Propane Smell: What to do if You Suspect a Propane Leak

Posted by Chris Kauffman
| May 2016

4 easy steps: extinguish, leave, shut off and report! 

One of the many benefits of propane is that it is a safe fuel. But like any fuel leak, propane leaks can be dangerous. Regular maintenance can help you prevent leaks. But knowing the signs and protocol in the event of an emergency can help keep you safe.

Propane smells like rotten eggs or skunk sprayPropane smells like rotten eggs or skunk spray

Propane gas is naturally colorless and odorless. But propane manufacturers add a strong sulfuric smell to help customers detect a propane leak.

Ethanethiol is the organosulfur compound that is added to create the warning smell. It naturally occurs in small amounts in petroleum. It’s not harmful in the added concentrations.

Propane leak will sound like a hiss 

If you hear a hiss-like sound like escaping air paired with the rotten egg smell, it might mean you have a leak in the valve or hose. 

If you smell propane gas…

1. Put out all flames and sparks

First, put out any open flames, smoking materials, or something likely to cause a spark. Do not operate your lights, appliances or other electrical items as static electricity could trigger an explosion or fire.

2. Leave the area immediately

Remove all children and pets from your home if you suspect propane gas is leaking.

3. Shut off propane gas valve on propane tank

Turn the valve to the right (clockwise) to turn off the main gas supply to your propane tank.

aboveground-propane-tank-valve.jpgunderground-propane-gas-tank-hood-valve.jpg

4. Report the propane leak

Call your propane retailer or call 911 from a safe building away from the propane leak.  

After the leak is secured, get your system checked

Do not operate any appliances until you have had your propane system checked by an authorized propane supplier. Your propane supplier should check for leaks at the source of the tank and the hook ups to all of your propane gas appliances.

Install a propane gas detector

Propane gas detectors will sound an alarm if they sense propane gas in the air. Combination Explosive Gas detectors often detect propane gas, methane, and carbon monoxide.

How to prevent propane gas leaks

Propane gas leaks happen, but can be prevented with proper care and regular maintenance.

  • Call an expert to hook up and maintain your propane appliances - this will ensure all lines are hooked up properly.
  • Treat connectors with care - when moving appliances, make sure the gas line connector is handled with care. Cracking, flexing, or twisting increases the likelihood of a propane leak.
  • Plug or cap unused gas lines - If you move an appliance or it is not in use, make sure the gas line is properly secured.
Chris Kauffman

About the Author

Chris Kauffman

Chris is the Vice President of Kauffman Gas. He is the fourth generation of Kauffmans involved in the daily operations of Kauffman Gas. He helps lead the team in delivering propane gas and top quality service to customers in Chester County, Lancaster County and parts of Delaware County, Pennsylvania.