How Can You Detect Gas Leaks Before They Happen?

April 9, 2018

Compressed gas cylinders can leak, and that’s bad news. The immediate way to tell an active leak would be through smell, but it is possible to detect them before you start smelling anything. Just by looking for physical damages, you can save yourself the hassle of having to initiate emergency protocols. Keeping an eye on your cylinder’s physical shape without the concern of potential leaks to begin with is important because if you don’t take a damaged gas cylinder seriously, the consequences can get dangerous, even life-threatening. There are different forms of damage that can incur on a cylinder. These are some of the more common ones, and each of them have their own way of being avoided.

 

Dents

 When we think of dents, one of the first few things that come to most minds are dents in a car. Well, cars aren’t the only things that can get dented. Dents are hollow blemishes caused by hitting or applying too much pressure onto a surface, usually a metal surface. These can have a serious effect on how much gas can be filled inside, since the dent forces a change in the cylinder’s surface area. Filling up a dented cylinder with the usual amount of gas can end up overflowing, which can lead to an unexpected explosion.

 

If a projectile has enough force and energy and hits your cylinder, it can straight up rip a hole right through. A bullet would do that easily. You’d have to get a new one at that point, because any holes or tears make gas cylinders unusable.

 

Burn/Electric Marks

Burn markings are caused due to extreme exposures to high temperatures or even fire. Whether a compressed gas cylinder is under operation or not, you want to make sure the cylinder is in a cool area. Keep it far from any heat, especially when it’s not in use, otherwise burn damage will be imminent. Even electrical damage is possible. Electrical arcs can leave markings and can even melt away the material of a cylinder. Keep it away from any machinery, as putting the cylinder near any are what put the it at risk of electrical damage. Even if the cylinder is sitting near a wire and isn’t damaged, it can still be dangerous.


If for some reason any of the gas escapes the cylinder and touches anything with a flow of electricity, it can create sparks. If, instead, fire’s involved, you better make sure you get everyone far away from the danger, because it’ll escalate into a lethal explosive very quickly.

 

Corrosion

Corrosion is a form of damage typically found in stone and metal. It’s a natural process that gradually weakens its durability and slowly tears away the material. If it’s not taken care of in time, it can create holes. The shapes of the holes will look like someone started chipping away at the weakened metal with their fingers, kinda similar to someone peeling off chips of paint from a wall. Those spots have a light and/or dark rusty color to it. Sometimes you’ll see the lighter brown colors speckled all around on the cylinder. It’s common to find the lighter colors on these kind of things, and they aren’t nearly as dangerous as the darker shades of brown.

 

If the lighter brown is found on almost the entirety of the cylinder, you may not want to put it into use. If you do decide to use it, it’s all at your own risk. Use your good sense of judgement on the matter. As mentioned before, corrosion weakens the strength of metal, so the last thing you want to do is put a gas cylinder with any weak spots into operation. That can cause the gas to escape and burst open the weak spot. That’s an explosion. Not as severe as a fiery one, but still one that can hospitalize innocent victims.

 

You must never under any circumstances operate a compressed gas tank with these forms of damage. A majority of the time, they’re usually caused due to the mishandling of the cylinder. That’s especially the best way to dent your cylinder, letting it constantly shake, rattle, or roll around while being transported. There are legal regulations put in place to prevent any form of detriment from happening to these storage devices, elaborating on how gas cylinders should be handled and stored. Following them is not only a basic requirement, but even a way to greatly reduce the risk of leaks or damages to your cylinders. Even after handling your gas cylinder safely, it’s still recommended you check the cylinder for any damages, just in case. Definitely can’t hurt to, especially when doing so could easily save lives.

 

How Can You Check for Actual Gas Leakage

In most cases, your sense of smell will warn you of an active gas leak. In their natural form, gases like carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, and propane have no smell, however, with industrial tanks, a specific chemical compound is inserted. Manufacturers add this because it gives the gas a smell if it ever leaks from the tank. The smell is as repulsive and strong as a rotten egg or a skunk spray. While the smell is absolutely horrific, it serves as an alarm for potential explosions.

 

It is possible, however, to check for suspicious areas in the cylinder before you even smell it. Gas leak solutions can be found at your local department store. Turn on the gas and spray just a little bit of the solution on the valve, regulator, and hose assembly. If bubbles suddenly start forming, then you know for a fact your cylinder is leaking. A homemade alternative would be mixing dish soap and water together. Pour it in an empty spray bottle and do the same as you would with the leak solution, it’ll do the exact same thing. At that point, you can do whatever you need to do to prevent the leak from continuing. It’s best to do one of the two procedures after the gas has been off for a long period of time.

 

So let’s say there’s no physical harm to be found anywhere on the cylinder. Can your cylinder still leak? Absolutely. Unintentionally leaving the gas on can be considered a leak. Keep it closed if there’s no reason for it to be used, and as long as it’s being operated, don’t leave it unattended.


If you own your own gas cylinder, you can make efforts to have it repaired. If you’re renting a cylinder from a company however, you’ll need to return it. Our store has tons of safety equipment that prevents physical damage, especially for when it comes to transportation. We also offer a rental service that is known for how quick and convenient our payment and delivery system is. You can place an order at our ordering page, or check out the services page to see what to expect from us.

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