Can your nose smell it?

It may be hard for some people to smell propane for the following reasons:

  • They have a cold, allergies, sinus congestion or another medical condition.
  • Their sense of smell is reduced due to the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
  • Tobacco smoke, cooking odors and other strong odors can mask the smell of propane.
  • The propane smell may not be strong enough to wake up someone who is sleeping.
  • If the smell of propane is present in the air over a period of time, “odor fatigue” can occur.  The nose “gets tired” and a person no longer smells the propane odor.
  • As people age, their sense of smell can become less sensitive.
  • The propane smell may be in a location (basement or attic) where it is not detected by people in other areas of the building.

A phenomenon called “odor fade” can occur.  An unintended reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane, making it more difficult to smell.  Although rare, several situations can cause odor fade:

  • Air, water or rust in a propane tank or cylinder can reduce propane odor concentration.
  • If the propane is leaking underground, its passage through soil may reduce the smell of propane.
  • The propane odor may stick to the inside surfaces of gas piping and distribution systems and possibly other materials.
  • With a possibility of odor fade or problems with your sense of smell, you should respond immediately to even a faint odor of gas.
  • If you are concerned that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider installing one or more propane gas detectors.