What Does a Propane Gas Leak Smell Like?
Written on: April 24, 2023
How to Recognize a Gas Leak and More Propane Safety Tips
What’s that smell? If you think you detect the odor of rotten eggs, skunk, or dead animal, you may have a gas leak. Propane is naturally odorless, so to make it easy to detect leaking gas, propane and natural gas distributors use an additive called mercaptan to give it a distinctive smell.
Mercaptan is a natural gas that is produced by decaying plants, animals, and humans (fun fact—it’s one of the compounds responsible for bad breath!).
One reason it’s used in propane and natural gas is that the human nose can detect it in extremely small quantities.
Recognizing a Gas Leak
Make sure everyone in your home can recognize the odor. If you smell gas:
- Leave the area immediately.
- Avoid all flames or sparks—including lights, appliances, phones, or cell phones—which could ignite the gas and trigger an explosion.
- If you can, shut off the gas at the main valve on your tank—turn the valve clockwise.
- Call us, or 911 from a safe area.
- Stay away until help arrives.
Propane Safety Dos and Don’ts
Here are some common safety tips you should recognize if you use propane in your household:
- Don’t store cleaning fluids and flammable substances near your propane tanks.
- Do clean furnace filters regularly.
- Don’t let your tanks hit empty. The loss of pressure can lead to a variety of problems and will require pressure tests before refilling.
- Do set up automatic delivery to avoid running out of gas.
- Don’t attempt to relight a pilot light if you smell gas. If you do relight a pilot light yourself, follow manufacturer’s instructions exactly.
- Do call us if a pilot light goes out frequently.
- Do let us know if flames are yellow or you notice a significant amount of soot. Gas flames should be mainly blue when burning correctly.
- Do not turn the gas back on yourself if you have turned off the gas because of a suspected leak.
Safety First and Always
While it’s a highly flammable gas under certain conditions, leaks are rare and propane is a safe and clean-burning way to heat your home and water and run many of your appliances. As with any fuel, there are certain steps to take to ensure you and your home are safe and comfortable. Knowing what to do if you smell gas can help ensure the situation is resolved safely and quickly.
If you have any questions about this information or any other propane safety issues, contact us. We’re always here to help.