Gas Leaks

I was recently at a house that had a gas leak. There was not a “loud” smell of rotten eggs but rather an intermittent soft smell. You could have missed it. But it was a rotten egg smell and was near the gas meter so the gas company was called.

It turned out to be a leak and the technician got to work quickly to replace the faulty parts of the meter.

The meter was on the side of the house not regularly visited which gives me pause for thought: What if this leak continued for several months without notice and became bigger and bigger?  But then I thought, doesn’t the gas meter get read?

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Natural gas is used thought the United States for residential and commercial properties. Over half of all homes have natural gas as either a heating choice or for cooking.  How often do these homeowners really think about their gas connections?

I doubt it is often and most homeowners in their 50’s and older grew up in a time when the meter was read at the meter. If the gas company employee went to the meter and there was a leak, he or she would notice it and take care of the situation.  It is not done that way anymore in most places. Gas meters are read remotely and rarely do meter readers actually go to the meter. Gas meters can be read from a device as the meter reader drives past each house. This information gets uploaded to the billing department and gets passed off to the consumer for payment.

Unfortunately the device does  not pick up smells. As a homeowner, or even a renter, of a house with natural gas you need to be proactive with your gas meter.

Make a note on your calendar to walk the exterior of your house on a monthly basis. Stop by the meter for several minutes, hang out and try to detect a scent.  Sniff several times and if you have any doubt, call the gas company.

The gas meter is good for about 20 years and, I was told, the gas company keeps tabs on checking and replacing older meters.  The regulator can last about 10 years and a bad regulator can cause a small leak.  But, a leak is a leak and needs attention regardless.

If you suspect a leak, call your gas company immediately. They will send an inspector out quickly.

Be proactive. Make sure you add “check the gas meter” to your home maintenance checklist.

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