Gas Line Installation & Repair | Natural Gas Safety
Continued from Part 1 of Gas Line Installation & Repair A gas leak is a BAD BAD thing - you do NOT want these. You should check any gas line/appliance for gas leaks. While rare, natural gas line leaks can be extremely dangerous. The most telling sign of a natural gas line leak is the familiar rotten egg odor the natural gas coming into the home has. This odor is added to the natural gas so it can be detected in the event of a leak.
If you are not familiar with it, simply turn on your BBQ grill for a few seconds and take a whiff. If you ever smell this under normal operation, turn OFF the gas connection as soon as possible and remove any source of flame/sparks. If in doubt, just LEAVE and call 911. The biggest hazard of a gas leak is an explosion. When natural gas builds up in an enclosed area, it becomes extremely volatile. A gas build up has the potential to be explosive, or could make those in the area very sick. Gas leaks in the home can be easily prevented by ensuring flexible gas lines are inspected regularly and installed properly by licensed professionals. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns natural gas users that older brass, uncoated appliance connectors can come apart, causing fires and explosions resulting in deaths and injuries. CPSC has also prepared a Safety Alert (pdf) on flexible gas connectors. Defective connectors are most often found on naturalgas ranges, ovens and clothes dryers (sometimes on water heaters and furnaces) that are 20 years old or older.
Gas Line Leaks
Gas leaks outside the home are dangerous as well. Most gas lines coming into the home are buried underground. Before doing any job that requires digging outside, homeowners should call the utility company at least 48 hours before digging. The utilities will be contacted and asked to mark the lines they own. After the lines have been marked, safe, careful digging can begin.
- If you detect a strong gas odor, follow these tips:
- Do not attempt to locate the leak.
- Do not turn on or off any electrical appliances.
- Do not smoke or use any open flames.
- Leave the house and, from a safe distance, call the utility company and 911.
- When digging outside, if a natural gas line is damaged, call the utility immediately. Do not attempt to repair the line.
By following these safety tips, natural gas can continue to be a safe and efficient source of energy for the home.
Signs of a Gas Leak
- See A white cloud, mist, fog, bubbles in standing water, blowing dust, or vegetation that appears to be dead or dying for no reason.
- Smell A distinctive, strong odor similar to rotten eggs.
- Hear A roaring, hissing, or whistling sound.
Turn off your gas ONLY if you hear natural gas leaking inside or outside. Once the gas is off, leave it off. Follow these steps to turn off your gas valve locatedon the house line connected to your meter. DO NOT rely on your sense of smell alone to detect the presence of natural gas Some people may not be able to smell the odor because they have a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure to it) or because the odor is being masked or hidden by other odors that are present, such as cooking, damp, musty or chemical odors. In addition, certain conditions in pipe and soil can cause odor fade - the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.
Learn how to manually turn off your homes main natural gas line If you need to have your gas service turned off, your utility company will provide the service for you. However, should a situation arise where you need to turn off your gas supply immediately, please follow this simple procedure:
- Locate the shutoff valve on the riser pipe from the ground to your meter (Figure A) or on newer meters the service line going from your meter into the house (Figure B).
- Use an adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench to turn the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the valve head is parallel to the pipe, it is in the OPEN position.
- Turn the valve head crosswise (perpendicular) to the pipe and it will be in the OFF position.
- There are also natural gas shutoff valves on the lines fueling individual pieces of equipment
Fixing Leaks in Gas Pipes
Once the gas is off, leave it off. When you are ready for the gas to be restarted, qualified service technician will check your system, turn on your service and relight your appliances for you. If your gas company tells you to fix a gas pipe leak, you will need a licensed professional MN plumber. ONLY a licensed plumber is permitted to work on gas lines/gas leaks. The plumber will fix your gas pipe so that your home is safe and sound and it's safe for the gas company to turn your gas back on.