Monday, February 20, 2012

Gas Leaks: Two Kinds of Bad

We lead with the most important part of today’s message: In our recent (unscientific) poll of energy professionals and HVAC pros, homes that use natural gas or propane have an average of one gas leak per home.  To back that up, 90% of the homes we've visited this winter had a gas leak present.  90%!   Most of the homes we’ve visited have multiple leaks, including five (!) at a home in Glen Carbon.  This is why we decided to write about it today.  

So, our advice is this: find out if you have gas leaks. 

There are ways you tell if you have gas leaks yourself.  HOWEVER, if you already smell gas in your home or if you suspect you do have a leak, DO NOT take the steps described below.  Call your gas/propane provider (see the local list below).  They have employees ‘on the beat’, ready to test your house for leaks, using the state-of-the-art tools.  They typically respond quickly, at all hours, to make sure you and your family are safe.  (And since nearly half of the homes we've tested this winter have had leaks before the gas meter, they save money by fixing leaks, too.) 
If you don’t think you have leaks, but would like to run your own quick check, the best weapon at your disposal is your nose.  Put it to use in areas where there are many connections, turns, and valves within the network of gas supply lines.  For safety reasons, both natural gas and propane are infused with a chemical compound (mercaptan) that makes them stink a bit like rotten eggs.  Employing your sniffer in these areas will help find the biggest potential problems.  Again, if you smell gas, exit the premises and call your gas supplier first before doing anything else.  

If you hesitate to walk away from a spot that is questionable, one highly effective way to locate leaks is simple to make and simple to use: Soapy water.  Mix dish soap or hand soap one-to-one with water in a spray bottle or squirt bottle.  Find that questionable spot and coat it with a couple of squirts of the soapy water.  Within 60 seconds, you will now see the escaping gas/leaks where you have bubbles foaming at the joints and valves on the pipes.  Reminder: if you smell gas, or see evidence of gas leaks, make sure you call your gas provider first before doing anything else!

Gas leaks are bad for the obvious reasons; exposure to these gases can lead to all kinds of health problems.  All you have to do is Google “gas leaks” to see new stories every day about a tragedy involving combustible gases in the home.  Don’t wait.

The financial incentives aren’t as important as the health of you and your family, but they are real, nonetheless.  Stay safe and save Monergy by stopping gas leaks!

Gas/Propane suppliers in Southern Illinois:

Ameren: 800.755.5000
Amerigas: 877.909.2240
Midwestern Propane: 800.366.4036 
Select Propane: 618.282.LPG1