Carbon monoxide, commonly referred to as natural gas, is an incredibly useful resource. It serves a number of purposes and is used for many gas-powered applications. However, a gas leak on your property can be very dangerous.
As a property manager, it is very important that you are informed about the dangers of carbon monoxide and are aware of the telltale signs that there may be a gas leak on the property.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a naturally-occurring gas that is both colorless and odorless, making it very difficult to detect. CO is highly flammable and slightly less dense than air. Because of its properties, CO is used for gas appliances like boilers, furnaces, lanterns, and stoves.
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
It is dangerous to breathe in large quantities of carbon monoxide, as it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the brain, heart, and other vital organs of oxygen as well. If you suspect a gas leak in your building, you need to get everyone out immediately.
Small quantities of CO are not harmful to humans, hence the reason why it is used for a number of applications, but large amounts of CO can quickly overcome you in minutes.
Physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include the following.
- Tightness in the chest
Everyone is susceptible to the physical effects of natural gas, but children, the elderly, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to CO poisoning.
In addition to being dangerous to human health, CO is highly flammable. If a large amount of CO is present in your building, a fire can start very easily.
Signs of a Gas Leak in Your Commercial Building
The following signs and symptoms are the most common indicators that there is a natural gas leak in your building.
- Rotten egg odor
- Hissing sounds
- Dead bushes, grass, or plants
- Fatigue, illness, and other physical symptoms
1. Rotton egg odor
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, which makes it very dangerous to humans because it is nearly impossible to detect.
This is precisely why gas companies add a gas called mercaptan (also known as methanethiol) to carbon monoxide.
Mercaptan is a harmless, highly-pungent gas that is characterized by its distinctive rotten-egg-like smell. Mercaptan being mixed with carbon monoxide makes it so natural gas can be detected by its odor.
If you happen to smell this odor within your building, take extreme caution. Unless someone in your building consistently eats rotten eggs, you most likely have a carbon monoxide leak.
Get everyone out of your building and call your utility company immediately.
2. Hissing sounds
While detecting a gas leak is made easier thanks to the addition of mercaptan to gas lines, another symptom of a gas leak is a faint hissing sound.
If you notice a slight hissing noise coming from a specific location in your building, there may be a leak in your gas pipe.
It’s possible that the hissing sound is being caused by something completely unrelated, but we feel that it’s not worth taking that risk. Make sure to call your gas company and have them come out and inspect the property.
A natural gas leak and carbon monoxide poisoning are things that should not be trifled with.
3. Dead bushes, grass, or plants
There are a number of gas pipes located underneath your property that provide carbon monoxide to areas that need it. If there is a leak in one of these pipes, it can easily kill the grass that is located above it.
Exposure to natural gas is just as harmful to plants as it is to humans. If you notice random patches of dead grass, especially if they have a yellowish color, then you likely have a gas leak on the property.
Additionally, if you notice that plants in your building seem to be dying at random, this is likely a sign that you have a gas leak.
4. Fatigue, illness, and other physical symptoms
If you or any of the people who are present on the property showcase any of the aforementioned physical symptoms, specifically fatigue or nausea, this could be due to excessive exposure to natural gas.
Additionally, if you notice that your eyes, face, or skin feel irritated, seemingly without reason, it may be a result of a carbon monoxide leak.
What to Do if You Suspect a Gas Leak on the Premises
If you want our advice, get everyone out immediately. A gas leak is not something that should be taken lightly. Carbon monoxide poisoning is serious business. It kills more than 400 Americans each year and hospitalizes as many as 4,000.
Even if you survive the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, it can cause long-term damage to areas of the body that are heavily reliant upon oxygen, such as the brain and heart.
Some suggest that you remove any fire hazards and flammable objects from your building before leaving, but we strongly recommend that you and everyone else get out immediately.
Human safety is far more important than any physical items becoming damaged or destroyed in a fire. Once everyone is safe, make sure to call your gas company.
How to Prevent a Gas Leak on the Property
The best way to prevent a natural gas leak from occurring on your property is to schedule regular maintenance and tune-ups with your gas company or a third-party HVAC company.
These professionals know exactly what to look for and can identify any potential problems that may occur. You could go your whole life without having to worry about a gas leak, but we believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
While this won’t prevent a gas leak, it is also worth your while to install carbon monoxide detectors on the property. Similar to smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors will alarm you if there is an excessive amount of natural gas present in your building.
Commercial HVAC Services from Design Mechanical
Design Mechanical, Inc. has been providing top-of-the-line HVAC repair, installation, and maintenance services to businesses in the Kansas City area for nearly twenty years.
We have become one of KC’s most trusted service providers. Email email@example.com or call (913) 281-7200 for 24/7 emergency HVAC-related services.
In addition to HVAC services for commercial businesses, we also offer several other building-related services, including mechanical services, construction, refrigeration, and building control installation.