If you’re looking to save money and reduce your environmental impact, natural gas may be the answer. It is a clean, abundant source of heat, allowing you to power your home and appliances while releasing few pollutants. However, as clean as it is, there are still risks associated with natural gas, so before you begin using it, make sure to follow these gas piping safety tips:

Appliance Awareness

The first step in gas piping safety is to be aware of all natural gas burners on your property. Common Gas Appliances include:

  • Woodless fireplaces
  • Furnaces
  • Grills
  • Water Heaters
  • Backup Generators
  • Laundry Dryers
  • Outdoor Lights
  • Pool Heaters
  • Space Heaters

Carbon Monoxide Caution

Guarding against carbon monoxide is fundamental to gas piping safety. Although natural gas is generally clean, if its burners are damaged or lack the proper air flow, it can produce carbon monoxide. An odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas, carbon monoxide prevents your body from transporting oxygen correctly, causing your brain and organs to shut down. Even mild exposure to the gas can render most adults ill within minutes and can be fatal within hours. The following precautions will help you protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Installing a Detector- Carbon monoxide detectors resemble smoke detectors and will alert you if carbon monoxide enters your air. Once installed, don’t forget to regularly change your detector’s battery and inspect it to make sure it is working properly.
  • Inspecting the Vents- Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate in your house and should thus be repaired immediately. Inspect the chimneys, flues, and vents on all appliances that use natural gas, and report any problems to your natural gas provider.
  • Safe Heating- If you have a gas oven, don’t use it to heat your house. Likewise, if you use gas space heaters to warm a room, make sure that the room’s ventilation is working properly.
  • Frequent Checkups- Schedule to have all of your natural gas-powered appliances inspected at least once per year.
  • Recognizing the Symptoms- If all else fails, you can still protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by watching out for the symptoms and taking immediate action if you or your loved ones experience them. Early symptoms resemble those of the flu: nausea, headache, dizziness, confusion, exhaustion, and rapid breathing.

If carbon monoxide builds up in your home, evacuate the building immediately; the longer you or your loved ones are exposed to the gas, the higher the chance of permanent brain or organ damage. Once you are safe from the gas, call the fire department or 9-1-1, as well as emergency medical services if anyone shows signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Guarding Against Gas Leaks

In addition to carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks are a common gas piping safety hazard. If left unattended, leaked natural gas can poison residents or lead to an explosion. Always be on the alert for the following signs of a gas leak:

  • The Sights- Gas leaks can cause plants to become discolored and standing water to bubble. They can also produce fogs, icy mists, pools of liquid, or freezing along the pipelines where they originate.
  • The Smells- Although natural gas is naturally odorless, utilities combine it with a smelly sulfurous gas to make it easier to detect. If you pick up a strong scent of rotten eggs, there’s a good chance you’re near a gas leak.
  • The Sounds- Gas leaks produce either a hissing or a roaring sound, depending on the severity of the leak.

As with carbon monoxide, if you believe there to be a gas leak in your home, evacuate the building immediately and call 9-1-1. Also make sure to alert your neighbors, since a gas explosion in your home could threaten theirs. Do not try to locate the source of the leak, and if you do stumble upon it, do not attempt to fix it. Leave that to professionals trained in gas piping safety.

Natural gas leaks also present a danger if they occur outside. If you have reason to believe that an outdoor area has been exposed to leaked natural gas, leave that area immediately without touching your phone or any electrical equipment. Once you’ve reached a safe distance, call 9-1-1 and alert any passersby not to go near the gas.

Diligent Digging

Even if you only plan to dig a shallow hole, you could end up puncturing an underground pipeline, causing gas leaks and other gas piping safety hazards. Call 8-1-1 and alert local authorities at least two days before you start digging. The authorities will contact local natural gas, electrical, and telephone utilities and will give you a chart marking any hazards in the area where you plan to dig. Once you receive the chart, make sure to follow its instructions to the letter.

Careful Construction

If you’re planning a construction project, make sure what you build will not obstruct natural gas pipelines. Even if your project does not touch the pipeline, it could serve as a barrier to repair teams, preventing them from fixing future gas leaks. All gas pipelines should be marked by warning signs delineating the pipelines’ right of way, but just in case, call 8-1-1 and follow the same procedure that applies to digging. You should also avoid planting any shrubs, trees, or other plants near a natural gas source.

Private Piping

Most homeowners buy their natural gas from pipelines that supply their cities. If you live in a sparsely-populated area, however, it may not be possible to buy natural gas from a broader source, in which case you’ll have to have your utility build a pipeline directly to your house. If you do this, you’ll be responsible for inspecting and repairing your gas line, as well as for warning your neighbors of its presence. Never buy a customer-owned line unless you’re sure you can keep it safe.

Looking to install, repair, or upgrade natural gas heating in your home? Contact Bill Fenwick Plumbing, Inc.today for safe, affordable natural gas products and services.

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