In the Pittsburgh area, there are a ton of older homes. I’m talking about homes that are in the 60 to over a 100-year-old age range! These homes in many cases were built close to the steel industry plants and mills of many years ago. This was before the big suburbia boom of the ‘50s and early ‘60s. It was common for folks to smell gas and other industrial odors. But it’s now 2018, and the city is becoming cleaner. The air is fresher and we are focusing on bringing fewer pollutants into the air. But with these older homes in Pittsburgh, we also have a lot of older gas lines coming into these homes underground.
As pipes age, they may become cracked or damaged. And sometimes they can be disconnected by things like surrounding tree roots. As a result, the odorized natural gas that flows through them will begin seeping to the top of the ground. You may notice a strange or smelly odor in your yard, especially a rotten egg-like odor. This may turn the grass in certain areas of your yard brown. A leaking gas line underground can cause the grass and vegetation above to turn brown and die. Dry spots in moist areas or dead plants surrounded by live, green plants is a classic indication that it could be time to replace the gas line coming into your home. So what should you do when you smell gas?
Check Out Your Gas Lines
Spring brings a lot of varied weather here in Pittsburgh, which in turn, causes expansion and contraction inside your home. This could easily lead to cracked or broken metal. Most times a gas line leak inside is usually found at one of the joints in one of these indoor gas lines. If this is the case, the gas line must be disconnected and reconnected with a new joint seal. You would have to apply pipe thread compound or gas-rated Teflon tape to the threads on threaded connections before reassembling them.
Remember, in its natural state, natural gas is both colorless and odorless. However, as most of you already know, for your safety, a chemical ingredient is added which smells like rotten eggs (mentioned above). This unpleasant odor of natural gas is for your protection in the event of a leak.
Be Aware of the Signs of a Pipeline Leak
Natural gas is lighter than air and may pose a hazard, especially if released in confined spaces. It’s important to be able to identify signs of a natural gas leak, especially the rotten egg-like odor that natural gas gives off. Near a gas line, watch for blowing dirt, or bubbling water. Listen for a hissing sound. All of these things could mean there is a natural gas leak nearby.
If you suspect a natural gas leak, check your pilot lights on your water heater and/or gas logs, or a stove burner could not be operating correctly. You may not be able to find the source of the gas leak. In that case, open windows and doors to help disperse the gas.
If the odor is extremely strong, leave immediately – don’t try to find or stop the leak. And please don’t touch anything electrical before you leave or use a telephone, even a cell phone. Don’t smoke, don’t turn appliances or lights on or off. And don’t operate any vehicle or equipment that could create a spark.
Go outside to use your cell phone or to a neighbor’s house and call your local gas company. They will shut off the gas to your home.
We here at Proudfoot always believe that preventative maintenance is much better than waiting until something leaks. If you want your gas system checked out, please contact us today! Give us a call to be on the safe side at 1-412-461-2198. We want you you to feel safe and secure in your home!