Smell gas? Move fast.
Learn the signs of a leak and what to do.
- Smell the odor of rotten eggs. If you don’t know the scent, contact us for a free scratch-and-sniff card.
- Hear hissing, roaring or whistling sounds near a gas appliance, meter or pipeline.
- See dead or dying vegetation where the surrounding area is green, blowing dirt or bubbling water in a puddle, river, pond or creek.
Steps to staying safe during a gas leak
Anytime you suspect a natural gas leak, you should react like it’s an emergency.
- Leave the area immediately and evacuate everyone from the home or building.
- Go to a remote location and call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268).
- We’ll investigate the leak for free. Do not return until we confirm it is safe.
- If gas is blowing, also call 911.
- Don’t stop to look for the leak or open windows.
- Don’t use anything that might create a spark, such as a cell phone, light switch or garage door opener. These can ignite gases or vapors.
Your safety is important to us. We recommend homes and business have natural gas detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for operation, placement and maintenance. In addition, before the heating season, we recommend you have a professional come to your home or business and inspect your fuel-burning appliances and all heating and venting equipment.
Important natural gas odorant information
Although Alliant Energy adds a distinctive odor to natural gas as a safety precaution to assist in the detection of leaks, your sense of smell might not be enough to detect a leak.
- Strong smells in the area, like cooking or chemical odors, can mask the smell of natural gas.
- Prolonged exposure to the same smell can desensitize you to it (called olfactory fatigue).
- Certain conditions in the soil or pipes can cause the natural gas odor to fade or be stripped out of the gas, so that it is not readily detectable.
Individuals with a known inability to smell are especially at risk. If this is you, don’t take chances. Get a natural gas detector and carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions for operation, placement and maintenance.
Know the warning signs of CO poisoningWhen a natural gas appliance malfunctions, it can produce carbon monoxide (CO). CO is a deadly odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, which makes it hard to detect. Warning signs of CO poisoning include dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, confusion, nausea and fainting. If you think you may be experiencing CO poisoning, leave your home and seek medical attention immediately.
What can you do to avoid CO poisoning?Install carbon monoxide alarms and carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions for operation, placement and maintenance. Before the heating season, have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances and all heating and venting equipment.
You play a role in safe and reliable service
To assure safe and reliable service, pipelines and gas meters must be accessible. If you are planning to do work on your property that will affect the location or accessibility of a gas meter or service line, please call Alliant Energy to arrange for us to evaluate your plans.
In order to perform required safety inspections on our pipelines, we must have clear access to the pipeline right-of-way (the area on either side of our pipelines). This area must be kept clear of trees, fences buildings and other structures. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Fire pit placementNever place a fire pit above a buried gas or electrical line. If the fire gets too hot, it could cause the gas pipeline below it to melt or leak. Before installing an in-ground outdoor fire pit, make sure it will be in a safe place. Prior to digging, call 811 to have the underground lines located on your property.
Inspect your gas appliances
Natural gas connectors, like those used on ranges, water heaters and clothes dryers, must be inspected regularly and replaced as needed. Only a qualified professional should check for and replace your connector. Certain flexible connectors manufactured between 1970 and 1980 may fail over time and need to be replaced.
After disconnecting a gas appliance, always remove the old connector and cap the gas line.
Check the temperature of your hot water
Do not set your water heater temperature above 120 degrees. Always check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub, and never leave a child alone or with other young children in the bathtub.
Know the kind of gas piping you have in your home or building
If your home or business was built after 1990, or you’ve had work done to the natural gas system, it is likely that corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) was installed. If lightning strikes a structure containing improperly installed CSST, the lightning will travel along the structure’s natural gas piping and could cause a leak or fire.
Have a professional inspect your building or home for CSST if you cannot do it yourself. If you find CSST, Alliant Energy recommends having a licensed electrician make sure it’s bonded and grounded properly.
All types of gas pipes should be properly maintained and never used for unintended purposes, like hanging clothes.
Buried Fuel lines
Some homes and businesses have privately buried natural gas or fuel lines that run to an unattached garage, grill or pool. Customers, not Alliant Energy, are responsible for natural gas lines after the meter. Customer must maintain, operate and know the location of buried lines. A qualified technician should regularly inspect it for leaks. If the pipe is metallic, inspect it for corrosion. Repair if unsafe, or shut off the flow of gas. Prior to excavating, have the piping located and marked. Excavating performed near the pipe should be done by hand.
When pouring flammable liquids, allow for vapor expansion and do not fill to the top. Store gasoline and other flammable liquids in secured cabinets away from children. Explain to children the dangers of flammable liquid products.
It might not be a simple clog. Sewer lines can be damaged when new power lines or natural gas pipes are installed underground. Sometimes the two lines can intersect. This is called a cross bore. The problem can go undetected for years. You could be injured trying to clear a clog from a cross bore. If a cross bore is discovered:
- Do not operate any equipment.
- Evacuate yourself and others.
- Call 911 and the natural gas company from a remote location.
- Eliminate any ignition sources.
Alliant Energy constantly looks at new pipeline design, construction and inspection methods to keep natural gas safe and reliable. Our crews train and plan for hazards to pipelines, such as third-party excavation damage, corrosion, material defects and natural events.
Alliant Energy works with emergency responders and public officials to help them understand the risks of natural gas and the best ways to prepare, prevent and react to emergencies.
Disasters can occur anytime and anywhere. You can minimize risks to people and damage to property by knowing what to do before a disaster:
- Prepare and practice a disaster plan.
- Have a professional inspect and repair any gas connections.
- Know how to turn off gas service at the meter – if instructed to do so.
After a disaster:
- Call Alliant Energy to have your gas service turned back on. Never do it yourself.
- Check for gas leaks when returning. Evacuate and call Alliant Energy from a remote location if a leak is suspected.
- Replace any appliance that has been submerged in water.
Winter storm safety
Snow and ice can damage or block natural gas meters and exhaust vents for appliances, especially following a major snow storm. Chimneys and vents on the roof or side of a building must be clear to allow proper venting, which prevents accumulation of carbon monoxide or equipment malfunction.
Carefully remove snow or debris using your hands or a broom to enable proper venting. Kicking or using a shovel could cause damage. Safely remove icicles from overhead eaves and gutters so dripping water does not splash and freeze on the meter or vent pipe. If you need help, contact a professional.
An excess flow valve (EFV) is a safety device designed to automatically stop the flow of natural gas in a service line, should the gas service line break or be severed. Assuming your gas load and gas system operating conditions meet certain requirements, Alliant Energy can install an EFV in your existing gas service line.
Select your state to learn more about the requirements and costs: