This week is Gas Safety Week, so we thought it would be the perfect time to give a full run-down on all things gas safety; from Gas Safety Checks to what you should do if you suspect a gas leak in your home.
What Is Gas Safety?
Gas safety is the process of making sure that gas appliances, such as boilers, hobs, and ovens, are properly installed and maintained. It is incredibly important to make sure your home keeps to gas safety regulations, because improper installation and maintenance of gas appliances risks explosions, fires, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
We know this sounds scary, but the truth is it’s very easy to make sure your home is gas safe. All you need to do is use Gas Safe registered engineers for all installation and maintenance of gas appliances in your home, keep up-to-date gas safety records and have regular Gas Safety Checks.
What Does a Gas Safety Check Include?
Gas Safety Checks should always be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer, and usually take about an hour. During the check, your engineer will test all your gas appliances and make sure they are safe and working properly. These checks involve:
- Making sure the appliance is properly set and adjusted
- Checking the appliance is suitable for the room it is in
- Checking the physical stability of the appliance and that its connection to the gas pipework is secure
- Ensuring there is an adequate air supply and permanent air flow to the appliance
- Making sure that all flues, chimneys, vents, and safety devices are working correctly
You should have a check performed annually, or if you notice any signs of a faulty appliance or gas leak then you should book a Gas Safety Check and Service immediately.
What Are the Signs of a Gas Leak?
The best chance you have of being gas safe at all times is to know the signs of a gas leak so you can detect it quickly. The main signs of a gas leak are:
- Smelling rotten eggs or sulphur
Although gas naturally has no smell, chemicals are added to it to create this smell that’s similar to rotten eggs or sulphur to make leaks easier to detect. The stronger the smell is, the more likely it is that you have a gas leak.
- Air bubbles
Gas leaks can occur in pipes under the ground, so if you notice air bubbles in standing water around your home (such as in puddles or ponds), then this could be a sign of an underground pipe leak.
- Dead or dying plants
The lower oxygen levels caused by gas leaks can quickly cause plants inside or outside your home to wilt or die. If you notice a sudden increase in dying plants at your home, then a gas leak could be the cause (especially if you take proper care of your plants). Yellow patches of grass outside your home is also a sign of this.
- Hissing sounds
A serious or large gas leak usually causes hissing sounds that come from your gas pipes or appliances, even if they are switched off. You should take a minute to listen to your gas appliances regularly.
- Higher gas usage
If you notice an unexplained increase in your usual gas usage, this could indicate a gas leak. While seasonal increases are expected, anything out of the norm should be taken as a sign of a leak. Checking your gas meter regularly is the easiest way to detect this.
- Physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Low levels of exposure to gas can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and/or breathing problems. High levels of exposure can cause severe headaches, fatigue or nausea, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, unconsciousness and/or suffocation. If you believe you are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home and contact a healthcare professional immediately.
By the time the signs of a gas leak appear, the chances are that you’ve had an unsafe gas appliance in your home for some time, so keep an eye out for any of these signs:
- Brown/black marks on/around your appliance
- Weak yellow flames instead of strong blue flames
- The pilot light on your boiler goes out frequently
- Your appliance generally isn’t working properly
- Increased condensation on any windows in the same room as a gas appliance
By identifying a faulty appliance and getting it serviced or replaced, you could avoid having a gas leak altogether.
What to Do if You Suspect a Gas Leak in Your Home
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, the first thing you should do is turn off your gas supply immediately. You should open all the windows and turn off all your electronic devices. Do not smoke or use any open flames, such as a lighter or candles, and don’t flick any electrical switches (this includes light switches, plugs, phones, and doorbells).
You should leave your home immediately and stand a safe distance away (on the other side of the road at least). Use your mobile phone, not a landline, to call National Gas Emergencies on 0800 111 999. Follow the advice given to you over the phone and wait outside the property until a gas engineer has determined it is safe for you to re-enter.
If you feel unwell, visit your GP or the hospital.
If you believe the gas leak is extremely bad, call 999 immediately.
What Are Some Gas Safety Precautions You Should Take?
There are some precautions that you can take to pre-emptively keep yourself and your family as safe as possible from a gas leak. You should:
- Check your gas appliances regularly
Make sure they are working properly and don’t show any of the above signs of being unsafe.
- Check your gas safety documents
When a Gas Safety Check is completed, your engineer should give you up-to-date gas safety documents. If you are renting a property, you should ask your landlord for a copy of these.
- Hire professionals
Always make sure that you hire Gas Safe registered engineers for any installation or maintenance of gas appliances or pipework in your home. Ask for evidence of their registration before they start work to make sure they are qualified.