In its natural state, propane is colorless and odorless. As a safety precaution, an odorant is added which gives propane a distinct, noticeable odor. It’s a built-in safety signal.
Be alert for propane odor in areas where propane is used. Even a faint odor may indicate a potentially hazardous situation. If you suspect a propane leak, follow these procedures:
If You Suspect a Leak
How would I check for a leak?
Propane is both odourless and colourless when produced. However, to make the presence of propane detectable, an odour-producing substance is added to it by propane producers. This odourant has a distinctive “rotten cabbage” smell which is consumed and is not noticeable when an appliance is operating.
If you detect such an odour, don’t light a match or turn an electrical switch on or off. Turn off the cylinder valve, ventilate the area, and search out the source of the leak.
Your propane system should be checked periodically for leaks even if the characteristic “rotten cabbage” odour is not detected.
Before using a propane appliance, particularly if you have just connected a cylinder to it, check for leaks using the following method:
Make up a solution of dishwasher soap and water.
Turn on the cylinder valve with the appliance shut off.
Spread the soap and water solution over the hose and the connections with a paintbrush.
Any leaks will result in bubbles forming in the solution.
If a leak is detected, shut off the cylinder valve.
Repair any leak (follow manufacturer's instructions).
Repeat 1), 2) and 3) until no leak is detected before operating the appliance.
If you cannot stop the leak, consult a certified Propane Technician.
Never check for leaks with a lighted match, cigarette lighter, or other flame.
I think I smell “gas”.
Extinguish all smoking materials and other open flames.
Immediately leave the premises in an orderly manner - walking quickly or running across a room may create static electricity and ignite a leak.
Avoid turning light switches on or off. Do not use the telephone. Do not unplug fan motors - or anything that could create a spark.
Shut-off the gas supply using the service valve at the tank, cylinder or meter.
Go to the nearest phone off-premises, and call Sparlings.
Stay out of the building until the leak or problem has been identified and repaired.
We strongly recommend that a qualified Propane Technician re-lights your propane appliances and equipment.
Some people believe incorrectly that the smell of propane gas is simply a signal that their cylinder or tank is nearly empty. When a tank is almost empty, you may notice an odour (i.e. when range top burners ignite). However, if this odour persists, you may have a propane leak.
A persistent gas odour is your signal to TAKE IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY ACTION.
for additional information specific to your propane installation.
“I don't smell gas...”
A variety of factors including colds, allergies, age, and the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs may reduce a person’s ability to detect propane by smell alone.
Cooking odours or other strong odours present may cover up or “mask” the smell of propane.
On occasion, propane may lose its distinctive odour. This is called “Odourant Fade”. Air, water and rust may weaken the gas odour, especially if the tank service valve was left open after the cylinder or tank was empty. The same may occur with a brand-new cylinder or tank left sitting with the service valve open, allowing moisture and air to enter the cylinder or tank. These conditions may permit rust to develop inside the cylinder or tank.
Propane may also lose its effective odour if a leak occurs underground.