How to spot an internal gas leak, according to experts

Natural gas and home appliance safety

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s hard to believe many of us are constantly surrounded by a gas that can cause the type of devastation that destroyed a Ballantyne home and killed a woman inside.

Officials say an internal gas leak caused the home to explode. Natural gas is colorless, odorless and non-toxic, but it is flammable.

So how can you spot a gas leak in your home?

If you think you have a gas leak inside your home, experts say the main things you need to remember are smell and sound. The biggest misconception is you can smell natural gas inside your home when there’s a leak, but that’s not the case.

Experts we talked to say gas providers purposely add a sulfur compound to natural gas so that when you get a whiff of that “rotten egg smell” then you can know, you might have a gas leak.

“When you smell natural gas its probably coming from one of your natural gas appliances such as a dryer, a hot water heater, maybe a cooktop oven or stove," a nationally-certified gas leak repair expert said. "There’s a small gas line that goes to those appliances and if its ends up leaking then the slightest spark could cause an explosion.”

There also might be a hissing sound near a gas appliance.

“Do not turn on anything or turn anything off, don’t flip and switches, it may cause a spark,” the expert said.

Experts say that’s where the danger comes in. Remember, natural gas is extremely flammable, so even static can create a spark.

“The slightest spark within limits of a natural gas leak will cause an explosion or will cause what’s called a flash fire,” the expert said.

A spark like that paired with an internal gas leak, experts say could easily have been the cause of the type of explosion you saw recently in Ballantyne killing one woman and injuring her husband.

“When you smell that you need to get away from the area, out of the building and call 911,” the expert said.

That expert also says a lot of gas leaks happen because people themselves try to tamper with or fix their own gas lines. The expert says that puts yourself in an extremely dangerous, and possibly deadly situation.

So, when it comes to gas and preventing leaks, you need to make sure you have a licensed professional handle those repairs and installing any appliances.

A certified home inspector spoke more about precautions to take with Jamie Boll on On Your Side Tonight Wednesday night.

Certified home inspector speaks after deadly explosion in Ballantyne

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