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How To Detect a Propane Leak

Written on: May 20, 2024

Learn more about propane safety

propane Minnesota Propane is a colorless, odorless gas commonly used for a variety of household tasks and heating applications. It is an energy source that becomes a liquid under moderate pressure and is stored and transported in various pressurized vessels, such as gas cylinders or tanks. Given its efficient and clean-burning nature, increasing numbers of households are turning to propane for their energy needs. However, like all fuels, when handled improperly, it can present serious risks.

The most pressing concern with propane is its flammability and its potential to build up in an enclosed space if there is a leak.

What does propane smell like?

In its natural state, propane has no odor. Propane companies add a pungent odorant, typically described as having a rotten-egg-like smell, to help with the gas’s detection.

If you detect a strong, sulfurous smell, similar to rotten eggs, it’s important to take action immediately. This smell, often compared to the stench of skunk spray, is a result of the odorant that’s added to the typically odorless propane, and it’s a clear indicator of a leak.

Other signs of a propane leak

Your ears can be as important as your nose. Hissing sounds near a gas line, propane tank, or a gas appliance are often a key indicator that gas is escaping. Even if it appears that nothing is amiss, any audible leaks, no matter how insignificant they may seem, warrant immediate investigation.

Propane is heavier than air and can cause physical discomfort or symptoms akin to carbon monoxide poisoning. These can include dizziness, nausea, headache, and in high concentrations, it can lead to coma or death. If you, your family, or pets are experiencing these symptoms and there is a possibility of a propane leak, act as if it is critical and vacate the premises without delay.

What to do if there is a propane leak

Addressing a suspected propane leak must be a well-rehearsed response, similar to how one might handle a fire evacuation. While every situation may vary, there are general steps that should be followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

How to protect your home from propane leaks

Regular, professional maintenance of your propane appliances gives your service technician to spot and repair any problems that could lead to propane leaks.
Propane leak detectors should be installed throughout your home, especially in areas where you have propane appliances. They should be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and placed lower to the floor as propane is heavier than air. A good rule of thumb is to place the detector below the height of the pillows on your bed.

Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, propane leaks cannot be detected by carbon monoxide detectors. This is why you need both propane leak and carbon monoxide detectors.

Do you have other questions about propane safety in your home? Contact your local Lakes Gas office and we’ll be happy to help.