Propane has a distinct edge over natural gas because of the way it’s transported and stored. After propane gets compressed into a liquid, becoming what’s called liquid petroleum gas (LPG), all of it gets stored inside large tanks until the local propane company delivers it to the on-site supply tank at a home or a business.
Liquid propane changes to gas before it leaves the on-site storage tank, getting released slowly and safely through pressure regulators. Compare that to the delivery system of natural gas. If an underground natural gas pipeline gets damaged—or other problems occur—hundreds and even thousands of customers may lose their supply until repairs are done.
So without question, propane is one of the safest fuels you can choose for your New York home. But to stay as safe as possible, you should always pay close attention to the operation of your gas appliances. The best way to keep all your propane equipment running properly is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preventive maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manuals for what’s required.
Besides making sure you remain diligent about getting a professional evaluation of your appliances done, there are a number of safety tips you can follow on your own.
Advice from the Propane Education and Research Council
- Propane smells like rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray. Propane manufacturers add this smell to help alert consumers to propane leaks. If you have someone living in your household with a diminished sense of smell (elderly relative, etc.), look into purchasing a propane gas detector as an additional measure of security.Read more about what to do if you smell gas here.
- When appliances operate properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames—or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment–the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide. Contact your propane service provider if you notice a yellow flame or soot on your appliances.
- If you need to move an appliance, contact your propane supplier or a trained professional to do this work. This is not a do-it-yourself task—you may inadvertently damage the gas connector. Older connectors can easily crack if twisted, which can lead to a gas leak.
- Any time you disconnect and then reconnect an appliance, a leak test must be performed to ensure that the fittings are secure. For the sake of safety, if you are renovating or otherwise need to move your gas appliances, please speak with your propane supplier first.
- Regularly check the outdoor vents of your appliances to make sure combustion gases flow unobstructed to the outdoors. Insects, birds and small animals have been known to build nests in vent pipes. To prevent any damage, use a broom or a soft brush to gently remove any obstructions you find in your vents.
More tips to keep your New York home safe
- Make sure that carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are installed on every level of your home, following manufacturer’s recommendations for placement and maintenance. Test your CO detectors every year, and replace batteries at the beginning of each heating season (you should replace the whole unit every five or 10 years, depending on the unit you have).
- If you have a propane backup generator, make sure it has enough fuel to run for at least a week in the event of a power outage. Run your generator periodically to make sure it is operating properly. This will also help critical moving parts remain lubricated.
Read more propane safety tips.