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Fire Restoration Q&A: What You Need to Know about Natural Gas Safety

Learn from our fire restoration team on how to handle natural gas and propane safely.

Learn from our fire restoration team on how to handle natural gas and propane safely.

It’s the season for grilling steaks on the barbecue and lighting up those gas fire pits in the backyard. Whether you cook with gas or use it as an energy source to heat your water and home, it’s essential to understand the associated risks. Typically safe when used correctly, natural gas and propane can cause the need for extensive fire restoration services if mishandled, while inhaling carbon monoxide from a gas leak can cause both injury and death. Read our Q&A and learn how to handle natural gas with care.

Is there a difference between natural gas and propane gas?

Made of mostly methane that has been pressurized into a liquid, natural gas consists of other gases that include hydrocarbons such as propane, butane, and ethane. Propane delivers more BTUs (British thermal units) than natural gas and tends to be less expensive. Both gases are said to burn “cleanly,” however, propane has a more explosive risk than natural gas, as it is heavier than air, while natural gas rises

What is gas typically used for in a home?

A fossil fuel, natural gas is typically piped into a home and used for heating and providing energy to large appliances such as water heaters, cook ranges, dryers, furnaces, air conditioners, and natural gas fireplaces. Propane typically is used to power small devices such as barbecues, lawnmowers, and space heaters. However, it can also be used as a fuel source in large combustible engines.

What are the risks associated with natural gas or propane leaks in the home?

Fire is one of the dangers of natural gas and propane, as both are highly flammable. A fire caused by a natural gas or propane explosion can lead to extensive fire damage restoration and smoke clean up. Natural gas and propane are also toxic as they release carbon monoxide (CO) when burned. Long-term exposure from a leak can lead to severe health risks, including:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Memory issues
  • Muscle loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Suffocation

Do propane and natural gas have an odour?

While odourless and colourless in their natural state, natural gas and propane can smell like rotten eggs when mercaptan (methanethiol) or other additives are added to the gas. Most gas companies add these additives to their products so that natural gas and propane can be easily detected if a leak occurs.

What are some other ways to detect a natural gas or propane leak?

Besides the smell, you can detect a gas leak by installing a carbon monoxide detector. Learn more about by reading Why You Need Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in your Home. Another way to check your propane tank for leaks is by applying a leak detector solution or soapy water to the tank cylinder valve connected to the regulator outlet. Open the cylinder valve. If bubbles form, that indicates a leak.

What can I do to prevent gas leaks and CO exposure at my home and property?

There are several things you can do to make your home and property safe from potential gas leaks:

  • Regularly maintain your gas and heating appliances
  • Keep the area around your gas meter and lines clear
  • Call your gas company before you dig or do any clearing in your yard
  • Never use gas appliances in an enclosed space
  • Do not idle vehicles inside your garage
  • Replace your furnace filter regularly
  • Check pipes, ducts, and vents to make sure they are attached properly

What should I do if I detect a natural gas leak?

If you detect a gas leak inside or outside your home:

  • Stop what you’re doing and do not ignite any fire source such as a match or lighter
  • Leave your doors and windows open and vacate the premises immediately
  • Call 911
  • Do not re-enter the home until it is deemed safe to do so.

If you’ve experienced a fire due to a gas leak, contact Fort McMurray property damage restoration company Proserve DKI for emergency fire and smoke damage restoration and fire clean up.