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21 Aug 2018
Owe Carter Owe Carter

What to do if you smell gas in your home


Man holding a magnifying glass up to his nose

There are ways to keep your home safe from gas leaks - and it doesn’t involve cooking over an open fire.

As household boilers, gas fires and most central heating systems use gas, leaks do sometimes occur.

And it's horror stories of gas explosions that can leave some people confused and a little worried. So, what do you do if you think you smell gas in your home? These tips should help you out.

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Use your nose 

Your nose is your personal gas alarm. Domestic gas doesn’t actually have a default smell - energy providers add it to the supply so you're able to sniff out a gas leak straight away. So always be aware of the smell of gas.

The chemical added to gas - mercaptan - makes it smell like rotten eggs or smelly socks.

Got a blocked nose? Lost your sense of smell? You’ll still be able to tell if there’s a gas leak in your home.

What are the symptoms of a gas leak?

Your body may react to the presence of leaked gas. Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Headaches

  • Irregular breathing

If you find that your symptoms get worse when you're in the house and tend to ease off when you leave, you may have a gas leak.

If you have these symptoms but can't smell any gas, there may be a carbon monoxide leak

To see the full list of symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning, read this guide from the NHS.

READ MORE: How to make your home more energy efficient

Don’t be a bright spark 

Don’t operate any electrical switches or create any flames - this includes flicking on a light switch.  Make sure you’ve turned off the cooker too, and don’t even think about lighting a cigarette indoors!

Ventilate the property 

Open windows and external doors immediately to allow the gas to disperse as quickly as possible.

A yellow gas pipe with the valve turned at 90 degrees.

Turn gas off at the meter if safe to do so

Not sure where the meter is? Then make it a priority to find out. Call your gas supplier if you need help locating it.

If you live above a commercial property, speak with the owner to find out where the meter is kept, and work out a plan for what to do if you smell gas when the business is closed.

To switch off the gas, you turn the lever so it's at 90 degrees to the gas pipe, closing the valve.

READ MORE: How to read your gas and electricity meter


Evacuate everyone from the building immediately.

Call for professional help 

Don’t attempt to sort the problem out yourself - call for suitably qualified help immediately.

Phone the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

Tell the neighbours 

Let your neighbours know if you think they may be affected by the leak – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Wait for the all clear 

If you’ve evacuated the premises, don’t let anyone other than the engineer back into the property. Wait to be given the all clear before going back inside.

If you have any of the symptoms described above, of if you feel unwell, it's best to visit your GP or hospital. Let them know about the gas leak so they can treat you accordingly.

How do you prevent gas leaks?

Make sure that your boiler, cooker etc is installed and serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you don't already have one, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Unlike domestic gas, you won't be able to smell carbon monoxide, and it can be fatal.

How does a gas leak impact my home insurance policy?

You'd need to check the specific details of your home insurance policy, but many insurers cover damage to the building in the event of a gas explosion. The same could apply to your possessions if you have contents cover as well.

A standard insurance policy is unlikely to cover the cost of repair to wherever the leak is eg a faulty boiler. For this, you'd need to take out home emergency cover.

READ MORE: Home emergency cover explained



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