The smell of natural gas in your home can be very alarming. Most people understand that natural gas leaks are very hazardous.
If you aren’t able to find the source of the smell, it’s easy to become very anxious.
However, there may be instances where you might smell gas but aren’t able to find a leak. This may occur for several reasons.
If there isn’t a leak, the most common cause of natural gas smells in the home is hydrogen sulfide or sulfur.
Bacteria within drains and sewers can start to produce hydrogen sulfide, leading to the odor.
If water heaters aren’t used frequently and drained, they can begin to emit the same smells too. Sulfur odors aren’t dangerous, but they should still be attended to.
Natural gas smells might originate from a leak, but if you do notice any similar odors, they shouldn’t be ignored. Even if the smell isn’t natural gas, the smell is indicative of a different issue.
The reason for the odor might be as hazardous as natural gas, putting you and your home in danger.
We’ll cover some reasons why you might smell natural gas odors in your home, even if a leak isn’t present.
We’ll also detail the steps to take if this scenario occurs, to ensure that you are kept safe from harm.
What Can Create Natural Gas Odors In The Home?
Natural gas has a strong and noticeable smell, which is often likened to rotten eggs.
Despite this, a lot of people don’t know that natural gas itself is odorless. Gas utility businesses add the smell to the gas so it’s easier to identify leaks.
This is done through the chemical mercaptan. This is a harmless substance known as an odorizer, used to add a characteristic smell to odorless gasses.
However, this rotten egg odor can be the result of other things that enter your home.
Sewer gas that has begun to travel back up through the sewer can result in the distinct, rotten egg smell within your home.
Bacteria inside the sewer is linked with decaying organic substances and a poor oxygen environment can cause the smell.
In most cases, the route from the sewer that sends the gas into your household is through the sewer pipes.
Bathrooms that aren’t used regularly may have dried out P-traps. These are the part of your drains that is shaped like the circular area in the letter P.
They trap a little water inside this dip, acting as a seal that stops sewer odors from entering back into your home.
If the P trap is dried out, it won’t be able to create that water seal, so these sewer odors are free to pass through into your bathroom.
This can also occur as a result of blocked sewer pipes.
Is Sewer Gas Unsafe?
Other than the unpleasant smell, many dangers are related to sewer gas in the home.
These include: Hydrogen sulfide is the substance that creates the rotten egg smell. This can be dangerous in larger amounts, leading to toxicity and serious physical issues.
Sewer gasses can remove oxygen in your environment, creating a possible asphyxiation risk.
Sewer gasses usually weigh more than air, building up in the lower areas of your household. Basements can be very dangerous if the room starts to fill with hydrogen sulfide.
Hydrogen sulfide is usually accompanied by methane from sewer gas. In certain amounts, methane can cause an explosion or fire hazard.
If you are certain that there aren’t any gas leaks, but notice a rotten egg smell in your household, it may be due to a sewer gas issue.
Have a licensed plumber examine your sewer system and drains regularly.
This will make sure that your system isn’t damaged, there aren’t any blockages in the vents, or any other related issues.
Look At Your Water Heater
Water heaters that aren’t used frequently may fall victim to bacteria.
These microbes can create hydrogen sulfide, leading to the noticeable rotten egg odor anytime you use hot water.
Water heaters that have a thermostat at a lower setting, or are only used occasionally, can lead to this issue.
The rotten egg smell can happen in larger households with few residents, as some of the bathrooms aren’t used as often. Bacteria can develop inside these water heaters, leading to the rotten egg smell.
One way of solving this issue is to run hot water in the rarely used fixtures in your home. Doing so every so often will flush out the water heater tank.
You can also set the thermostat to a higher temperature, as the hot water will prevent bacteria from growing.
Magnesium anodes can also add a natural gas smell to your water.
This is easily fixed, as you can ask your plumber to replace this element with an aluminum anode instead.
Is Water Safe To Use If It Smells Like Rotten Eggs?
In most cases, bacteria in a water heater that leaves unpleasant smells behind isn’t bad for your health. Even so, it’s best not to cook or drink with this water.
