What Does Propane Smell Like?
Written on: May 8, 2023
Recognizing the warning signs of a gas leak and how to respond safely.
At Delaware Propane, we are proud to deliver fuel that families in Kent, Sussex and Newcastle Counties need to heat their homes and power their appliances. In addition to providing the First State’s most reliable propane delivery, our team also happily answers questions about propane safety.
Gas leaks are a serious matter, but we can help you identify the presence of leaking propane and respond effectively. Delaware Propane can also provide helpful tips to get ahead of the curve and prepare your family for propane leaks.
Know how to recognize the smell of propane.
When propane is produced — as part of the natural gas extraction, oil refining or renewable propane production processes — it has no odor. But propane producers want you to be able to identify it by smell. That’s why they add a gas called ethyl mercaptan or methanethiol to propane. Composed of carbon, hydrogen and sulfur, this additive imparts an instantly recognizable odor. It’s like rotten eggs, spoiled meat or skunk spray. If you smell this in your home or anywhere else, there could be a propane leak.
Responding to a propane leak
It’s crucial that you respond quickly, calmly and correctly to the smell of propane. Here are steps for protecting your loved ones and resolving a gas leak:
- Extinguish any sources of ignition, such as candles or cigarettes.
- Get everyone out of the home or affected area IMMEDIATELY.
- Don’t touch any light switches, thermostats, telephones or appliances until you have safely vacated the home and are outside of the vicinity where you detected gas.
- If you can access it safely, turn off the propane tank or cylinder’s gas-shutoff valve.
- Once you’re a safe distance away, call emergency services and Delaware Propane.
- Give emergency workers and propane-service experts time to look for leaked gas and make any necessary repairs.
- Even if you no longer smell gas, do not return to the scene of the leak or try to turn on the propane-supply valve.
- A trained propane-service technician needs to repair the leak, carefully inspect all gas appliances and relight all pilots.
- Wait for permission from emergency personnel or the service professional before returning.
Prepare your family for the possibility of a propane leak.
Propane is, by-and-large, a quite safe fuel. It’s non-toxic and won’t negatively impact soil or water. But you still need to ensure your family can respond safely in the rare event of a gas leak.
- Make sure to tell your family how to recognize a gas leak and respond appropriately.
- Prominently post phone numbers for emergency services and your propane supplier.
- Take a moment to learn how to turn off the supply valve on your propane tank . Show other members of your household how to do it.
- In addition to your home’s carbon monoxide detectors, install UL-listed gas detectors to alert you to any propane leaks.
Do you have questions about how to use propane equipment in your home safely? Don’t hesitate to contact Delaware Propane with any concerns.