases, the cause is related to poorly fitted, badly maintained or faulty appliances such as boilers and cookers. In these situations, gas can escape from the hose connect the supply to the cooker or from the seal around the boiler and this can lead to a serious incident.
Any work done to a gas appliance needs to be done by someone who is an accredited Gas Safe engineer – they used to be known as CORGI engineers. When you ring one of the British Gas telephone numbers, for example, to arrange for someone to look at your boiler, the person who visits the property will be such a registered engineer. If you are hiring someone yourself, make sure you check they are Gas Safe registered before allowing them to touch your boiler or cooker.
If you are buying a second-hand cooker or other appliance that uses gas, make sure that it is safe and has been serviced before using. Again, a Gas Safe engineer should check it for you to make sure it isn’t a hazard and is to currently safety standards.
As many as one in six homes has an appliance within it that isn’t safe. A recent survey by Gas Safe Register showed that in the last three years, Birmingham has seen the most callouts for unsafe appliances, with over 34% of homes having one. At the other end of the scale was Brighton where only 5% of homes has an unsafe appliance.
Detecting a gas leak
One of the easiest ways to know there is a gas leak is by the smell but you may also notice physical symptoms such as feeling lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous. If you notice any of these, then you may have a gas leak or there may be carbon monoxide present in your home.
There are other subtle signs of a leak that you can take notice of and that might solve the problem before it worsens. If you see an orange or yellow flame on your boiler or appliance, this is a sign of a problem – the flame should always be a crisp blue colour. If your pilot light constantly blows out, this might show a problem. Any signs of soot or scorching outside the appliance may mean gas is leaking.
Dealing with a gas leak
If you notice any of these symptoms or signs, you need to do something about it quickly. You should call your supplier immediately. The British Gas emergency phone number is one example where you can call and someone will be sent as quickly as possible to check for a leak. You can also turn off the gas at the gas meter if possible as this stops the flow of gas into the property.
Open windows to allow the gas to disperse and if you can’t then get outside so you don’t suffer the effects of the gas while waiting for the engineer to arrive. Don’t do anything that might cause a spark such as light a match or flick an electrical switch.