The smell and the taste that the water leaves behind will affect your food and beverages, making them impossible to enjoy.
Rural households that get their water from a well may notice rotten egg smells in their supply. In some cases, bacteria can start to develop in the well, leading to these smells.
If the water from your local well begins to take on these smells, immediate action must be taken.
Contaminated wells can be full of different types of bacteria which can be hazardous to your health.
Have a certified and experienced well technician examine and test your water well.
If the well is tainted, it needs to be flushed and emptied fully, then thoroughly cleaned. This may entail disinfection, casing the well, then pumping it.
The procedure should only be done by skilled technicians.
Once the cleaning and disinfection process is complete, the water should be tested by an authorized laboratory to ensure it’s safe for drinking.
Check Your Septic System
Rural locations that use domestic water wells tend to use a drain field septic system. If this is faulty or impaired, it may start leaking sewage in or around the water well.
This is a very dangerous scenario that needs immediate attention. Have a septic system technician or a licensed plumber examine the system.
If you believe that the septic system is leaking sewage into the water well, do not, under any circumstances, use the water.
It Could Be Natural Gas
If you do smell gas, you need to be 100% sure that there is no gas leak inside your home. Even if there isn’t a leak in your home, the gas might be entering from other sources.
Natural gas can travel far, even occasionally along some meandering courses.
Simply removing the leaks in your home won’t mean that there aren’t leaks within the environment.
The gas might be entering from a leak outside your home or a nearby apartment.
Report any suspected leaks to the fire department and follow the guidelines that they give you.
Steps To Follow If Your House Smells Like Gas With No Leaks
If you have examined your house and are certain that there aren’t any leaks, follow these steps.
1. Contact An Expert
Contact an expert service to explore the potential sources of gas smells within your home. These businesses are experienced in the field and will be aware of any possible causes of the odor.
If they find the root of the smell and carry out the essential repairs, you can safely stay at home.
Remember, this is still a worthwhile option even if they don’t find anything dangerous. Calling these services can ensure that you and your loved ones are safe from harm.
2. Open Your Windows
This is the simplest step you can follow after you notice the smell. You should also turn on any floor or ceiling fans to filter the gas out of your home.
Good ventilation systems in your home can help avoid carbon dioxide accumulating in hazardous amounts.
Make sure that you leave the windows open and fans on until the origin of the smell is seen to.
3. Switch Off Your Gas Supply
Make sure that you are aware of where your home’s supply line switch is located.
Switch this off even if you are certain that there isn’t a leak. This is a preventative step that will prevent the gas from settling in your home.
This will also help to locate any leaks or impaired appliances that may emit the gas odor.
4. Never Switch Your Burners On
Nev4.er turn on your burners, use lighters, or spark flames if you notice a gas smell, even if it is a light odor.
Some people may try to locate small leaks by lighting a flame, but this can endanger your life.
It can lead to serious damage to your well-being and other houses in the vicinity.
5. Switch Off Electric Equipment
If you notice the smell of gas, you should turn off your electric appliances immediately. Make sure that these are off, as they can set off sparks if they are switched on.
Find where the leaks are located, then let the gasses exit your home through a suitable evacuation and ventilation arrangement.
If you can’t find any leaks, call an experienced professional, as noted in the first step.
Once the professional states that your home is safe, or finds and attends to the leak, you can then turn on your appliances.
If you aren’t certain, double-check with the technician.
The Bottom Line
Now you know what to do if you notice any gas smells coming from your home.
If you can’t find a leak, the odor may be caused by other reasons, like sewer gas, domestic wells, your water heater or perhaps cooking with smelly foods like garlic.
However, you should always be certain that there are no leaks before you suspect these causes. If you can’t find the odor’s source, call an expert service.
They will be versed in all possible gas smell sources, so they will be able to rule out any potential triggers.
Even if they don’t find anything, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Calling these technicians or the emergency services could help avoid future damage and may even save lives.
If you do notice that distinct rotten egg odor, follow our preventative steps above to keep you and your loved ones safe from danger.