Do You Have a Gas Leak?

If you smell something kind of nasty in your home, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that it’s a gas leak. Most often, that’s not actually the case. Our more energy-efficient homes tend to trap odors and contaminants that can cause a stink—one way of combating that is installing an air purifier. If you know your air is pure but you still smell something off, sewer drains are a main culprit for causing a stink in your home. There are a few things you can look for to determine whether you’re dealing with a gas leak or just a stinky drain. Read on for more tips from the experts at Santa Fe Air.

What does a gas leak smell like?

Natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless when it comes out of the ground. The natural gas used in our homes has had a substance called mercaptan added to it. Mercaptan smells like rotten eggs and acts as an “odorant” so people are alerted when there is a natural gas leak. Mercaptan itself is an organic gas found naturally in living organisms, including humans. The presence of mercaptan means a gas leak is going to smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. It’s a distinct smell once you know what you’re looking for. 

How to tell a gas leak from household odors

The most common culprit of household stink is the sewer drain—especially if you have a bathroom or sink that doesn’t get much use. It can have a gaseous smell similar to natural gas, so it’s an understandable confusion. The best course of action if you can’t tell where that farty smell is coming from is to rule things out with a few simple steps.

    1. Make sure your drain pipe’s water trap isn’t dry. A dry water trap lets out a lot of stink, so just pour a little water into your sink drain. If you’ve got a floor drain that’s stinky, pour in water with a small amount of bleach and check if that helps the odor. 
    2. Check the toilet wax ring to ensure it’s sealed.
    3. Take out your trash bag and sniff your empty trash can. Most household trash cans are made of plastic, and plastic is porous so it will hold on to odor. Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your can to help fight odor build up.
    4. Rule out a rotting mouse. We know, it’s gross to think about a dead animal stuck in your wall or under your fridge, but it happens sometimes. A rotting animal doesn’t smell the same as rotting eggs, but if you’re unfamiliar with it you could get them confused. 
    5. Apply a soap and water mix to any gas connectors in your home if none of the previous steps have revealed a culprit. Gas can potentially leak from any of your gas-connected appliances and it would cause the soapy mixture to bubble. 

What if you do smell natural gas?

If you’ve ruled out every other possibility and have come to the conclusion you’ve got a natural gas leak there are some steps you should take. First, open your windows and turn off your pilot light before leaving the house. Call the gas company to make sure someone is coming out immediately to fix the issue. Do not use your phone near the suspected leak! Go outside and make the call, then wait outside at a safe distance until the leak is fixed. 

Call Santa Fe Air to learn more about gas leaks

One of the best ways to prevent gas leaks is to properly maintain your gas appliances through routine maintenance and repair. If you’re having trouble pinpointing an odor in your home or simply want more advice, our experts at Santa Fe Air are happy to help. We pride ourselves on offering the best furnace services to residents in the Kansas City metro areas.