Know the Signs of a Pipeline Leak
The best way to recognize a pipeline leak is by using your eyes, ears and nose.
Look – Persistent bubbling in standing water or discolored vegetation are signs of a possible leak around the pipeline area. A pool of liquid on the ground; a dense white cloud or fog; a slight mist of ice; or unexplained frozen ground near the pipeline are also signs of a possible leak.
Listen – for any unusual noise like a hissing or roaring sound.
Smell – Natural gas is colorless and odorless, so we add a distinctive and pungent odorant to the natural gas to help people detect its presence.* The distinctive smell of the odorant is sometimes described as a rotten egg-type smell.
*Some persons may not be able to smell the odor because they have a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure to it) or because the odor is being masked or hidden by other odors that are present in the area, such as cooking smells or damp, musty, or chemical odors.
In addition, under certain rare circumstances, odor fade (the loss of odorant so that it is not readily detectable by smell) can occur. Odor fade is caused by physical and chemical processes. Other factors that may cause odor fade include: construction and configuration of the customer’s gas facilities; presence of rust, moisture, liquids, or other substances in the pipe; gas composition, pressure, and flow; intermittent, little, or no gas flow over an extended period that normally lasts until the gas flow increases or becomes more frequent; new pipe installations; steel and larger pipes; and certain types of dry soil.
For more detailed information on odorant fade, refer to the attached safety bulletin to contractors who work on natural gas piping, appliances, and equipment and customers.
What to do if you smell natural gas INSIDE your home or building:
Step 1: Leave immediately on foot! Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones) or anything that could cause a spark.
Step 2: Go directly to a safe location, and then call 911 and CenterPoint Energy. Do not use e-mail or the Internet to contact the company about a leak, and never assume someone else has reported the leak.
Step 3: Alert your neighbors. CenterPoint Energy checks suspected natural gas leaks at no cost to you.
Step 4: Never try to repair a natural gas leak yourself. Leave all repairs to a trained technician.
CenterPoint Energy's gas leak toll-free phone number is:
OUTSIDE your home or building:
Step 1: Leave immediately on foot! Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones) or anything that could cause a spark. Move in a crosswind direction away from the leak or vapor cloud and maintain a safe distance.
Step 2: Go directly to a safe location, and then call 911 and CenterPoint Energy.
Step 3: Warn others to stay away from the leak. Abandon any equipment being used in or near the area.
For more information on natural gas safety, tour our natural gas safety section by navigating through the links on the left.