Natural Gas Safety
Natural gas is a safe and efficient energy source. However, there are several important facts that everyone in the public should be aware of.
What should I do if I suspect a gas leak?
Natural gas is a clear, flammable gas. It is mostly Methane and is lighter than air. Any gas leak is dangerous. We add a small amount of a smelly chemical to your natural gas to make leaks noticeable to you. If you suspect a gas leak, leave the area and call us immediately. We have service personnel on call at all times to respond to any emergency through our automated paging system.
How does natural gas get to my home?
We deliver your natural gas with underground pipelines. Pipelines are very reliable, efficient and safe as long as they are properly maintained and treated with respect. You may notice our personnel checking the pipeline for leaks with special detection equipment. We also check pipeline valves, markers, regulator stations, meters, etc. This is all necessary to maintain a safe pipeline. If you ever have questions, call 800-777-0659.
What should I do if I suspect there is a gas leak outside?
Gas leaks can occur on our pipelines due to failure or damage. If you see blowing gas, smell gas, notice dead vegetation over a gas line, or otherwise suspect a gas leak, evacuate the area and call us immediately at 800-777-0659 or dial 911. Gas leaks are dangerous to life and property. Leaking gas can ignite or cause an explosion. Do not enter any buildings near a leaking underground gas line. Leaking gas could migrate through a drain line, sewer line, conduit, or under pavement or concrete, make its way into the building, and cause an extremely dangerous situation.
What should I do to protect myself before I dig on my property?
Before you dig on your property, drive fence posts, ground rods, large stakes, etc, you must call 811 and have your utilities located. Once utilities have been marked, you must use extreme caution digging near them. Powered digging equipment may not be used within 2-feet of a buried gas line. Only careful hand digging is allowed. If you are using the services of a contractor to do any of this work on your property, make sure they call in for locates on your property before digging. Ask them for the "locate number" given out by IUPPS. Then, if you have any questions or concerns call us with the number and we can verify we have received a valid locate request and advise you as to when you may begin work. Remember, we are allowed 2 full working-days to get your locate done. That means if you call in a locate on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend, we have until Wednesday afternoon to locate your gas line. Plan ahead. Further, if you have any questions about our facilities later on, please call us. We can refresh the markings on any locate work we've done and answer any other questions that arise. Our number is 800-777-0659.
I'm going to dig, but I haven't had my utilities located. What should I expect?
Death, injury, severe property damage, loss of service, large bill: These are just some of the possible consequences of digging into a buried utility line, such as a gas line. Protect yourself! Call 811 at least 2 working days before you dig. It's the law. Surf to www.iupps.org for more information.
Where does my pipe begin and the gas company's pipe end?
All gas pipe after the meter belongs to you, the customer, and it is your responsibility to maintain it. If it is not maintained, it may be subject to the potential hazards of corrosion and leakage. Your buried pipe must be periodically inspected for leaks and corrosion. Any problems discovered must be repaired. If you require assistance, contact your local Plumbing or HVAC contractor. All natural gas piping in your home or other structure must be installed per applicable code and be proper for use with natural gas. If you have questions about the installation of any gas piping or appliances in your home or business, please give us a call.
What about Carbon Monoxide? What is it? Is it dangerous?
Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is a toxic gas created when fuel is burned without enough air. Improperly installed, broken, or poorly maintained gas fired equipment can cause CO to be released. Symptoms of CO poisoning can include headaches, nausea or dizziness. At higher concentrations, CO can be deadly. CO detectors are recommended. If you fear you have CO poisoning call 911 immediately.
What about the gas meter?
Do not block access to your gas meter. Fences with locked gates, aggressive dogs, overbuilding, large untrimmed bushes, etc., make it extremely tough on our service personnel. These problems can slow our response in an emergency. Please help us by keeping your meter easily accessible.
I'm adding a garage or addition on my house. What should I consider?
Your natural gas meter may not be overbuilt with a deck or addition that renders it inaccessible to gas company personnel for inspection or maintenance. It is especially important to insure that the meter valve is always accessible so that it can be used in an emergency to shut off the flow of gas through the meter. No enclosed addition or building may be built so that it blocks access to the meter OR is located over a gas service line or gas main. If your plans for a deck, home addition, garage, etc., are going to be near or over the meter or gas lines on your property, you must call the gas company to discuss what work will be required and what charges to expect before you begin construction. If this isn't done before construction, a building project may create a hazardous situation and it will eventually result in charges and/or loss of gas service to the customer to have the safety issue corrected.
You say above that gas piping on the customer side of the meter needs to be inspected periodically. What does that mean?
Customer gas lines must be properly maintained to prevent leaks or other problems from occurring. Generally that means that your piping should be protected from corrosion (by locating it inside or by keeping it painted to protect it from rusting), properly supported, installed in a workmanlike manner, and be properly sized and of the proper material for use with natural gas. The material issue is one we have had noted problems with in the last few years. Be aware that plastic pipe may NEVER be used on above ground or indoor natural gas piping. The ONLY plastic installations allowed are approved Polyethylene gas pipe (labeled "GAS" on the outside of the pipe, by the manufacturer) installed underground by qualified personnel. We recommend black steel (also known as "malleable iron") threaded piping for all above ground customer gas piping. While corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) is also allowed, code requires that it may only be installed by trained and qualified personnel, to the manufacturer's specifications which often include special electrical bonding requirements. Customer connections to the gas meter MUST be made with steel piping (NOT CSST!). Any customer piping noted that does not meet these requirements may result in natural gas service being discontinued until the situation is properly remedied by the customer or his or her plumber or HVAC professional.