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How to Tell If Your Propane Gas Tank Is Leaking

Propane gas is used for a wide variety of household and commercial needs, including heating your home, cooking food and powering equipment, such as welding tools. Propane companies have equipment that is designed to check for leaks and the severity of a leak. But as a consumer, you should also be aware of how to check for and identify potential leaks in your propane tanks. The sooner you are aware of a propane leak, the safer it is for you, your home or your commercial building.


Understanding the Warning Signs of a Propane Leak

One of the first signs of a possible leak in your propane tank is a hissing sound. If you hear a hissing noise near a gas appliance, propane tank or propane-powered equipment, shut the tank off immediately. Other warning signs typically include the presence of a foul odor that you cannot explain; it may smell like garbage, a dead animal or sewage.


Finding Leaks With the Sniff Test

Propane gas is heavier than air, so to use your nose to check for a propane leak you will need to get low to the ground. Simply get down on your hands and knees near the area where you suspect a leak, and sniff close to the floor for the distinct odor of propane (a rotten egg smell). If you do smell propane, evacuate the premises and contact local emergency personnel for further instructions.


Finding Leaks With the Bubble Test

To do the bubble test, mix a few drops of water with dishwashing liquid in a bowl or spray bottle. When using a spray bottle, lightly spray the mixture on the area where you suspect the leak. If the mixture is in a bowl, use a small, dry paint brush to brush the liquid on the area of the possible leak. If you see bubbles, it indicates a leak; the larger the bubbles, the larger the leak.


Using Propane Gas Detectors

Although an odorant is added to propane to alert you of a potential leak, in some situations the smell may not be detected. As an added measure of precaution a leak detector can be used. The detector sounds an alarm at the first sign of a leak. Because of the loud sound the detector alarm makes, propane gas detectors are especially beneficial if your propane tank is in an area where you may not immediately notice a leak.


What to Do in Case of a Leak

In the case that you do notice a propane leak, all flames inside your home should be extinguished immediately. Propane is highly flammable, and even a small flame may result in serious injuries. After extinguishing all flames, everyone should exit the house. If possible, shut off the gas and call the propane company or emergency personnel on your cell phone. Do not return to the building until the problem has been resolved.

Although carbon-monoxide poisoning is typically associated with a natural-gas leak, the incomplete combustion of propane can also generate carbon monoxide. Carbone monoxide (CO) is an odorless gas that appears when certain fuels burn, including propane. A large amount of carbon monoxide can build up if there is a faulty appliance and/or a defective ventilation system.

Common signs of carbon-monoxide poisoning may include nausea, fatigue, headache, dizziness, slurred speech and/or shortness of breath. If you suspect you or anyone in your home may have carbon-monoxide poisoning, it is essential that you exit the house and contact 911 immediately.

Contact Mobile Industrial Welding Supply to learn more information about propane leaks or to schedule the delivery of your propane gas and/or equipment.

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