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Propane Gas Leaks: Why You Can’t Always Smell Them

Date: September 25, 2020

Propane Gas Leak tennessee

In its natural form, propane is odorless, but manufacturers deliberately add a chemical compound to give it a strong unpleasant smell. This odorized propane is usually described as something similar to the odor of rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray.

But there are situations that may prevent you from detecting that telltale odor. Sometimes, conditions in your home – or in your body – can make it harder to pick up propane’s scent.

Odorless propane leaks

Commonly known as “odor loss,” this can be caused by:

  • Too much air, water, or rust in your propane tank.
  • A propane leak underground (soil diffuses propane’s odor).
  • Odor “sticking” to the inside of the propane distribution pipes.
  • Diminished sense of smell, caused by old age, sinus congestion or other medical conditions.

What You Can Do

With this in mind, you should take these two precautions for propane leaks.

  1. Install a propane gas detector (or detectors, depending on the size and layout of your home). A propane gas detector is an inexpensive but vital piece of safety equipment; follow manufacturer’s instructions for placement and maintenance.
  2. When in doubt, follow propane safety procedures. React immediately to even the faintest propane odor (or your gas detectors’ alarm) and follow propane safety measures to get your family to safety. Read more about propane safety.

Propane gas detectors: a closer look

Make sure your propane detectors are approved by Underwriters Laboratory by looking for the UL logo on the label. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for installation and battery replacement.

If your propane appliances are in little-used areas in your home, like your basement, propane detectors should be placed there. You should also place detectors close to where other propane appliances are, such as ranges and space heater, as well as outside all bedrooms.

Since propane is heavier than air, propane detectors should be placed no higher than the pillows on your bed, and generally lower than that if possible.

Count on your local propane company for safe, expert installation of propane appliances and delivery of propane.