Signs You Have a Gas Leak

Written by Tom Elliott. Posted in Rakeman Blog

You chose to have natural gas lines in your home for a reason. Perhaps you wanted them for energy savings. Natural gas operates more efficiently than other power sources, so you won’t have to pay as much for power to run your water heater or laundry appliances. Or maybe you wanted to go green: natural gas gives you the perfect option when you want to preserve our planet’s natural resources.

However, even though natural gas has a myriad of benefits, it doesn’t come without its dangers. Damaged gas pipes and appliances can lead to gas leaks, and gas leaks can have disastrous (even explosive) consequences.

Warning Signs of a Gas Leak

If you want to keep your home and your family safe, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with these warning signs. You’ll probably never experience a gas leak, but if you do, noticing these signs could save lives.

Olfactory Signs

By itself, natural gas doesn’t have a smell. However, providers add a distinctive odor so you know when you have a leak: rotten eggs. This odor is usually the first warning sign that one of your gas lines or appliances has broken. But you may not always notice the smell if it comes on gradually or if other strong odors mask it.

Auditory Signs

When your natural gas lines or appliances begin to leak, you’ll likely hear a hissing, whistling, or even roaring around the leak. This sound occurs because the gas has found a small hole, and pressure forces the gas at high speeds through that hole. The force makes the material vibrate. Walk around your house to listen for these sounds near your pipes or appliances.

Visual Signs

Unfortunately, natural gas doesn’t give any visual signs on its own. It doesn’t have a color or a shape that will warn you of its presence. But it will cause reactions that give you other visible signs:

  • You’ll see debris, leaves, or dirt blowing away from a small hole.
  • In extreme cases, you’ll see a fire spark. Natural gas has extremely flammable properties, so even a spark from turning on a light switch could ignite it.
  • Dead or dying vegetation near pipelines. Plants need carbon dioxide to breathe, so they’ll die if they only have natural gas around them.
  • Bubbles in wet areas in your yard. This indicates a leak in a pipeline under your property. Damage on a gas line or appliance.

Bodily Signs

Your body will also tell you when you have an advanced leak. You’ll notice symptoms like the following:

  • Headaches (mild to severe, depending on exposure)
  • Abnormal breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Inability to concentrate

The first two symptoms occur after mild exposure, while the others develop the longer you stay in the affected area. If you continue to stay in an area with a gas leak, you may even lose consciousness because your body can’t get enough oxygen.

If you even suspect a leak in your area or near your home, don’t stay near the leak for long, and don’t go looking for the leak’s source after you notice signs. Instead, get as far away as you can, and take your family with you.

Ways to Respond to a Gas Leak

If you know you have a gas leak inside your home, take the following steps:

  • Gather your family members (and pets if you can scoop them up in less than a minute) and leave the area immediately. You don’t know how much the leak has progressed, and you don’t know how close it has traveled to a source of heat or an open flame, like the pilot light in your furnace, water heater, stove, or fireplace. Once it reaches these areas, it can explode. As you leave, don’t touch light switches, phones, appliances, light fixtures, outlets, or any other electrical devices. And don’t scrape your feet across the carpet. You don’t want static electricity to ignite the leak.
  • Walk, don’t drive, to a safe location. You shouldn’t start engines of any kind near the leak, as the resulting combustion could ignite the natural gas.
  • Once you’ve travelled a safe distance from your home, use your cell phone to warn your neighbors, friends, and family about the leak so they’ll stay away from your home.
  • Call 911, then call your natural gas provider.
  • Stay away from the leak until the authorities have taken care of it.

Again, don’t try to locate the leak yourself. You may spend time investigating when you should have used that time to run away. Leave the moment you notice the signs above. Don’t risk your health or your family’s health for the sake of curiosity, and don’t risk your life to turn off the gas valve. Let the authorities handle the leak instead-you can focus your attention on helping your family in the meantime.

4 Signs You Need to Treat Your Water

Written by Tom Elliott. Posted in Rakeman Blog

When you live in the middle of the desert, you value clean water. You have to drink it constantly to keep up with the dry air, and you have to bathe more often to keep up with sweat and heat. Even if you work in an air-conditioned hotel, you’ll still feel the climate’s effects.

