How a Leak Detector Works and Some Consumer Advice
The main task of a natural gas leak detector is to monitor the levels of gas in the surrounding environment. In case these levels rise dangerously, the device will set off an alarm. Gas may escape from gas appliances, heating systems, and indoor and outdoor pipelines. In order to detect the leak, an infrared gas sensor is usually used. These sensors are based on the principle of the selective absorption of infrared radiation by gases and use simple electronics to convert the optical signal into an electrical measurement signal.
Some things that need to considered- especially by the homeowner- when selecting a natural gas detector are the following:
Calibration: Several types of leak detectors need to be calibrated in order to make accurate measurements. The consumer will have to be informed on whether this process in necessary and how to perform it (assistance of technicians or the gas company). Neglecting the calibration process may lead to false readings.
The LEL value: The Lower Explosive Limit, or LEL, is considered to be the lowest amount of gas that can cause an explosion. Leak detectors have various gas levels that set off their alarm (often measured as a percentage of the LEL, e.g. 15% or 20% of the LEL). The lower the gas levels that can be detected, the more quickly the detector will warn of dangerous gas in the atmosphere.
Location: The location of the detector is very important. A detector should always be placed near the potential source of leak inside the house (e.g. gas appliances) and in a way such that the alarm can be easily seen or heard.
Type of alarm: Most models are currently offering both visual and audible alarms. Portable detectors, that are mainly used by technicians, also use vibration as an alarm.
Maintenance: Detector batteries and alarms need to be checked regularly. Some of them have a test button for a quick check on whether the detector works properly or whether the batteries are fully charged.