Many people use gas to operate appliances around the home because it is relatively cheap, and reliable. But would you know what to do if there was a gas leak? Would you even know what to look out for to keep yourself and your family safe? In the spirit of gas safety, here are our top 10 gas safety tips.
1. Look out for warning signs
Be aware of any problems that your gas appliances might have. Check that the gas flame is blue and quick, and not yellow/orange and lazy. If your pilot light goes out a lot, you may have a problem that needs fixing by a qualified professional gas plumber.
2. Smells of rotten eggs
Gas is naturally odourless. Gas suppliers add a chemical to natural gas that gives it a rotten egg smell. If you smell rotten eggs in or around your home and know that you have gas, the first thing to do is not panic. In small to moderate amounts, gas is not toxic, but it can cause nausea, headaches and dizziness. If a room is filled with gas, however, it can cause breathing difficulties and asphyxiation. In most leak situations, there is enough ventilation for this not to be a problem.
If you have identified the smell as leaking gas, here is what you should do.
- Open as many doors and windows as you can to provide ventilation.
- Make sure that there are no naked flames and don’t light a match, candle or cigarette.
- There is no need to worry about turning off electrical appliances.
- Turn off the appliance that you think is leaking the gas.
- Organise a gas plumber to assess and repair the problem as soon as possible.
It’s a good idea to have a licensed gasfitter come out to check your appliances and gas piping each year for any leaks or damage. Maintenance of your gas plumbing helps to keep everything safe and sound as well as keep your running costs down.
Maintenance should be undertaken at least every 2 years.
4. Install alarms
You can actually have a gas alarm fitted in your home that is similar to a smoke alarm. It will detect a gas leak and produce a loud sound. This type of alarm is known as a carbon monoxide alarm.
High levels of carbon monoxide can occur when an appliance is faulty, poorly maintained or not installed properly. It can also occur if there is a blockage in the flue – a duct or pipe exhaust for waste gases.
5. Don’t touch
Never play around with the gas piping in or outside the home. The same goes for the gas inlet system outside the home. If you have children, make sure that this rule is drilled into them. Parental supervision is key.
6. Safe excavation
If you are digging up ground in or around your home and you have gas installed, you really need to check that it is safe to do so first. Damaging or disrupting gas piping can cause injury and serious harm. This also applies to gardening and possibly damaging nearby gas pipes.
7. Operate safely
Always operate your gas appliances safely and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Never dismantle any part of a gas appliance or use it in a way that is contrary to its intended use.
If you are in the kitchen and you are cooking, make sure that you don’t leave flammable objects around the gas flame. Never leave anything unattended on your gas stovetop.
9. Know when to call the plumber
There are several situations that require an urgent call to the gasfitter.
If you smell gas in your home, a gas leak is a probable reason. Immediately turn off your gas supply and call the fitter to have a thorough check done.
Yellow or red flames
As mentioned above, when working correctly, burner flames are blue. A yellow or red flame warrants a call to the gasfitter.
If the flue pipes are blocked or your heater is not working properly, harmful gases (including carbon monoxide) might accumulate inside your house. Tiredness, breathlessness, sleepiness, confusion, dizziness, headaches, nausea – there is a long list of symptoms for gas poisoning.
If you suspect a heater problem, turn it off immediately. Open all windows and leave the house to avoid inhaling it further. Then, call the gas plumber.
Appearance of flame for radiant gas heaters
For a correctly functioning radiant gas heater, the visible flame should cover the tile surface. If the flame extends beyond the immediate tile surface, it could be faulty. This could also lead to carbon monoxide emission and gas poisoning, so turn it off immediately and call the gasfitter.
10. Clean and clear obstructions
Make sure that there is no rubbish or other detritus piled up around any of the gas appliances and gas piping inside or outside the home.
General tips to carry out cleaning on your gas appliances
Ovens, Cooktops and Rangehoods
Cleaning these areas is vital to ensure that you are preparing food hygienically. Grime from food scraps will build up on appliances, creating a health risk and even affecting the taste of the food. So getting them cleaned correctly is a must. Your cleaning regime should include:
- Remove food particles and dust. Use warm soapy water to clean all surface areas and the griller area.
- Check oven door seals to make sure that hot air is not being lost while cooking.
Gas heaters need to be assessed annually. Well maintained gas heaters are quite safe, but if they do malfunction, they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, so maintenance of these appliances is essential. Some things to check during your annual clean include:
- Check and clean all filters.
- Check all leads and hoses for leaks and signs of corrosion.
- Clean your heater with soapy water prior to using it in the winter months. This will remove any dust build up that could impact upon the performance of your heater.
Over the winter months, your barbecue will have built up some residual dust and dirt.
- Clean all hot plates with warm soapy water.
- Check gas bottle hoses for leaks by coating them with warm soapy water and looking for air bubbles.
- Replace the drip tray if necessary.
Hot water systems
A quick check of your hot water service may prevent an unpleasant surprise.
- Check the thermostat settings. Make sure that your thermostat is set between 49 and 60 degrees – any higher and you are risking using excess energy as well as increasing the risk of scalding.
- Drain a few litres of hot water from your hot water tank using the safety valve. This will prevent the build-up of sediment in the tank and help prevent corrosion.
- Check that the burner flame is blue. If it is burning yellow, you need a gas fitter to check why it is burning incorrectly.
Adopting these tips is an important habit to develop and making this process part of your everyday living is vital for safety and efficiency.
To learn more about what you can do about a suspected gas leak or damage to a gas installation, we invite you to call JEDI Plumbing today. Our friendly northern Sydney team is on hand to discuss all your plumbing needs and can provide you with professional options to consider.