General Propane Safety Tips
To readily recognize a leak, know what propane smells like. Ag Plus has pamphlets available with a scratch-and-sniff spot so that your entire family can recognize the smell. Propane leak detectors, similar to carbon monoxide detectors, are available.
If you smell a leak, immediately evacuate everyone from the building, turn off the propane tank, and call Ag Plus or the fire department from your neighbor’s phone. DO NOT remain in the building, use the telephone or light switches, or try to determine the source of the leak by yourself.
Be aware of where gas service lines are located, especially when working in your yard.
Water can damage the internal safety mechanism in the gas controls of an appliance. If you suspect that your appliance gas controls may be wet (because of flooding, for example), have a trained technician replace them immediately.
Heating Appliances—All furnaces collect lint and dirt and should be cleaned regularly. Contact a trained technician for information on proper cleaning, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Water Heaters—Drain your tank periodically (until water runs clean – usually 2 to 3 gallons) to get rid of sediment buildup on the bottom of the tank.
Ranges—Have your kitchen range serviced if the burner flame is not blue. The blue flame indicates complete combustion. A yellow flame means air inlets are clogged or burners need adjustment. Contact a trained service technician immediately. Do not cover the oven bottom with foil – it can restrict air circulation.
Never use gas ranges for home heating.
For more information:
- View an interactive suite of 16 electronic modules on consumer propane safety.
- Go to: National Propane Gas Association
Pressure Testing and System Checks
Accidents can result from the failure to perform complete system pressure tests from the propane tank to the system pilot orifices. Ag Plus must verify the integrity of the customer’s propane gas system with a pressure test and leak check as defined by NPGA Technical Assistance Bulletin T403, and document the results. The following situations call for a system check:
- New system or new customer
- Occupancy change
- System interruption (making repairs or modifications, changing regulators, turning off the gas, etc.) This includes any “Out of Gas” situations.
- Suspected leak
The following section from the National Fuel Gas Code describes the procedures to be followed by any qualified person servicing a system for gas utilization:
4.2 System and Equipment Leakage Test
4.2.1 Before Turning Gas On. Before gas is introduced into a system of new gas piping, or back into an existing system after being shut off, the entire system shall be inspected to determine that there are no open fittings or ends and that all manual valves on equipment are closed and all unused outlets are closed and plugged or capped.
4.2.2 Test for Leakage. Immediately after turning on the gas, the piping system shall be tested to ascertain that no gas is escaping. If leakage is indicated, the gas supply shall be shut off until necessary repairs have been made.
4.2.3 Placing Equipment in Operation. Gas utilization equipment shall be permitted to be placed in operation after the piping system has been tested and determined to be free of leakage and purged in accordance with 4.3.2.
Using Propane Tanks, Appliances, and Products Following Storm Damage or Flooding
Following key safety tips for propane products, appliances, and tanks could help alleviate potential risks associated with storm damage or flooding. Sixty million homeowners and businesses use propane to heat their water and homes, cook their meals, fuel their farm equipment and buildings, or simply fuel their gas grills. For those propane users affected by storm damage or flooding, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) in cooperation with the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) recommend the following steps to help ensure safe propane use.
AFTER THE STORM OR FLOOD:
- Propane appliances, farm equipment, or vehicles with controls or regulators that have been underwater should be inspected by your propane supplier before being put back into service. Since water damage to propane equipment and appliances is not always readily apparent, a complete inspection of the entire system before attempting to operate equipment is highly recommended.
- The number one problem created by flooding is water damage of regulators and controls. Such damage can cause blockage, corrosion, or other malfunctions of the key safety devices that are built into the system. In addition, dirt or debris may have entered the regulator through the vent. While this may not be an immediate threat, selected parts may need to be replaced to ensure the long-range safety of the equipment. Propane suppliers can also determine whether dents to the container or piping caused by flowing debris are serious enough to warrant equipment replacement.
- If your propane equipment has been flooded, and it is safe to do so, be sure to shut off the service valve(s) at the propane tank(s) if you have not already. This may be accomplished by turning the valve(s) in a clockwise direction. Be sure to have the system and appliances checked prior to turning on the gas supply again.
- In the rare case you smell gas upon returning to your home, business, or farm, follow these steps:
- 1. No flames or sparks. Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.
- 2. Leave the area immediately. Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
- 3. Shut off the gas. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
- 4. Report the leak. From a neighbor’s home or other nearby building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
- 5. Do not return to the building or area until your propane retailer determines that it is safe to do so.
- 6. Get your system checked. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.
- If severe flooding occurs and your tank shifts, becomes dislodged, or in the event that you find a tank on your property that does not belong to you, immediately call the fire department and/or your propane supplier.
While the effects of flooding can present potentially dangerous situations, following these recommendations will help reduce risks. For additional information on propane and/or flooding, contact your propane account manager.