Sniff out natural gas leaks

Use your nose
In its natural state, natural gas is colorless and odorless, so gas companies add a distinctive odor to make even the smallest leaks easier to detect.
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Natural gas is flammable - if there's a flame or even a spark in the area of a leak, it could cause an explosion. Fortunately, natural gas leaks are very rare. And explosions are even more uncommon - the mixture of natural gas and oxygen in the air must be at a precise proportion for a spark to set it off.

A gas leak in an enclosed space also poses another hazard - it can displace the oxygen in the room, making it difficult and eventually impossible to breathe.

Natural gas meterUse your eyes, ears and nose

Although leaks from natural gas lines are rare, it’s important to know the warning signs. Use your eyes, ears and nose, and call your gas company or 911 if you:

  • Smell an odor like rotten eggs. In its natural state, natural gas is colorless and odorless, so gas companies add a distinctive odor to make even the smallest leaks easier to detect.
  • Hear an unusual hissing, whistling or roaring sound.
  • See unexplained dead or dying grass or other vegetation near a pipeline, dirt or debris blowing into the air, or water bubbling in a puddle, river, pond or creek.

If you notice any of the warning signs

  • Leave the area immediately - do NOT stop to open windows.
  • Don’t touch anything that might create a spark, such as a light switch, telephone, cell phone or a garage door opener. If possible, stay away from carpeted areas to avoid sparks of static electricity.
  • Call your natural gas provider from a remote location, and they’ll send someone to investigate the situation.
  • If natural gas is leaking outside or in your home, call 911.

How can you prevent a gas leak?

  • Keep your gas appliances in good working order.
  • Don't hang things on gas piping.
  • Keep children away from gas meters and other utility equipment.
  • Keep your gas meter visible and use care when mowing or building near it.

If anyone in your home has a medical condition that makes it difficult for them to identify the rotten egg odor, you can invest in a natural gas detector. These devices can be easy-to-install units or be part of a whole-house security or alarm system. Your plumbing professional or home security provider can offer recommendations for your family.      

Are you an Alliant Energy customer?

If you’re an Alliant Energy gas customer, be sure to have emergency contact information handy in the event of a gas leak or carbon monoxide alarm.      

Learn more about natural gas leaks:


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