Natural Gas Detector: Considerations and Common Questions | Cove Security

The Essentials of Buying a Natural Gas Detector

One of the most tragic and destructive house emergencies is a gas fire. Each year millions of dollars in property damage and a number of lives are lost in fires or by affixation due to a failure to have a natural gas leakage detector or a failure to hear the alarm sounds from the gas leak detector. This article is focused on answering important questions regarding natural gas detectors and how to keep yourself safe from the dangers of a natural gas or carbon monoxide leak.

Is there a detector for natural gas?

Yes! There are many different types of natural gas detectors on the market to increase your home's safety. Many natural gas leak detectors also include features such as carbon monoxide detection radon detection, and other features to detect other toxic or combustible gases. A natural gas leak detector can be battery powered or simply plug into the wall. There are also monitored carbon monoxide sensors which provide a monitoring service to notify you, emergency services, and or the gas company in the event of a natural gas leak. It is important to consider which features are most important to you when purchasing a gas leak detector.

Is a natural gas detector the same as a carbon monoxide detector?

No, they are not the same. A gas monitor may include devices such as a carbon monoxide detector, a natural gas and propane detector, and a smoke detector but the way that the each device works is quite different. A carbon monoxide detector will detect carbon monoxide which is a dense carbon based gas that is toxic to humans. A Carbon Monoxide sensor can have various levels of sensitivity depending on it's calibration and manufacturing. and can be combined with other gas leak detectors or smoke detectors. They will not detect all types of carbon gases, such as carbon dioxide, or propane, or other forms of combustible gases. Carbon Monoxide is especially dangerous to people in that it is odorless and it not can not be detected by human senses making it all the more important to have a Carbon Monoxide Sensor. Natural gas detectors on the other hand are not sensitive to any gases besides natural carbon based gases. Natural gases are not toxic to humans in that they do not poison the air. However because they are so flammable and because they can replace the oxygen in the air it is also important to have a natural gas detector.

What is the best natural gas detector?

The answer is that.... it depends. It depends on what features are most important to your home and safety. Do you want your natural gas leak detector to be battery powered, do you want your detector to have a loud alarm to alert you or the neighbors, do you want your gas leak monitor to have a monitoring system to alert you when you are away from home? All of these features are important to keep in mind in the event that your furnace, water heaters, gas stove, or other gas appliances begins to leak natural gas. At Cove Security we recommend that you use a battery powered leak detection system that can detect combustible natural gases and alert you when the concentration of natural gas reaches a dangerous threshold. At Cove we provide a unique monitoring system for carbon monoxide that can alert you either through your battery powered alarm panel or even through Cove instatext which can send emergency notifications to you or your other emergency contact via text message.

How do you detect a natural gas leak?

The safest way is through a highly sensitive natural gas detector. We would recommend having a gas leak sensor that can detect the concentration of natural gas beneath 5 ppm (parts per million) and that will sound the alarm at a higher concentration. However, if you do not have a combustible gas leak detector aka natural gas leak detector there are other ways to detect if one of your gas appliances has a leak. The answer... Your nose. Natural gas has distinct aromas mixed with it to give it a distinct smell of rotten eggs.

At what concentration can you smell natural gas?

Natural gas is actually odorless however, for safety measures gas companies have made it easier to detect a leak by mixing in a distinct odorant that smells like rotten eggs. The odorant that they mix in allows you to smell the natural gas aroud a concentration of 1% long before the risk of an explosion. However, If you smell rotten eggs near a gas line. That is your cue to take action.

What do I do if I smell gas in my house?

Stop! Don't turn on any electrical appliances or unplug any electrical appliances and be careful of battery powered or other electrical appliances that could cause a spark and ignite the flammable gas.

  1. Do Not make phone calls inside the area that smells like gas or turn on your water heater, this can cause an explosion.
  2. Make sure that the area is well ventilated and that all the doors are opened so that the gas can escape. Also make sure that any other device that could cause a spark or flame is not about to turn on or get unplugged
  3. Ensure that the pilot light is off.
  4. If you know where the gas shut off valve is we would also reccomend that you turn off the gas to your apartment or house
  5. Once all of these tasks are completed you should leave the area and call the gas company or certified inspector to come and fix the leak. Do not try and fix it on your own After reading these steps you may feel that we are being overly cautious or pessimistic when it comes to a small gas leak. However, when we understand the risks involved it never hurts to be too careful. This of course brings us to the next question.

Can natural gas kill you?

Yes! Allow us to explain. Natural gases such as propane natural gas and other volatile combustible gases are not classified among toxic gases in that you can breathe them in at low concentration of gas and experience minimal side effects. The side effects of a natural gas leak can include trouble sleeping, headaches, tiredness and if there is a high enough concentration of gas, it can cause death. As the natural gas fills confined spaces or areas with poor ventilation and pushes out the breathable oxygen causing death from a lack of oxygen. The other way that natural gases can cause death is even more dramatic. Let's say that the pilot light on you gas powered water heaters goes out and that the methane in your gas pipe continues to flow into the confined space of your apartment. As the level of Methane or other flammable gas increases the risk of an explosion increases drastically. If the gas alarm doesn't sound in time, the combustible gas can be sparked by turning an electrical switch or even by unplugging something. If a spark hits the methane a fireball can engulf the entire inside of your apartment burning up all your belongings and potentially killing everyone inside. So in answer to the question of whether or not a leak can kill you the answer is yes. Can leaving the gas stove on kill you? The answer is yes. Which makes it all the more important to have a gas detection device to help ensure the safety of your house and loved ones who live there.

Can you hear a natural gas leak?

It depends on the rate of the gas leak. But often times if you are extremely close to the gas leak then yes. If you have a gas stove or barbecue you are no probably familiar with hearing the hising sound of propane or other natural gases when you turn the stove or barbecue on. The sound of natural gas leakage is often similar to the sound of air being squeezed out of a small container. If you can hear a gas leak you should be careful to turn of the gas to the line and follow the same protocol as if you had detected the leak through other means.

Which is more important a Carbon Monoxide Detector or a Natural Gas detector?

First and foremost it is a good idea to have both. However if we look at the data we know that “Natural gas accounts for an average of only 17 fatalities per year” where as deaths from carbon monoxide between the years 2010-2015 was 2244.[1] This is not to minimize the necessity of Natural Gas Detector but rather to highlight the importance of a Carbon Monoxide Sensor.

Can you smell Carbon Monoxide and is it toxic?

No you can not smell Carbon Monoxide and Yes it is extremely toxic in that it stays in your lungs and can eventually be absorbed into your body and cause severe tissue damage and even death. Symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning can include

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Sight loss
  • And loss of consciousness Carbon Monoxide is especially dangerous because it is impossible to detect through regular human senses.

What is the best Carbon Monoxide Detector?

A monitored Carbon Monoxide Detector is much safer than an un-monitored one. An un-monitored Carbon Monoxide Detector is relying on your ability to hear the sound of an alarm whereas a monitored Carbon Monoxide Detector can alert you, emergency services, or emergency contacts if it detect Carbon Monoxide while you are asleep, away on vacation, or if your family is home with a babysitter. Another feature to consider would be to have battery powered Carbon Monoxide Detectors so that in the event of a power outage you can still be protected. At Cove we are devoted to excellence and vigilance in protecting you and your loved one through professional monitoring of your smart Carbon Monoxide Detectors, smart smoke alarms, and any other home security needs.

Sources

  1. https://pgworks.com/uploads/pdfs/NaturalGasSafetyData.pdf
  2. https://safer-america.com/dangerous-natural-gas/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6608a9.htm

Looking for the perfect
system for your home?