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What Should I Do If I Smell Natural Gas?

A gas meter located outside of a houseMany people heat their homes with natural or liquid propane (LP) gas and may have appliances that operate on gas, as well. Gas leaks, whether large or small, should be repaired. If they are not repaired properly, leaks can lead to health concerns and increase the risk of fires associated with larger leaks.

If you smell gas near the water heater, it could mean you have a leak. In an emergency, gas can be turned off at the main service shutoff valve, normally located near your gas meter, by using a 12-to-15-inch adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench. The second location is at the water heater itself, which only turns off the gas supply to the water heater.

Natural gas can give off a garlic-like smell that is best described as smelling like a rotten egg or sulfur. Gas leaks in the home are usually the result of poorly fitted hoses, broken or cracked seals, or faulty appliances.

What should you do if you smell natural gas? If you think you have a gas leak, here are a few things you can do:

  • Know where your main gas service shutoff valve is located. If you smell gas in your home, turn the gas off via the valve at the meter. If you are unable to do this, call Vectren or your local gas supplier to have them come out and turn it off. You may need a wrench or pliers to do this.
  • Call your preferred plumbing contractor to locate and repair the leak. Depending on the severity of the leak, a permit and inspection may be required by the city or township you reside in before the gas can be turned back on.
  • Know how to shut off the gas to your appliances. Gas leaks can arise over time on older piping at the joints between the pipe and fittings as the sealant ages. If you have gas appliances – furnace, water heater, or stove – a gas leak could occur in the appliance itself. Most gas appliances have a gas shutoff valve that allows you to turn off the gas to that appliance only. Know which of your appliances use natural gas, and learn where the appliance’s gas shutoff valves are located, as well as how to turn them off.
  • Do not shut off the gas unless you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a gas leak. If you shut off the gas, there may be a considerable delay before a service provider can turn it back on.
  • Once the gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on yourself. Leave it off until service can be restored safely by a qualified professional. A qualified professional should perform a safety inspection before the gas service is restored and the appliance pilots are lit.
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