Property Manager Guide: Gas Leak

What is a Gas Leak?

A gas leak is a term that is used for a leak that occurs when any of the gas lines or gas appliances in your home spring leaks. Gas leaks inside your home should always be a cause for concern. You can be alerted to a gas leak through your sense of sight, sound, or smell by the:

  • Dead or dying vegetation over or near gas pipelines in your home
  • Dust or dirt blowing from the ground due to exposed gas lines
  • Damaged connections to the gas appliances in different rooms in the home
  • Hissing, whistling or exploding sounds near the gas lines
  • Strong and distinctive gas leak odours and smells (E.g Rotten eggs and sulphur)
  • Air bubbles forming in the standing water in the garden
  • Sudden high gas bill
  • Sometimes, you won’t be able to smell the leaking gas either due to the internal and external natural odours masking the gas smell or the gas smell is too quick to fade. Also, certain health conditions can limit your ability to sense a gas smell through a leak.

Where Does It Occur In The Property?

Gas leaks in a residential property is a potential safety hazard. Natural gas leaks are composed of methane that not only affects your health (Dizziness, nausea, headaches, carbon monoxide poisoning, and fainting) but also causes uncontrollable fires and explosions. The most common culprits for gas leaks are:

  • Gas meters
  • Furnaces
  • Gas water heaters
  • Stoves, cookers, and cooking ranges
  • Gas-powered generators
  • Boilers
  • Underground gas pipes
  • Gas connection joints for gas appliances

It is an important factor that you don’t use cell phones, operate electric switches or smoke around the area that shows any indications of gas leaks.

What Are The Causes of a Gas Leak?

  • Wear and tear such as bends and breaks can occur with the gas pipes as they age. Gas supply pipes are made of cast iron and can corrode over a period to cause sudden gas leaks.
  • Substandard materials used in the manufacture of imported cheap gas appliances, appliance’s poor fitment and poor maintenance can cause gas leaks.
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes can contribute to gas appliances leaking from the gas pipe joints.
  • The gas supply lines may be partially seated from different gas appliances in the property which can cause a leak.
  • Tampering with the gas meter or the corroded gas line joints connected to it can also cause the leak to originate from there.
  • Most of the time, human error is the main cause of gas leaks in residential property. A simple mistake such as leaving the stove on can cause a massive gas leak that can lead to a catastrophe.

What Are The Remedies Available?

If you suspect a minor leak for any reason, you can find the cause and prevent the full gas leaks that can be life-threatening for you and your family. You can:

  • Buy a propane and natural gas leak detector
  • Install a carbon monoxide and explosive gas alarm
  • Conduct a soapy water test by dousing the suspected area and looking for any bubbles
  • Service the gas appliances regularly and check them for any damages
  • Check that all the gas joints are securely fastened to the gas appliances
  • Buy and install an earthquake emergency shutoff valve or the gas lines
  • Check for corrosion around the gas meter and gas pipeline brazed and welded joints
  • Inspect blue flames coming out of the gas appliances as it indicates a gas leak
  • Call the National Gas Emergency helpline for immediate help
  • Hire a professional to check the gas delivery system for the entire home

Are There Any Legal Implications?

The landlord is responsible for the gas safety standards in the residential property. The landlord is also responsible for any harm to the tenant caused by hazardous gas leaks. The gas safety regulations 1998 cover rental properties and state that the landlord has to make sure that the gas appliances and their fittings are up to the standard for tenant safety. The landlord has to ensure that the gas work is carried out under the supervision of a Gas Safe registered engineer for the safety of the tenant. The landlord has to have a yearly check done and a gas safety certificate issued by a gas-safe engineer.

It is also the landlord’s responsibility to provide a carbon monoxide alarm to any room with a solid fuel burning appliance or boiler:

From 1 October 2022, all properties will be expected to have CO detector fitted in every room that is:

  • used partly or wholly as living accommodation, and
  • contains any appliance which burns or can burn fuel.

This would include gas boilers, wooden stoves, open fires, etc.
The only exception to this – are rooms where the only fuel-burning appliance is a gas cooker. While the legislation does not define a gas cooker precisely, the Government guidance states it is ‘any apparatus heated by gas and used for cooking food.’
Where a fireplace is purely decorative, and has been blocked off, then a CO alarm would not be required.

If the tenant installs his or her gas appliances in the property, the landlord is responsible for the gas pipelines that deliver gas to the appliances and periodic gas safety checks. The tenant has to take care of the gas appliances by monitoring them and performing regular maintenance.

In both cases, It is obligatory for the landlord to inform the tenant about the emergency gas shutoff mechanisms.

What To Consider As A Property Manager?

The property manager has to check the home for any gas leaks before renting it out or a tenant is living under it. A property manager has to take the following considerations into account to ensure the tenant’s safety.

  • Keep a record of the annual gas inspections and periodic maintenance.
  • Keep a copy of recent gas bills to compare with the high bills caused by gas leaks.
  • Visit the residential property periodically to check for any gas leaks in the pipes and gas appliances.
  • Tend to the tenant’s inquiry for a gas leak.
  • Visually confirm the minor gas leaks and their place of origin.
  • Contact the National Gas Emergency helpline for major leaks.
  • Inform the landlord about the gas leaks.
  • With landlord consent, contact a gas-safe registered engineer to troubleshoot and fix the gas leaks.
  • Let the landlord know the total cost of the repairs and handle the repairs

Tenant Factsheet

  • Ask the property manager or the landlord to provide the annual gas inspection and periodic maintenance records.
  • Keep an eye on gas bills.
  • Mention in the tenancy agreement who is responsible for supplying gas appliances.
  • Install gas leak detectors and alarms.
  • Call the National Gas Emergency number if gas leaks are suspected.
  • Hire a Gas Safe Registered Engineer to repair or replace the gas appliances that are leaking gas.
  • Provide adequate ventilation for the gas appliances and their flues.
  • Contact the landlord or the property manager for the gas leaks in the property.

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