Natural gas is clean, efficient and versatile, and used to heat more homes nationwide than all other heating fuels combined. Although accidents with natural gas are rare, Central Hudson urges its customers to learn all they can about safety guidelines when using natural gas.
Natural gas is delivered to homes and businesses through a network of underground pipes and lines. The pipes delivering natural gas from its source to large regions are called transmission lines, and often run along rights-of-way through rural and suburban areas. Branches off these transmission lines terminate at natural gas gate stations, where the pressure is reduced and the gas is diverted into local distribution mains. These mains usually run along streets and roadways, providing gas service to neighborhoods and commercial districts. Service lines from these mains bring natural gas to individual homes and businesses. A gas meter separates the service line from the home, and the natural gas is distributed to the individual appliances by indoor piping. Be sure your piping has been tested and meets all local and utility codes. Click here to learn more about Central Hudson's natural gas pipeline safety program, and/or visit the Northeast Gas Association or see our brochure, Natural Gas Pipeline Safety - What You Need to Know.
Remember that build-up of snow and ice must be cleared from exhaust and combustion air vents and chimneys to prevent a potentially lethal buildup of carbon monoxide. Also, for your safety, be sure to clear snow and ice from natural gas meters, regulators and other natural gas equipment.
Read this advisory from the Northeast Gas Association for additional safety reminders about clearing snow and ice.
Natural gas is colorless and odorless, so an odorant, called mercaptan (which has a "rotten egg" smell), is added so that natural gas can be easily detected in the event of a leak. Natural gas is lighter than air, and when outdoors can dissipate quickly. However, when indoors, escaping natural gas can collect in an area within the home and create a hazard.
Natural gas requires a specific amount of oxygen in order to burn – and is combustible only when there is 5 to 15 percent ratio of natural gas to air (more or less air results in no combustion).
Natural gas also has a higher combustion temperature than most fuels. When adjusted properly, natural gas appliances produce flames which are mostly blue, indicating that the fuel is burning efficiently and has the correct fuel-to-air ratio.
If you think you smell natural gas, don't light or use a match, turn lights on or off, use a flashlight, cell phone, telephone, flush or run water, or turn on or off any other appliance or electric/electronic device. Leave the building immediately and call Central Hudson as soon as possible at (800) 942-8274. This number is ONLY to be used to report gas odors.
In most cases, if a problem exists in the natural gas service line or meter, it is Central Hudson's responsibility to repair. All natural gas piping from the meter into your home and inside your home, as well as your natural gas appliances, are the homeowner's responsibility.
- Planning an addition or pool? Installing a fence or new mailbox? Before digging or excavating, call the Dig Safely New York hotline at 1-800-962-7962, or dial 811 at least two but no more than 10 full working days in advance, so the location of all nearby utility services – gas, electric, and communications lines – can be made.
- Buried natural gas lines require inspection, maintenance, and repair. In New York State, the gas utility is also responsible for performing a leak survey for all known buried gas lines past the meter and owned by the customer. If you have buried gas lines on your property beyond the meter, it is your responsibility to let Central Hudson Gas & Electric know that these lines exist. If leaks are discovered on these lines, it is your responsibility to have them repaired.
- Teach children never to light or play with natural gas appliances, and to stay away from natural gas meters. Also, children should not pull or hang on natural gas piping (nor should adults hang anything on these pipes).
- Don't use a gas oven or range for space heating or for any other purpose than that for which it was designed.
- For safety and for efficiency, gas appliances, such as kitchen stoves and gas fireplaces, should be inspected and cleaned periodically, and their gas connections should be inspected as well.
- Keep paints, thinners, gasoline, oils, aerosol sprays, boxes, papers and other flammable or combustible materials away from natural gas appliances, including water heaters, furnaces/boilers and other natural gas appliances. Vapors from flammable liquids are typically heavier than air, and can ignite when exposed to an open flame – such as pilot lights or operating heating appliances. Keep flammable solvents and liquids in fireproof cabinets, even if you do not consider them to be in a location near your natural gas appliance.
- Do not refuel lawnmowers or other power tools with gasoline, and do not clean brushes or tools with solvents, when near a heating appliance or any source of flame. Spills can spread and vapors can ignite quickly.
- When purchasing natural gas appliances, look for the seal of a national testing agency, such as the American Gas Association (AGA) or the Underwriters' Laboratory (UL).
- When moving appliances - particularly natural gas - use safety and common sense to guard against disruption of the connection to the gas supply line.
- When moving gas appliances for any reason, be sure that the natural gas connection has been properly shut off, and capped or disconnected.
- Prevent scalding by checking the temperature setting on water heaters and making an adjustment if set too high. A temperature setting of
120-125° F is usually recommended. Scalding hot water can cause harm, especially to infants and the elderly.
- Recognize that the burning of any fuel can create carbon monoxide. Heating systems and chimney flues should be serviced by professionals to ensure their safe and proper operation, and as an added measure, homeowners should install carbon monoxide detectors, which are required by New York State in newly constructed dwellings or existing buildings offered for sale.
Gas connectors are corrugated metal tubes used to connect gas appliances in your home to fuel gas supply pipes. Some older brass connectors have a serious flaw in how their tubing was joined to their end pieces. Over time, the end pieces can separate from the tubing, and cause a serious gas leak, explosion, or fire. To our knowledge, these dangerous uncoated brass connectors have not been made for more than 20 years, but many of them are still in use. The older these connectors get the greater the possibility of failure.
Although not all uncoated connectors have this flaw, it is very difficult to tell which ones do. Therefore, any uncoated brass connector should be replaced immediately with a new stainless steel connector. Connectors can wear out from too much moving, bending or corrosion. Connectors should always be replaced whenever the appliance is replaced or moved from its location.
Moving the appliance, even slightly, whether to clean behind it or to inspect its gas connector can cause the complete failure of one of these older weakened connectors.
Code requires that a new gas appliance connector must be used for a new appliance, when moving an appliance to a new location, or as a result of damage. Again, we highly recommend that you immediately replace any uncoated brass connectors with a quality stainless steel or brand new, coated connector.
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