Propane Safety: What’s That Smell?
Your nose matters because propane manufacturers add a chemical to the gas that smells like rotten eggs (propane is naturally odorless) to make leak detection easier. If that smell appears in your home, don’t panic – but do act quickly, observing the following precautions:
- Avoid touching any equipment that could cause a spark (lights or light switches, appliances, telephones, cell phones, etc.); a spark can cause an explosion.
- Get everyone out of your house immediately and call 911 from a safe distance away
- If it is safe to do so, turn off the propane gas at the main tank; if you don’t know how to do this, contact us– it’s important information for the adults in your home to know.
- Go back in your home only after inspectors say it’s safe to do so.
- Don’t use your propane equipment again until a professional inspects it.
- Remember: if your propane system is turned off for any reason – including a leak – it must be professionally inspected and pressure-tested before it can be turned on again.
Three other things to keep in mind:
- By law, any home in Michigan with a fuel-burning appliance installed or an attached garage must have a carbon monoxide detector on the premises. Fuel-burning appliances include furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, kitchen stoves and grills, wood stoves, gas dryers and fireplaces (wood or gas).
- While the law does not require them, propane leak detectors are also important for your safety. Propane leak detectors add a failsafe in the event that something inhibits the rotten egg smell of the gas (rust inside your propane tank, for example, can reduce the strength of the rotten egg smell…more on this in a future blog). These devices are inexpensive and available at hardware stores.
- Be sure to have your propane equipment serviced regularly; it will keep you safer, lower your monthly bills, and help your technician spot a small issue before it becomes a more serious problem requiring costly propane equipment repairs.