What to do if you smell gas in your house

If you smell carbon dioxide in your house, you should deal with this immediately. There are several deaths per year linked to gas leaks, and due to this should be dealt promptly and correctly.

In this guide, we’ll explain some important things you should do in the case of a gas leak, how to detect leaks and what can cause this.

I can smell gas in the house!

If you smell gas in your home, you should act immediately. You should first turn all gas supply off from your gas meter. You should be able to do this from turning the valve, which regulates the flow of gas 90 degrees.

The next best step would be to get some fresh air into your house in order to disperse the gas. Opening all windows and doors will allow air to flow around your home.

In the case of windows not being a good source of fresh air, you should get outside as soon as possible.  

It is also recommended not to use any electrical switches, as the sparks may cause an explosion. This includes lightbulbs and doorbells. You should also do not smoke or light any sort of flame within the property, as this or using any electrical appliances may cause a spark.

You should then contact the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 as soon as possible, as they will be able to offer advice and help as well as next best steps. They will also alert Cadent, who operate and maintain the distribution of natural gas. This number is free to call, and available 24 hours a day.

Letting your neighbours know is also helpful, in the case there may be a gas leak in their property too.

How can I detect a gas leak?

The first indication of a gas leak would be the distinctive smell. In the case of a carbon monoxide leak, you may also suffer some physical symptoms. Dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and nausea are just some examples of possible symptoms. It is advised to leave the property as soon as possible and visit your GP if you feel the symptoms long term.

You can also sense a gas leak from signs in your household appliances, even if you can not smell gas.

It is recommended to watch out for excessive condensation on the windows and a distinctive, musty smell in the air. If your flame is a slow-looking orange or yellow colour rather than a strong blue, this may also indicate a gas leak.

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What is gas?

Natural gas is one of the safest and cleanest fossil fuels used within properties, powering home appliances such as the cooker or heater. However, since it is also tasteless, colourless and odourless, Mercaptan, is added by energy suppliers so gas leaks can be easily identified.

Smoke or carbon monoxide relies on alarms to detect its presence, but a natural gas leak is detected through sounds, sights and smells. Gas leaks can not be toxic, but a leak does increase the potential and risks of fire or explosions, and hence should be dealt promptly and correctly.

What does gas smell like?

Gas has a very distinctive smell, and is added to your supply by energy providers, so you are able to sniff out a gas leak right away.

Mercaptan, which is the chemical added to natural gas, makes it smell like old smelly socks, or rotten eggs. You should also be able to tell if there is a gas leak in your home even if you have a blocked nose!

What should I do if I smell gas outside my house?

If you smell gas outside your property, you should call the National Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999 as soon as possible. It is advised to not smoke or lighting  any flame in the area, and wait for further information or an emergency gas engineer to investigate and attend to the issue.

You may be asked to go outside your property and be told to stay outdoors until given the all clear from a certified gas professional.

How can I prevent a gas leak?

Prevention is better than cure! The best way to deal or avoid a gas leak is preventing it from happening in the first place.

Make sure your boiler and kitchen appliances such as a cooker is installed and serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You should also check them on a regular basis, for signs of wear and tear.

You should generally have your gas appliances checked and monitored yearly. If you are of a pension age, receive government benefits, or are chronically sick or disabled, you may be entitled to be part of the Priority Services Register with your energy supplier. This entitles you to a free annual gas safety check. It is best to contact your energy supplier to see if you do qualify for this.

If you move to a new house, it is suggested to get your appliances tested, don’t just assume these are safe! Remember to only get this checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you are living in a rented property, your landlord would be responsible for ensuring safe installation and the regular maintenance of all gas appliances. You should also make sure your landlord provides you with a gas safety certificate for your property.

In order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, you should install an audible carbon monoxide detector if you do not already have one. This would be in the case of carbon monoxide leaks, and unlike domestic gas can be fatal if not actioned properly.

Carbon monoxide can be incredible dangerous and has the ability to kill you quickly. Unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide has no smell, and you can not see or taste it.

Carbon monoxide detectors look very similar to smoke alarms and can be purchased from any DIY store. You may also be able to get one free from your gas supplier! It is also recommended these are installed in an open space such as a hallway or corridor, and batteries are replaced once a year.

What can happen if a gas leak is not dealt with properly?

Gas leaks can be a very serious situation if not dealt correctly.

Unsafe appliances can lead to explosions, fires, and long-term carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be very dangerous and kills several people a year in their properties. You are unable to see, smell or hear this, and due to this need to be extra careful when looking out for the symptoms of Carbon monoxide exposure.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has similar symptoms to those of a bad flu, or even a hangover! This can include headaches, nausea, short breathlessness, severe dizziness and lack of consciousness.

What is Carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a completely colourless and odourless gas, and is produced when there is not enough oxygen to bond with carbon-producing compounds, and is from the incomplete burning of LPG or natural gas.

This is usually the result of faulty gas appliances such as boilers, heaters and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide is also produced from burning coal, wood, oil or petrol.