So when your home’s water starts doing strange things, you probably feel alarmed. Whether it turns a strange color or develops a strange taste, you become concerned and maybe even scared. All you want is clean, normal water. This usually means you’ll need a water treatment solution.

However, before you can determine what kind of water treatment solution you need, you’ll need to diagnose your water’s problem. Below, we’ve given you a brief explanation of your water’s potential symptoms.

1. It has a strange color or appearance.

You probably don’t like it whenever you find an insect or a piece of food floating in your water, so you’ll likely feel worse when it tur ns a strange color. An altered hue or appearance could indicate a number of problems:

  • Grayness, cloudiness, or milky qualities. Your water contains natural contaminants, like dirt, clay, sand, organic matter, or other particles. These qualities can also indicate methane gas contamination.
  • Foaminess. This usually indicates that your water contains soaps, detergent, or diluted sewage.
  • Redness or brownness. This accompanies iron contamination.
  • Yellowness. Your water will turn yellow if tannins from your soil or plants seep into the water.

If you see any of these signs, write down where they occur and how often. Then call your plumber.

2. It has a strange smell.

Smells might make you more concerned than water. The smells will block your ability to taste the water as crisp and clear. And if you r water has a strong odor, you might not want to drink your water at all. You need hydration to stay on your feet in our desert city, so You need to identify the problem and fix it as soon as possible. Common odors include:

  • Bleach: As you might expect, this simply indicates that you have chlorine in your water. This means it will smell l ike a swimming pool.
  • Detergents: You have soap in your water.
  • Must, earth, or dirt: You have organic matter or actual dirt in your water.
  • Oil or gas: This indicates that you might have gasoline or other semivolatile compounds in your drinking water.
  • Rotten eggs: Smells like this often accompany sulfur. In this case, you probably have a hydrogen sulfide contamination.
  • Sweetness: This means that you have volatile or semivolatile compounds in your water. Avoid drinking it until You get this fixed. Stock up on bottled water in the meantime.

Again, you’ll want your plumber to double check on these odors. Only then can he or she help you find the right water treatment for your needs.

3. It has a strange flavor.

Strange tastes may also indicate a contaminant’s presence. Watch for these common flavors:

  • Metal. You’ll taste this when your pipes contain corrosion from copper, iron, lead, manganese, and other metals
    . It can also come from sodium chloride.
  • Sharp chemicals. If you didn’t smell your water before drinking it, this flavor will tell you that your water contain s volatile and semivolatile compounds. It might also contain pesticides and herbicides. Do not drink this water. Use bottled water in the meantime.
  • Chlorine. This indicates the same thing as a bleach smell. You have chlorine in your water.
  • Grit. You’ll be able to feel and taste sand or dirt in your water.

Remember that even though you may have water troubles, you still need to drink water. Stock up on bottled options, then call your plumber to get a second opinion. Plumbers have actual meters that’ll tell them exactly what you have in your water. Then you can move on to choosing a softener or filter.

4. It does strange things to what it touches.

You’ll notice these signs as visual or textural cues. These signs include:

  • Blackening or pitting on sinks, tubs, and fixtures. You have hydrogen sulfide or manganese in your pipes. You should be able to smell the hydrogen sulfide.
  • Blue-green stains on sinks, tubs, and fixtures. These stains often accompany a metallic taste and indicate metal corrosion, especially from copper and brass.
  • White deposits on sinks, tubs, fixtures, dishes, etc. These deposits are a sign of hard water. “Hard water” refers to water that contains high concentrations of calcium or manganese.
  • Dry hair or skin. Calcium affects the way soap lathers and dries, so it doesn’t clean your body properly. You’ll ha ve drier hair and skin than usual if you have hard water.
  • Soaps that won’t lather or stay soapy. Again, hard water keeps your cleaning agents from foaming properly.
  • People who drink it feel ill. This usually indicates that you have microorganisms in your water.

Each problem requires a different kind of filter. If you only have hard water, you may only need a water softener. However, if you have problems with lead or microorganisms, you’ll need something a little stronger. Once your plumber tests your water, he or she will help you find the best solution for your needs. Call your plumbing or water experts today for more information.

