Gas Leakage in Residential and Public Buildings
One of the major causes of gas leakages in Residential and Public Buildings will be down to leaking pipes. Many older buildings will have cast iron piping fitted. This may be taken for granted for many years, but you could be literally sitting on a time bomb.
These pipes can expand and contract, depending on the weather. A very hot sunny day will cause expansion and a cold snap contraction. In time, these can cause cracks to occur. These do not have to be very large. They may be difficult to detect as well. Close visual inspections may prove very difficult to conduct if piping is in a wall or under a floorboard.
It may also be the result of any recent building renovations or repairs where pipes may have been pushed back too far; thus, causing possible breaks.
Water could start rusting the pipes externally or it could get inside the pipes. Iced water will also cause expansions in a crack.
The added smell is there for a reason.
Mercapton should be present in the gas. Gas, on its own, is odorless, so the slightest whiff of this smell will mean that you must act immediately. You should contact all the relevant authorities. However, you must not do the following:
- Never turn on anything electrical.
- Do not use your mobile phone to inform the relevant authorities that you are in the building. You must go outside.
- Any electrical contact can produce a spark. A light switch or another electronic device could produce this.
- Gas cookers and fires must be shut down.
- If you are a smoker and strike a match and if gas is present, then this could trigger an explosion, especially in any confined space.
How bad can this be?
It can get very bad. A gas explosion is pretty much the equivalent of a bomb going off. A recent gas explosion in Harlem, New York destroyed two apartment buildings in 2014. It was thought that gas escaped from an outside main because of the earth’s movement due to frost. The leaking gas then found its way into the building through other piping such as phone lines or any cracks. The gas steadily built, and a trigger exploded it. All it takes is one “hairline crack.”
The damage can be total. Natural Gas is now commonly used. This is pretty much made up of pure methane, which is an extremely combustible hydrocarbon. A sizable building can be blown apart. Walls can be demolished; ceilings and floors will disintegrate. The explosion will create an instant firestorm, which incinerates everything in its path, especially if this is in an enclosed space.
In some US cities such as Cincinnati, there has been a concerted effort to replace aging cast iron gas pipes. Some of this piping dates back to 1873.
The solution is to start replacing aging cast iron gas piping with modern plastic pipes. This applies equally to residential and public buildings. Old pipes will also need to be replaced.