Natural gas detectors can alert you and your family of odorless and dangerous leaks. They may not be as common on the list of must haves for the home such as a smoke detector or fire extinguisher, but these devices are worth serious consideration and can detect potentially serious situations.
Rock Energy adds a chemical to give the odorless, colorless natural gas a “rotten egg” smell. This smell helps identify everything from a minor, quick-fix problem such as an appliance’s pilot light going out to a serious issue such as a crack in the line caused by a natural disaster.
If you smell gas, keep you and your family safe by exiting the home and calling your local gas company/public utility. As you leave, avoid doing anything that may create a spark including turning on or off lights.
Gas leaks may not be as common as house fires, but leaks can result in a situation as severe as an explosion.
Discovering a natural gas leak is not always guaranteed as sometimes the smell can fade off. Also, a leak is difficult to detect by someone with a lack of or reduced sense of smell.
The most common types of natural gas detectors for residential use are similar in size and cost to carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.
Some manufacturers of carbon monoxide detectors offer combination or 3-in-1 detectors to alert when carbon monoxide or an explosive gas such as natural gas or propane is detected. Many of the home natural gas detectors or explosive gas detectors will require being plugged into an electrical outlet and will have a battery back-up.
There are also gas detectors designed for recreational vehicles to alert in case of a propane leak as well as more expensive hand-held models typically used for trying to track down where the leak is.
When buying a natural gas leak detector, be sure to read the packaging to make sure it fits your needs for residential use.
Install your natural gas detectors in locations close to sources of natural gas. This includes, placing them in any room with windows or a gas appliance such as your kitchen and your basement.
When adding to a room with windows, be sure to position natural gas detectors higher than all doors and windows. Positioning detectors away from windows is best since the fresh air coming in could deter and interfere with accurate readings on the device.
Some manufacturers recommend placing the detectors 6 inches away from the ceiling and 10 feet away from the gas appliance. Review the placement recommendations from the manufacturer of the natural gas detector that you purchase.
Factors To Consider
• Battery life: Make sure the device has an indicator so you know it’s powered. Test your installed detectors every month, and replace the batteries at least once a year. Choosing to replace them on New Year’s Day is always a good annual reminder. Some devices are a sealed unit and must be completely replaced when the battery fails.
• Expiration date: Many units are only designed to function effectively for a certain amount of time only (e.g., five years, seven years, 10 years). Make a point of replacing the device in advance of the expiration date.
• Type of gas: It’s important to understand which gases can be detected by the device and which won’t be. Some detectors can identify more than one gas and some can detect smoke. But don’t make the incorrect assumption that a CO detector will also detect a natural gas leak: Unless it specifically says it will, it won’t.
• UL-Listed: For peace of mind, and better assurance of their functionality and operational safety, your gas leak detectors should reflect the UL Listed mark, to indicate they have been tested by and meet the safety standards of the Underwriter Laboratories, a third-party organization that conducts rigorous independent research and analyzes safety data to develop standards to guide the safe, sustainable commercialization of evolving technologies.
• Sensitivity: Sensors with adjustable and greater sensitivity make it easier to identify the source of the gas leak.
• App-based alerts: Some devices can send data via an app to your smart phone, via WiFi or Bluetooth, to let you monitor the situation even if you’re not there.
• Smart home integration: If you already have other smart home gadgets, you’ll want to check if the gas leak detectors can integrate with your smart home ecosystem and boost your home security.
Your natural gas detector goes off, what next?
If your gas detector ever goes off, don’t panic. Leave the home and contact your public utility.
Should your property be impacted by a natural disaster such as a tornado, earthquake, hurricane or flood, natural gas detectors can alert you and your family to possible issues. In some cases or emergencies, it may be necessary to shut off some utilities.
Much like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, the home natural gas detector needs to be tested regularly and the batteries — even if used as a back-up system to a plug-in detector — need to be changed. And most natural gas detectors for the home have a useful life of about 5 years. Make note of your natural gas detector’s expiration date.
In the event of damage to your home, be sure to report it to your insurance company. A home inventory is an excellent way to help make home insurance and renters insurance coverage decisions and expedite the insurance claims process for damage or loss.