Clear the Air: How to De-Stink Your Drains

Written by Tom Elliott. Posted in Rakeman Blog

Have you ever turned on the tap only to be greeted with a putrid sewer stench wafting from your drain? Most homeowners will encounter smelly sink drains at one point or another. When you put all sorts of bath products and organic materials down the sink, it’s only a matter of time before you have to smell the residue.

Fortunately, you don’t have to live with stinky drains forever. Read on to learn more about why your drains smell and what you can do to fix them.

Why Your Drains Smell

Most of the time, you’ll notice stinky drains when you turn on the water in your sink, shower, or bathtub. As the water flows down the pipes, it can dislodge bits of debris and cause the smell.

To determine whether you have stinky drains or stinky water, plug the sink before you turn the water on and see if it still smells bad. If you only notice the odor when you run water down the drain, you have a smelly drain.

Most often, these smells happen because of hair, dirt, mildew, and bacteria slime coating your pipes. In the case of your garbage disposal, the smell could also come from food remnants.

What You Can Do to Fix Your Drains

No matter how smelly the drain, you can have your sink back in no time with some simple steps. Try one or a few of these remedies to clear your pipes and say goodbye to stink.

Flush the Drain with Hot Water

Sometimes hot water alone, or mixed with some common household items, can banish bad odors. Take a couple quarts of very hot water and pour them down the drain. Wait a few minutes and then follow it with a few quarts of cold water, then a few more quarts of hot water.

If hot water alone won’t cut it, you can mix one part bleach with 10 parts hot water and pour them down the drain. The bleach will kill odor-causing bacteria and the hot water will flush out sediment. You can also try half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. Pour the baking soda into the drain first and follow it with the vinegar. Let it sit and then flush with hot water.

Grind Ice and Citrus Peels in the Garbage Disposal

To clean out your garbage disposal, dump a few handfuls of ice down the drain. Run the disposal and let the ice clean off the blades. You can also put a few orange, lemon, or lime peels down the drain and run the disposal for a fresh citrus scent. The acid in the fruit pee ls will also help clear the drain.

Clean Out Your P-Traps

The P-trap in your sink refers to the rounded pipe under the drain. This trap holds water to seal the pipe and prevent sewer gases fr om backing up through your sinks. If your P-trap has a clog or has dried out, the smell will let you know.

You can easily clean the P-trap yourself with some simple tools. You just need a bucket or container, pliers, and a wire coat hanger or bottle brush.

Put your bucket underneath the P-trap and use pliers to take off the two nuts holding it in place. Once you take off the trap, clean it out with the coat hanger or bottle brush. Reattach the trap, and you’ve finished. Don’t forget to run some water to flush the drain and refill the P-trap.

Schedule a Total Sewer Vent Line Inspection

If your P-trap looks clear and your drains still smell, call a plumber for a total sewer vent line inspection. Older houses in particular can often encounter issues with ventilation in the plumbing. When your ventilation doesn’t work, air from the pipes backs up through your drains instead of exiting outside your house.

A total sewer vent line inspection can restore your ventilation system when cleaning your P-traps doesn’t cut it.

How You Can Prevent Smelly Drains in the Future

You can limit how often you have to deal with smelly drains by watching what you put down your sink. Although things like soap an d shaving cream will always have to exit through the pipes, you can avoid putting certain kinds of foods down your garbage disposal.

To keep your pipes free and clear, never put the following items down your disposal:

  • Any kind of oil or fat, liquid or solid.
  • All starchy foods, such as potatoes and rice.
  • Any fibrous or membranous foods, such as stringy vegetable peels and eggshells.

If you don’t have a garbage disposal, put mesh strainers in your kitchen sink’s drains to catch any solid food particles and keep the m out of your pipes.

No matter how bad the stink, you don’t have to live with smelly drains. Use these tips and techniques to clear your drains and keep odors at bay.

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  • Rakeman Plumbing
  • 4075 Losee Rd
  • North Las Vegas, NV 89030
  • Phone: 702-642-8553
  • Fax: (702) 399-1410
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