As the basis of accurate diagnosis, fault early-warning of gas insulation switchgear (GIS) focuses on the time-effectiveness and the applicability. It would be significant to research the method of unified early-warning for partial discharge (PD) and overheated faults in GIS. In the present paper, SO2 is proposed as the common and typical by-product. The unified monitoring could be achieved through ultraviolet spectroscopy (UV) detection of SO2. The derivative method and Savitzky-Golay filtering are employed for baseline correction and smoothing. The wavelength range of 290-310 nm is selected for quantitative detection of SO2. Through UV method, the spectral interference of SF6 and other complex by-products, e.g., SOF2 and SOF2, can be avoided and the features of trace SO2 in GIS can be extracted. The detection system is featured by compacted structure, low maintenance and satisfactory suitability in filed surveillance. By conducting SF6 decomposition experiments, including two types of PD faults and the overheated faults between 200-400 degrees C, the feasibility of proposed UV method has been verified. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography methods can be used for subsequent fault diagnosis. The different decomposition features in two kinds of faults are confirmed and the diagnosis strategy has been briefly analyzed. The main by-products under PD are SOF2 and SO2F2. The generated SO2 is significantly less than SOF2. More carbonous by-products will be generated when PD involves epoxy. By contrast, when the material of heater is stainless steel, SF6 decomposes at about 300 "C and the main by-products in overheated faults are SO2 and SO2F2. When heated over 350 degrees C, SO2 is generated much faster. SOz content stably increases when the GIS fault lasts. The faults types could be preliminarily identified based on the generation features of SO2.