Is Sewer Gas Flammable: Does It Catch Fire?

People in the early 20th century feared sewer gas for possibly causing diseases. However, science busted the myth to reveal a more troublesome issue.

The gas is more than just a nuisance for homeowners and even neighbors. It concerns the potential danger of causing different degrees of serious problems.

Obviously, you would like to know – is sewer gas flammable to cause havoc. And we have the essential information you need on its overall fire hazard.

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Can Sewer Gas Catch Fire?

The answer isn’t exactly stimulating in any way – Sewer gas is pretty much flammable, no thanks to the methane. More frightening, its ignition can cause an explosion to blow off your entire house.

The gas itself is a complex mixture of various toxic and non-toxic gaseous chemical compounds. Typical sewage components (organic household + industrial waste) produce the gases.

And the mix includes – methane (CH4), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), ammonia (NH3), nitrogen oxides (N2O), and esters. Different components are present in the mixture in varying percentages.

No artificial settlement is safe from the hazards of sewer gas in the modern world. There are measures to prevent problematic situations from living houses to industrial and commercial buildings.

Why Does Sewer Gas Explode?

The odds of explosion are pretty high with the ignition of this invisible mix. And the complicated sewer gas composition directly contributes to the issues.

As already mentioned, methane is a highly flammable gas alone. Whether it’s biogas or mineral gas – methane is the ultimate ingredient of combustion.

However, methane primarily takes part in igniting the gas mixture.

The NH3-CH4 combo triggers lethal explosions following the mix’s ignition. A sufficient amount of gas trapped inside the house means serious danger.

Any source of ignition can instantly have the entire house destroyed.

Also, the sulfide gas lets you know the gas’s presence inside with its foul smell. So, you should worry about the CH4-H2S-NH3 combo in the gas mixture.

Health Effects of Sewer Gas:

There’s no space to neglect the slightly foul smell from your plumbing fixture. Inhaling the disgusted gaseous mix has reasonably adverse effects.

Hydrogen sulfide poisoning is almost guaranteed with its inhalation. Even the lowest concentration can cause irritations, coughing, or shortness of breath. However, you may have the effects delayed.

But moderate H2S concentration causes severe eye and respiratory irritation with breathing difficulty. And headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, etc., may accompany these primary symptoms.

You better come to senses long before reaching this level to get to high concentration. You’re likely to suffer from shock, convulsions, inability to breathe, rapid unconsciousness, and even coma.

Exposure to concentrated ammonia causes eye, nose, and throat irritation. The toxic gas is literally a poison to humans at further levels. Long-term inhalation can even trigger eventual organ failure.

Believe it or not – an excessive amount of hydrogen sulfide or ammonia can kill you.

Meantime, higher methane concentration eventually replaces the comparatively light ground oxygen. Therefore, you may suffer from asphyxiation from intense exposure to the CH4-H2S combo.

Sewer Gas Exposure Information:

Obviously, the gas flows back into the building through a partially failed plumbing system. Knowing the causes of sewer gas smell can help you buy some time.

  • Dried-out piping due to the loss of water barrier in the traps.
  • Floor drains are placed located near to heated surface or source.
  • Clogged or blocked drain pipes to push the gases backward.
  • Cracks in the drain line or vent pipes to release the sewer gas.
  • Plumbing vents installed too close to the apartment windows.
  • Cracks in the building foundation in its accessible/open parts.
  • Seldom-used drains to bypass the pressurized sewer gas mix.
  • Possible diffusion from a lech field septic system of the home.
  • Loosely fitted toilet/commode to the installed piping fixture.

Likewise, it’s impossible for commoners to diagnose leaks in hard-to-reach places. That’s why you must appoint a plumbing service after getting foul smells.

How to Detect Sewer Gas Leaks?

The most noteworthy detection comes from the gas itself. Hydrogen sulfide’s well-known rotten egg smell is sure to hit your nose.

Also, the intense smell of ammonia should accompany the gas. You better call a plumber or emergency services right away to fix leaks.

Plumbers often initiate smoke tests in different parts of the house. And the process even enables them to find the leak or leaks.

However, less or almost no smell doesn’t indicate the level of danger. Your space may be filled with other odorless gases for now.

That’s why you need to use modern methods of gas detection. There are several well-working devices available in the market.

Gas detectors work by analyzing the odor present in the room. Also, you should have sufficient info on how the detector works.

Even if you don’t have any trouble, a gas detector is still worth it. You don’t have to rush to the market right before accidents.

How to Detect Sewer Gas Leaks

Preventive Measures for Sewer Gas Leaks:

Safety comes first, no matter the cost. And you’re in a position to gamble with your beloved ones’ lives.

Appoint a plumber once in a while to check for anything out of the ordinary. You can set a preferable interval for the checkup.

Whenever you detect something suspicious, don’t hesitate at all. Get plumbing services in the house before anything goes wrong.

Keep the local authorities’ emergency contact numbers saved. This simple step can certainly help you avoid disastrous situations.

How to Prevent Sewer Gas Explosion?

Flammability of sewer gas comes without any specific extinguishing measures. Because the fire is likely to explode one way or another. And there’s nothing you can do to contaminate the fire/explosion.

The only way to keep this nearly-instant incident from happening is to follow preventive measures.

Always keep your ears, noses, and eyes open to smells, leaks, and cracks. Fixing the issues as early as possible can save valuable lives and properties. Turn off all sources of ignition following any gas detection.

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Wrapping Up

So, that’s all from us to cover your answer – is sewer gas flammable.

There are many incidents of serious explosions from sewer gas combustion. And its within-second action makes the gas even more dangerous.

Maybe it’s time for you to give the house’s plumbing system a good look.