Posted on 24 July 2019

Gas Leaks: What to do if you smell gas


Gas leaks can be potentially deadly.

WARNING: If you are reading this while near a gas leak move as far away from it as possible before you continue.

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Gas Leaks: What to do if you smell gas

The smell of a gas leak is distinctive and should automatically raise concern in the area it is located. If you can smell gas and there is no plausible reason why you should, you need to take every precaution to make sure there is no lead on effects or damage. Gas leaks, unlike burst water mains, pose a much higher danger to the surrounding area, much faster as well. If you can smell gas you are probably at risk.

While the smell of gas is the main identifier of a gas leak there are also other signs and symptoms you should be aware of. If, accompanying the smell of gas, you are feeling lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated and have headaches try to remove yourself from the scene of the gas leak. If you are indoors get outside and give yourself some space between the building and yourself. If you are already outdoors walk until you cannot smell the gas at all. The fresh air should clear your symptoms but if not seek medical attention immediately.

The four steps to take when you find a gas leak

Gas leaks are potentially extremely dangerous but there are somethings that can be done before the authorities arrive to help mitigate potential risks. Before undertaking any of these steps move at least 20m away and call 111. After you have done this here are four steps you should take when you find a gas leak:

1. Turn off all electrical appliances and vehicles and extinguish naked flames

Immediate after you discover the gas leak turn off all electrical appliances, machinery or vehicles. Extinguish any cigarettes and naked flames that are not caused by the leaking gas. Do not use any electrical appliances either - including your phone - until you are a safe distance away. Even the slightest ignition or spark can cause catastrophic damage and poses potentially deadly risks to everyone in the vicinity.

2. Turn off the gas at the meter

If you have access to the gas meter and know where it is - often located outside a house or building in a safe place - turn the valve on the service pipe a quarter turn from vertical to horizontal. This will cut the gas supply to the house or business and help to reduce the danger. However, if you have hit a main gas line there is no on/off switch, only the gas supply company can switch off the supply.


Gas lines run through backyard so be careful when you are excavating.

3. Evacuate the area

If you haven’t already, evacuate yourself and everyone in the surrounding area. You will know you are in a safe place when you are at least 50 metres away and cannot smell gas. If you are concerned about neighbouring properties or businesses make the situation known to neighbours and point out the designated safe location.

4. Call your gas supply company

If you know which gas company owns the gas line that is leaking you will need to ring them immediately. This will allow them to begin emergency procedures to bring the leak under control. This is of course, only applicable if you are in a position where you know which gas company owns the gas lines. You would know this if you are working on a construction site as you would have had to provide that information for approvals, or the resident at the location as it is the company who sends you the gas bill.

How a gas leak is fixed

How a gas leak is fixed will depend on the size and location of the gas leak. If a gas leak is located within a building an expert gas fitter or plumber, normally hired by the gas company, will come to the site to locate and repair the gas pipe. However if the gas leak is outside underground service locators will have to locate the gas line. Once it is located the ground will have to be excavated, preferably with vacuum excavation to avoid any more damage, until the damaged part of the gas line is found.

If a gas line was damaged during excavation work there is potential for fines to be issued against the excavating company if they did not do their due diligence in locating underground utility lines before excavating. However in normal circumstances the gas company will foot the bill for a gas leak and organise repair as quickly as possible to ensure gas services are not severely disrupted.

Vacuum excavation companies are often called out to repair works on gas lines that have been damaged by traditional excavation methods, meaning we’ve seen our fair share of broken gas lines. Whenever we get a call for a gas line repair we know we need to act quickly to provide our non-destructive excavation services to the location, ensuring the repairs can be done without delay.

Get started with Hydro Excavation today!

We offer leading hydro excavation services that Christchurch and Auckland residents have come to count on, with services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need hydro excavation equipment, assistance, or services - contact our dedicated, friendly and professional staff today. We'll tailor a plan to suit your needs and ensure your project is completed as safely, efficiently, and effectively as possible!

Contact Vac-U-Digga NZ today to arrange a personalised obligation-free quote.


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