Having a gas stove is one of the leading reasons that natural gas is used in the home. The other common reasons are HVAC heating and water heaters. A gas stove is a surprisingly handy tool if well-maintained. It cooks evenly, the parts are simple, and your stove is still functional even when the power goes out. However, a gas stove also poses a unique risk to your house and family: Gas leaks.
Natural gas burns clean, it doesn’t create smoke or pollutants, which is why it’s used for heat in modern homes. But it’s also dangerous to breath and explosive in high concentrations. If gas begins to leak into your home through the gas like or a burner, you could be in a very hazardous situation. To continue enjoying your gas stove, it is essential to take the proper steps to prevent a gas leak and protect yourself if one occurs.
We’re here to help you do that with a few gas stove best practices.
1) Make Sure Burners Are Turned Off Completely
The single biggest cause of gas leaks in the home is leaving a burner on. When a gas burner is switched on, gas flows out of the burner valves. If the gas is ignited, it burns cleanly and safely away. But if the gas is not on fire, it won’t burn away. Instead, it will pour into the room. Gas in the air creates a risk of both suffocation and explosion.
The most common reason for a burner-leak is when burners are not turned off all the way. You twist the knob to the ‘off’ position but if the valve doesn’t actually click shut, then a little bit of gas can leak through and slowly fill the room. Make sure that your burners are turned completely off every single time you cook. In fact, we suggest making a habit of twisting those knobs firmly every time you pass the stove, just to be sure.
2) Ensure Burners Light Every Time
Another cause of burner leaks is burners that don’t light. There is a critical moment as you turn on a gas burner where you hear the clicking and the gas ignites. Some gas stoves use a pilot light, some use an electric spark. Whatever the mechanism, it is vital that your stove light every single time. If the gas doesn’t light, then it fills the room. If you just turned that burner up to cooking-power, that’s a very open valve and a lot of gas is pouring through without ignighting. Soon, it can be dangerous to risk any spark, even from turning on the lights, or the gas in the room could go up.
Never turn on a burner without making sure it lights. Especially never flip on a burner and walk away without checking.
3) Know How to Re-Light Your Pilot Light (if you have one)
If your gas stove has a pilot light, this is a tiny maintained flame that is used to light all the burners and possibly the oven heating when necessary. If the pilot light goes out in a stove that uses one, then your burners will not be able to ignite. Without ignition, the burners will only be able to leak natural gas when turned on instead of lighting and creating heat to cook with.
The pilot light is in a different location for most stove models, so you should look up whether you have a pilot light in your stove and how to keep it lit. In most cases, you will need to find the hidden area where a tiny flame is maintained. If that flame goes out, you can pretty easily re-light it with a match, a lighter, or a grill light.
4) Place a Gas Detector Near the Bedroom
Natural gas is not carbon monoxide or smoke, so a CO detector or a smoke detector will not go off if you have a gas leak. No matter how careful you are with maintenance and burners, there’s always a chance that a leak will happen on its own or by accident. The protection against that is an explosive gas detector. This detector can be plugged in near your stove and will alert the entire family if the air begins to contain a detectable amount of natural gas.
Natural gas is dangerous like carbon monoxide, in that if the family breathes it in their sleep, they can suffocate. However, it is also much more explosive when allowed to build up. It is vital to have a natural gas detector so that you don’t have to trust your nose and can always respond quickly to a leak.
All gas ranges will dispel CO during normal operation though, so it’s not wise to place a gas detector near the stove or in the kitchen, it will go off every time you use it.
5) Check the Line with a Gas Leak Detector
At least once a year, check the gas line behind your stove. You can pick up a handheld gas leak detector for less than $30. Turn it on in a clean-air area, then point it at the gas line connector behind your stove. If it flashes or beeps, then you might have a small to medium gas leak back there. If you get the OK from your detector, then you can rest assured that the stove was installed correctly and that wear since then has left you still secure from a leak risk.
6) Have Your Stove Maintained Every 5 Years
Finally, remember to keep your stove in good condition. Regular cleaning and good treatment make a difference, but so does attention from a professional appliance technician. Have your stove maintained every few years. 5-year intervals are practical, as stoves rarely have repair problems and a gas stove is often both sturdy and reliable. But every half-decade, have a technician in to check your seals and provide any necessary tune-up or minor repairs.
Your gas stove is a great addition to the house. It’s reliable for cooking, good in a power outage, and doesn’t take an overwhelming amount of maintenance. But it’s also important to remain diligent to keep your family safe from the risk of gas leaks. Use these techniques to cook safely and keep your air clean for breathing.