A gas leak is a serious safety hazard that should never be ignored. If the odor is very strong, don't wait -- leave the home immediately and call the gas utility company to investigate. There is a notable danger of explosion and fire if the air is heavily laden with a strong gas smell. Utility companies take this danger very seriously, and will immediately come to your home to check it out at no charge to you.
- Did You Know: Natural gas has no odor at all. The distinctive "rotten egg"... smell we associate with gas is an additive the gas company places in the gas in order to alert you to leaks.
If the smell is faint, you can investigate a bit to see if you can determine where the leak is located, then turn off the gas near the leak before calling the utility company. In the vast majority of cases, the gas leak will be near some appliance in your home. Possibilities include:
- Gas water heater
- Gas stove, oven or range
- Gas furnace or boiler
- Gas fireplace or other gas-fueled heaters
The following pages give an overview of the most likely places you might need to shut off the gas.
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The kitchen stove is the most obvious location for a gas leak. Learn how to shut off gas to your stove in this link. As with most gas appliances, the various connections that link the stove to the main gas line are the most likely place for a leak. Make sure not to start up the stove burners or oven while this gas smell is in the air. Although the chances are remote, it's possible that a heavy gas saturation in the air could be ignited if an open flame ignites.
Sometimes a gas smell can be... caused simply by one of the stovetop burners that have accidentally been turned on without the burner igniting. In this case, simply turn off the control dials and wait for the smell to dissipate. With this case, there's no need to call the utility company to investigate.
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If you are suspect the water heater is the source of a gas leak you can shut off the gas there. This valve will shut off gas to the water heater only. It's especially important to shut off the gas if you suspect a leak here since water heaters fire up automatically and you really want to avoid any open flames whatsoever if you suspect a gas leak.
The gas shut-off valve on a water heater is usually rather close to the heater, located on the gas pipe running to the water heater.
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When in doubt, you can go directly to the gas meter to shut off the gas in an event of a leak. If the appliance you suspect does not have an obvious shut-off valve, your only option is to turn off the main valve. If you suspect a leak near your gas furnace, for example, and find no gas shut-off valve near the furnace, the main shutoff valve may be the only option.
Turning off the main gas shut-off at the meter ensures that there isn't any more gas being fed into the house at all; it should... be your option whenever you can't really tell what appliance is the source of the leak or can't find a local shutoff valve.
The gas meter is usually located in a utility area of the home, such as the garage, in a basement, or along an outside wall.
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If you smell gas near your furnace, look for a valve handle on the gas pipe close to the body of the furnace. Turning it so the handle is positioned at 90° to the line of the pipe turns the gas off.
If the gas shutoff valve is not immediately visible, trace the gas pipe backward from the furnace. The shutoff valve may be located a few feet from the furnace.