PECO Tips of the Trade
Don’t Rely on Your Nose Alone!

811. Know what's below. Call before you dig.

In case of emergency, call PECO at 800-841-4141.


Natural Gas Leaks Don’t Always Have an Odor
PECO adds an odorant, mercaptan, to natural gas that gives it its distinctive smell; many describe it as similar to sulfur or rotten eggs, but it may smell differently to you. However, sometimes this odor is not apparent. This may occur when a person has smelled the odor for too long, when the odor is masked by other smells, or if the odor is stripped from the gas through physical or chemical processes.

Look and Listen for Gas Leaks
Be alert for obvious gas leak sources, such as a damaged connection to a gas appliance, a pipeline that has been compromised during excavation activities, or a pipeline exposed by an earthquake, flood, or landslide. Use your senses of sight and hearing (not just your nose) to detect these common natural gas leak warning signs:


  • Dirt spraying or blowing into the air;
  • Continual bubbling in water;
  • Grass or plants dead or dying for no apparent reason.


  • A hissing, whistling, or roaring sound.

If You Suspect a Gas Leak…
Warn others and evacuate the area. Do not use matches, cell phones, radios, lighters, or anything else that could create a spark and ignite the gas. Leave the excavation open; do not operate pipeline valves or bury the line. From a safe location, call 911, call PECO, and report the leak to your supervisor. Stay away from the area until safety officials say it is safe to return.

Would You Like to Know More?
Additional digging guidelines, case studies, instructional videos, and training tools can all be found, at no charge to you, on PECO’s e-SMARTworkers website.

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