In the world of residential and commercial fuels, propane’s safety record is hard to beat, thanks in large part to the National Propane Gas Association’s tight safety standards, which address a range of topics including running fuel lines, filling portable cylinders, installing propane tanks and hooking up appliances.
Once in a while you’ll receive mailings from your propane company, explaining what to do if you smell gas. These materials will also discuss propane gas detectors, general appliance safety tips, carbon monoxide safety and more.
Smell gas? Here’s what to do (and what not to do)
In order to alert homeowners of a gas leak, manufacturers add an odor to propane. The smell, comparable to a skunk’s spray, rotten eggs or a dead animal, is sure to catch your attention.
It’s important that everyone in the home can recognize the smell. However, if you are concerned that you or others in your home may not be able to identify this smell, you will want to install one or more propane gas detectors.
If you smell propane at home or at work, here’s what to do:
- DO attempt to shut off the valves at the tank if you feel it is safe to do so.
- DO make sure everyone leaves the home and gets away from nearby areas.
- DO place a call to your propane supplier and to the fire department. (Make this call off the premises.)
And here’s what not to do:
- DO NOT use a phone from inside the home or in nearby areas. Leave the area to make your call.
- DO NOT light matches anywhere inside or near the home.
- DO NOT try to repair your appliance or relight the pilot.
- DO NOT try to locate the leak.
- DO NOT use light switches inside the home.
- DO NOT return to the building or area until you have received instructions from responders to do so.
Keep your appliances working
Even though you know propane is one of the safest fuels for your New York home, it’s critical that you pay close attention to how your gas appliances are operating. Following the manufacturer’s suggestions for preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure that your appliances will keep working as they should. Your owner’s manual can provide the specifics of what’s required.
Appliance safety tips
A blue flame indicates that the propane for your gas appliance is operating properly. If you notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment, or if the flames are yellow, the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide. Contact your propane company for service if you notice a yellow flame or soot on your appliances.
Be sure to make a habit of checking your appliances’ outdoor vents – you want to ensure combustion gases flow to the outdoors, unobstructed. Small animals, birds and insects sometimes nest in vent pipes, which can cause damage. If you suspect this is happening in your vents, gently remove obstructions using a soft brush or a broom.
Leave propane repairs to the experts
In recent years, we’ve become accustomed to solving home-repair challenges with the help of YouTube and other do-it-yourself resources. While many websites seem like quick-fix ways to get repair tips for your New York home, there’s simply more to consider.
What those resources may not cover is how to handle a situation where an amateur repair doesn’t go as planned. When it comes to gas appliances, it’s important to avoid costly—and even dangerous consequences.
In most cases, propane repairs present unique challenges that are best left to individuals with extensive training and expensive diagnostic equipment.
If you attempt to fix or modify a propane appliance without proper training, you can cause severe damage and lead to dangers like explosions or carbon monoxide leaks.
Keep in mind: If you need a propane repair, don’t attempt to do it yourself–contact your local propane professional. They have the experience, tools and training to find and fix your problem correctly, quickly and safely so you can focus on the things that matter in your life – like having fun with your family.
Stay safe in your New York home
- Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors on each level of your home.
- Be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations for placement and maintenance.
- Perform an annual test your CO detectors.
- Replace batteries at the beginning of each heating season. Make a note to fully replace the unit every five or 10 years, depending on the unit you have.
- For those with a propane backup generator, check that you have enough fuel to last for a week or more if a power outage occurs. Run the generator once in a while to check that it is operating properly. This will also help maintain lubrication on critical moving parts.
Under dangerous weather circumstances
- Be sure to adhere to any local instructions from the authorities regarding evacuations and shelter-in-place emergencies.
- Do not attempt to operate propane equipment if you suspect that it has been damaged or is not working properly. Instead, set up a repair to take place immediately.
- After a storm, clear debris from vents, chimneys and flues after a storm to prevent a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide. Maintain a cleared path to your propane tank. This will ensure efficient deliveries.
- Reminder: Safety codes require you to call in a licensed professional to restart your system if your gas supply is shut down for any reason.