When properly installed, a gas stove is easy and convenient to use. However, it’s prone to gas leaks which can cause negative reactions in humans and pets. Furthermore, leaving a gas leak untreated increases the risk of an explosion.
In this article, learn how to detect a gas leak from experts and methods used to prevent one.
What Causes a Gas Stove to Leak?
Corrosion of internal gas pipe
Moisture from spilling water or cleaning the stove can cause the gas pipe to corrode, leading to a gas leak. To counter this issue, homeowners should clean and maintain the stove regularly to help prolong its lifespan.
Loosening of connection joints
Movement of the gas hose below the stove can cause the connection joints of the hose and pipes to loosen.
This problem rarely occurs but can be extremely dangerous when it does. Gas may fill up the entire cabinet, potentially resulting in a small explosion when it’s unknowingly ignited.
Badly fitted stove
If a stove is poorly fitted, gas can escape from the gas hose that leads into it. This results in a gas leak, which may lead to adverse consequences. Therefore, it’s crucial that homeowners get their stoves installed by a professional.
How to Tell If Your Stove is Leaking Gas
Signs of a Gas Leak
- Presence of a pungent smell
Natural gases emitted from the stove have no odour or colour. Thus, to make it easier to detect gas leaks, manufacturers add methyl mercaptan – an odorant that gives natural gases an unpleasant smell. This acts as a safety measure that alerts us to a gas leak that may otherwise go unnoticed.
If you smell a persistent odour, leave the house and engage a stove repair service to diagnose and fix the gas leak immediately.
- Presence of a hissing or whistling noise near the stove
Loose connection joints can make a faint whistling sound, indicating that there’s a gas leak. However, it’s important to note that not all gas leaks will create noises.
Therefore, homeowners should stay always vigilant and keep a lookout for signs of a potential gas leak.
- Dead houseplants
Plants are extremely sensitive to the presence of gas build-up. Therefore, dead indoor plants may signal that there’s gas leak and will require your immediate attention.
- Discoloured flame
A tell-tale sign of a gas leak is a discoloured flame. Gas stoves should typically have a blue burner flame when ignited. A consistently yellow or orange flame, on the other hand, is not normal and is a sign of a gas leak.
- High gas bill
Another way to detect if your stove is leaking gas is to compare your gas bills over 2 – 3 months. If you notice an unusual spike in cost, there might be a gas leak.
- Smell of gas when stove is turned off
If there’s a smell of gas even when the stove knobs are turned off, it’s highly likely that there’s a gas leak.
Physical Symptoms You May Experience When There’s a Gas Leak
A gas leak can reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, leading to physical symptoms like
- breathing difficulties,
- chest pains,
- eye or throat irritation,
- nausea or
- ringing in the ears.
How to Detect a Gas Leak
Use a Gas Leak Detector
A precise way to identify a gas leak is to install a carbon monoxide (CO) or natural gas detector in your kitchen.
Joonas Jokiniemi of Grill Smoke Love suggests to place the detector at a height of 70cm or lower, since the gas is heavier than air.
These devices will sound an alarm if the concentration of gas exceeds safety levels, informing you of a gas leak.
Not all CO detectors are designed to detect natural gas leaks. It’s recommended that you get a model that’s equipped to detect both types of gases.
Perform the Bubble Test
Source: How to Detect a Gas Leak
Another classic method to detect a gas leak is the bubble test.
To perform the test, all you need to do is to
- mix a small amount of dish soap or detergent with water,
- turn on the gas, and
- use a wet sponge or cloth to wipe it along the gas pipes.
If you see bubbles, there’s a leak. The bubbles are caused by the leaking gas that is pushing through the water-soap mixture. Turn off the gas and avoid using the stove before the leak has been fixed.
Use Lead Acetate Test Strips
According to Stephan Logan of Indigo Instruments, using acetate test strips is a fairly cheap and easy way to detect a gas leak.
If you use lead acetate test strips and move them near the suspected leak, the strip will change colour. This method is very commonly used in the oil drilling business as well.
What to Do If Your Gas Stove is Leaking
Evacuate Everyone in the House
If there’s a suspected gas leak, your priority is to evacuate everyone in the house. Apart from ensuring their safety, this also prevents them from inhaling more gas which puts them at risk for gas poisoning.
Open the Doors and Windows
As you exit your home, leave the windows and doors open. This improves ventilation, allowing the gas within your home to dissipate. Ideally, you should air out your home until the smell of gas inside cannot be detected.
Contact the Utility Company
If you suspect that there’s a gas leak, contact the utility company’s emergency service hotline immediately.
The company will dispatch a response team to survey your home, locate the source of the gas leak, and fix it.
Make the call a safe distance from your home as this may cause the gas to catch fire.
Contact a Professional to Repair Your Stove
You may also engage the help of a qualified repair technician to fix or replace your faulty stove.
Stay Away from Fire and Electricity
Avoid turning on electrical devices or lighting up a flame as these actions can cause the gas to ignite, leading to an explosion.
What to Do After a Gas Stove Leak
Once the leak has been repaired, you should only return inside after you’ve been officially notified that it’s safe.
Additionally, you should also keep a lookout for symptoms of
- respiratory problems,
- depression, and
- mood-related issues.
How to Prevent a Gas Stove Leak
Engage a Licensed Gas Service Worker
A licensed gas service worker will test and certify that your stove is ready for use, reducing the chances of a gas leak.
Replace Old Gas Pipes and Valves
Replacing these components are vital as they may corrode and become faulty over time, leading to a gas leak.
Check for Gas Leaks Yourself
You can check for a gas leak by periodically turning off all appliances in your home. Once this has been done, proceed to check the gas meter; it should remain inactive if there’s nothing wrong.
Fixing a Gas Stove Leak
Ignoring the signs and symptoms of a gas leak can lead to serious repercussions such as carbon monoxide poisoning or other health-related issues.
If you think that your stove is leaking gas, get it checked and fixed by a professional as soon as possible.