How to Identify a Gas Leak

Subtle and potentially lethal, gas leaks can be tough to identify without training and proper knowledge. Based on your physical symptoms and environmental signs, you can quickly and effectively find a leak in a gas line, then alert a qualified plumber or gas line technician. If you’re looking for quick tips on how to quickly identify a gas leak without the use of any detectors, keep reading.How to Identify a Gas Leak

Distinct odor 

Smell is the most common method for determining whether or not there’s a gas leak in your apartment and then finding the source. In the past, gas leaks were notoriously dangerous because of their lack of odor, but scientific innovations have changed that. Today, when a gas line is leaking, you’ll notice the smell of methyl mercaptan, a flammable gas that smells like rotten eggs or cabbage. It all makes gas stoves a lot safer to use.

In industrial settings, methyl mercaptan is flammable and causes nausea, headaches, eye irritation, and, at high doses, respiratory stress. It can be absorbed minimally by skin or eye exposure and rapidly through inhalation. At significant doses, methyl mercaptan inhalation can lead to dire health complications and can be fatal.


Listen for any noise or high-pitched hissing that would come from high-pressure air through a hole in a rubber line or a thin gap between two metal pipes. You should also keep a piece of paper on hand. You can look for the leak source by searching with the paper, which will flutter against the pressure of moving gas. When the gas hits the piece of paper, it should bend. Any unexplained, fine movement or blowing of dust or plant leaves indoors could signify a leak.

Dying or failing plants

Look carefully at the bodies of your plants and see if you notice any patterns in any of your dying plants. If some of your plants are more likely to thrive in some areas of your apartment than others, that observation could direct you to where the gas is leaking, as natural gas is toxic to plants. If your plants begin to die or fail to grow for no other possible reason, it could be the sign of a possible gas leak. 

Strange behavior from animals

If the concentration of poisonous gas in the air grows too high, you may begin to notice odd and alarming behavior coming from your pets. If your pets begin to show symptoms of fatigue or loss of appetite, or if they vomit, it may be a sign of a gas leak in your apartment. 

Watch closely for any changes in your pets’ behavior and get help as soon as possible. A gas leak is unlikely to kill an animal as long as you can remove your pets from the vicinity of the leak and go somewhere with clean air. 

A disclaimer for this gas leak detection tip: Animal behavior should be examined incidentally – as in, don’t bring animals to suspected gas leak sites to check for leaks. It is unethical, illegal, and cruel to bring animals into an apartment with the specific intent of checking for a gas leak.

Physical symptoms 

Exposure to gas can manifest as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. If you experience fatigue, wooziness, difficulty breathing, irritation of the eyes, headaches, or general malaise, the reason could be a gas leak. Blistering of the skin or skin irritation can be signs of liquid gas exposure in the extreme.

What are your experiences keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from gas leaks in the home? Sound off in the comments!

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