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Gas Safety

Smell gas, act fast. Gas leaks can result in fires and explosions. It's important that you and your family know how to recognize a gas leak and what to do if you suspect a leak.
A person shows alarm after noticing the smell of natural gas.

1. Smell an odor similar to rotten eggs.
See a white cloud, bubbles in water, blowing dust, dying plants.
Hear a roar, hiss, or whistle.

A person running away from an area.

2. Leave immediately and take others with you. If the leak is outside, move to a safe spot far away.

A figure is making a call on their cell phone.

3. Call 911 or 1-800-752-6633. National Grid customers call 1-718-643-4050.

Smell Gas, Act Fast

Even if the odor isn’t very strong, you should still leave the area immediately, taking others, and then call. Don’t assume someone else has already called. You don’t have to give your name.

Don’t light a match, smoke, flip a switch, ring a doorbell, or touch appliances or electronics, including your phone. Doing so can produce sparks that might cause the gas to explode.

What does natural gas smell like?

Since natural gas doesn’t actually smell like anything, a chemical called mercaptan is added to help you detect a leak. Mercaptan has a very distinct and unpleasant odor that many people compare to the smell of rotten eggs.

If you suspect a gas leak but can’t smell it, you should still find a phone away from the area and call 911 or 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

Odor Fade

Certain conditions or circumstances may diminish the smell of mercaptan. If you have a weak sense of smell, odor fatigue from smelling the same aromas for an extended period, or if multiple competing odors are in the area, you may not be able to detect the odorant.

Physical or chemical processes may cause the odorant to fade to the point where it’s no longer detectable, including:

  • Adsorption, absorption, and oxidation.
  • Newly-installed metal, or sometimes plastic, piping (utility or customer).
  • Size, length, and configuration of the piping.
  • The presence of rust, moisture, or other substances in the pipe.
  • Gas composition, pressure, and/or flow. Intermittent, little, or no flow over an extended period of time may result in the loss of odorant until gas flow increases or becomes more frequent.
  • If a natural gas leak occurs underground, the surrounding soil may cause odor fade such that the odorant may not be detected by smell in the atmosphere.

If you suspect a gas leak but can’t smell it, you should still find a phone away from the area and call 911 or 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

Gas Leak Detectors

A slow gas leak may not produce enough scent to be detectable, and even large leaks may not be detected by people with a weak sense of smell. A gas leak detector can give you peace of mind and help keep you and your neighbors safe by sounding an alarm before natural gas reaches the explosive range.

Gas leak detectors are available at many hardware and home improvement stores, as well as online. These combustible gas detectors come battery operated or require power from an electrical outlet. The best installation is within 12 inches of the ceiling in the same room with the natural gas pipe or appliance, such as a stove or gas-powered fireplace. For your protection, it’s important to follow your device’s installation instructions carefully.

Good to know: A carbon monoxide detector is not the same as a gas leak detector. While there are combination devices on the market, most carbon monoxide detectors do not detect combustible gasses. Be sure to check the label.

What to look for in a gas leak detector:

  • Underwriter Laboratory Standard 1484 for Residential Gas Detectors certification
  • A detection level ≤ 10% of the lower explosive level for natural gas
  • Battery-powered with a lifetime battery included

Safety Starts in Your Home

  • Make sure all burners are turned completely off when you’re done cooking and before you leave the house.
  • Your pilot light should always be on. Blowing out the pilot light doesn’t stop gas from escaping and can be dangerous.
  • Call a professional if you need to move or replace a gas-fired appliance, like a stove or clothes dryer.
  • Regularly check the flexible connector that brings gas to an appliance. Over time, it may become brittle and develop small cracks. If the connector is old and dried out, replace it.
  • Don’t step, sit, lean, or place any objects on flexible connectors attached to appliances.
  • Prevent gases from entering your home through sewer lines by making sure that indoor sewer-line caps are in good shape and attached tightly.
  • Keep cleaning products, gasoline, paints, and other flammable materials away from gas appliances.
  • Keep kids away from gas appliances.
  • Have your heating and ventilation system serviced regularly, and don’t let snow, ice, leaves, or other debris block their vents and exhaust ducts.
  • Keep a clear path to and around your gas meter. Use a brush, not a shovel, to remove snow and ice from around your gas meter and the pipes leading to it.
  • Be aware of gas service pipe locations in your apartment or home prior to drilling and installing items such as picture frames or shelving.

Doing Yard Work? Call 811 Before You Dig

Putting in a new driveway, sidewalk, or fence? Planting a tree? Installing an inground pool? Digging for a new foundation or waterproofing an existing foundation? Installing or repairing drainage pipes beneath your property? Know what’s underground before you start a project.

Whether you’re doing the work yourself or using a landscaper or contractor, whoever is digging must call 811 two to 10 days before excavating public or private property.

811 is free and calls are answered 24/7.

You’ll get your underground utilities marked for free and avoid fines. You’ll also keep your home, family, and neighborhood safe by preventing an emergency or property damage.

Get more important safety information about working around gas piping.