Safely using natural gas in the home

Safely using natural gas in the home

9 tips and a video: Look for consistent, blue flame

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Natural gas is a safe and efficient fuel. To keep natural gas operating at peak efficiency, a little housekeeping is in order. Appliances need to be checked and proper airflow maintained.

Tim Terry, a natural gas technical trainer at Duke Energy, has conducted more than 55 natural gas demonstrations to first responders, community groups, school classes and co-workers. He recently presented at Duke Energy’s operations center in Erlanger, Ky., as part of a safety training day. Terry also discussed propane and gasoline storage.

Here are some tips Terry covered during the presentation:

  • Always look for a smooth, tight, blue flame. This is the hottest flame and indicates that nothing is obstructing the flow of gas.

  • An irregular, orange flame indicates incomplete combustion, where the appropriate gas/air mixture for complete combustion is altered. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion.

  • Soot buildup also indicates incomplete combustion. Carbon builds up on the inside of pipes, vents and flues, which can cause chimney fires along with obstruction of the pipes. Have heating equipment inspected and serviced yearly by a certified heating contractor.

  • 1_dont-miss-a-thing-button2High-efficiency furnaces have air piped directly into the combustion chamber to enhance the fuel burn, which prevents carbon monoxide buildup. Never cover this intake pipe. Carbon monoxide can also occur from fuel sources of oil, coal and wood.

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of a home. As many as a quarter of the patients who go to hospital emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms may actually have been exposed to CO.

  • NaturalGasSafetyInfographicVisual
    Review this infographic to understand the signs of a natural gas leak and what actions to take if you suspect a leak.

    Never use a grill inside a garage, basement or closed-in area.

  • Propane is an excellent heating and cooking source. However, unlike natural gas, which is lighter than air, propane is heavier than air. If there is a leak, it can accumulate on the ground, and it does not easily dissipate. Only store and use propane tanks outside the home.

  • Vapors from gasoline can be a potential ignition source. Never store gas cans inside the home or basement. It’s recommended that consumers spend more for a metal gasoline container with a flame arrestor, which prevents open flames from igniting the gasoline vapors.

  • Exercise care when using aerosol cans or hand sanitizers containing alcohol. These can build up on skin and ignite from matches and lighters or near campfires.

For more safety tips: duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/natural-gas-safety.

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