Natural gas is one of the most common fuels used in New Mexico homes. Many water heaters, furnaces, clothes dryers and fire places run on some form of gas. It works well, but the downside is that gas leaks can be dangerous and inconvenient.
How do I know if I have a gas leak?
A gas smell is the primary indicator that there’s a leak. You need to act quickly because gas is flammable and can be bad for your health. Keep in mind that some people have a stronger sense of smell than others. If someone in your home says they smell gas, do something about it even if you don’t smell it.
What to do if you smell gas:
1. Get out of the house
Turn off your gas using appliances, open windows and doors and get out. Your safety and the safety of your family comes first. Don’t do anything until everyone is outside. Be careful not to do anything that might ignite the gas. Don’t light matches, start the car, turn on light switches or do anything that might produce a spark.
2. Call New Mexico Gas Company
The Gas Company has an emergency number for situations just like this: 1-888-NM-GAS-CO (1-888-664-2726). They will come out free of charge to do a pressure test – also known as a merc test – to find out if there is a leak.
If the system passes the pressure test, they will advise you if it is safe to go back inside. If not, the gas company will do one of two things: they will red tag the leaky appliance or they will pull the whole gas meter. Unfortunately, they don’t do the actual repairs.
Red Tagging Appliances
If the gas leak is coming from an appliance, like a water heater or furnace, the gas company will red tag it. The gas will be shut off to that appliance until it is repaired or replaced and passes an inspection. They will tell you that the unit needs to be repaired by a licensed repair company, like TLC. Ask your plumber if you need to get an inspection.
Pulling the Meter
Multiple leaks or major gas line damage can cause the gas company to pull the meter. This means that all gas service to the entire house will be shut off until the problem is resolved. Once the repairs are made, the house has to pass an inspection by the gas company before the meter is turned back on. Work with your plumber to get the inspection scheduled.
3. Call a licensed plumber to make the repairs
Once the gas company has decided to red tag or pull the meter, you will have to call a professional plumber to do the gas line repairs. The time and cost will vary depending on the type of repairs needed. For example:
- A simple repair like a gas valve replacement will be a quick fix.
- Replacing a water heater, furnace or another gas using appliance will take longer.
- Installing a new gas line takes the longest and is the most extensive repair.
A licensed plumber will be able to give you a time and cost estimate for your unique situation.
4. Get an inspection to restore gas
The gas company will need to inspect before turning the gas back on. Make sure to visit with your plumber before you schedule an inspection. Certain standards and codes have to be met in order for the gas to be turned back on to your house.
For example, if your heating system is old, it may not be up to code. This should be addressed and updated when the plumber does the repair. This is why it’s very important to hire a licensed plumber. If code issues aren’t addressed before the inspection, the gas company won’t turn the gas back on until it is brought up to code. You don’t want to be without gas any longer than you have to, so make sure your plumber checks everything before the inspection.
What’s the bottom line?
Gas leaks are dangerous. The main thing is to make sure that you and your family are safe. If you smell gas, get out of the house right away and call the gas company or a licensed plumber. From there, they will walk you through what needs to be done.
Gas leaks need to be repaired right away, but knowing beforehand what to do can make the process less frustrating. Make sure you and your family are safe, call the gas company and work with a licensed plumber to fix the problem and pass inspection. You will have everything resolved in no time.