National Fire Prevention Week is an annual event, taking place from October 7-13. We take this week very seriously here at Ram Plumbing. While we all may know a bit about fire prevention thanks to school fire drills and local seminars at the firehouse and the local library, but most people don’t take fire prevention seriously until it’s too late. Most folks tend to focus on things like changing smoke detector batteries and keeping candles away from the curtains but may not be aware of invisible fire risks such as problems with your gas line. It’s these invisible issues that can pose the most serious risks of fire at your home or place of business.
Why are Gas Lines a Potential Fire Risk?
Preventing gas leaks may seem easy on the surface. You may assume the risk of fire isn’t very high since your gas lines are hidden away and seemingly not close to sparks or open flames. The truth is, however, that any damage to your gas lines can make it easy for gas to escape. As this gas enters the air, even as a slow leak, it can become ignited by everyday items in your home. Think about the ignition of the pilot light on your water heater or the spark when you light the stove. Depending on the amount of gas in the air and the nature of the leak, a problem such as this can cause an intense fire or a powerful explosion that could level your home in seconds.
While fire isn’t the only risk of problems with your gas line, most people aren’t aware that too much natural gas in the air can cause oxygen deprivation and lead to severe sickness, injury, and even death. If that natural gas is partially burned, it can also saturate the air with carbon monoxide. Ultimately, strong gas lines are vital to the health and safety of you and your loved ones. If you think you might have an issue in your home or smell a possible gas leak, having your gas line inspected is critical.
Common Causes of Gas Leaks
How do these types of gas line problems occur? You wouldn’t expect much strenuous daily activity around your gas pipes and gas line, right? Yes, these gas lines may be used often, but it isn’t as though that activity poses the risk of damaging them. So, what can potentially cause gas leaks?
Issues with Fittings and Connections:
The term “fittings” when it comes to your gas lines refers to the pipes, valves, and meters that move natural gas from your tank or main supply to the appliances that require it. Connections are essentially the joints that bring the fittings together with the appliances. Poor installation or low-quality fittings may have rapid breakdown, which may result in dangerous leaks. Even the best products and installation will have problems eventually and will need repairs, so routine inspections and maintenance are of the utmost importance.
Lack of Appliance Maintenance:
All appliances will eventually begin to have issues as they age, with parts breaking down and in need of repair or replacement. This is true for all components of an appliance, including its natural gas connection. With proper maintenance, however, breakdown can be avoided before serious issues occur. Consult your appliance manuals to see how often maintenance should be performed, or as an alternative, have appliance repair professionals perform a maintenance routine on all appliances once a year.
Sometimes you can do everything right, but the appliance still has a problem either at the connection or in other parts that interact with the fuel source. This can occur in appliances of any age, including top-of-the-line models. As such, never just assume that you’re safe based on the age or brand of appliance.
Damage to the Gas Pipes:
The material used in gas pipes is meant to last decades, but not all pipes will meet that average lifespan. If the lines are improperly installed, they can become damaged or wear out quickly. They can also be harmed due to events such as earthquakes or construction projects. Any damage to a gas pipe has the potential to become deadly, so be sure to have your pipes inspected if there’s any reason to be concerned.
Signs to Look For
Knowing what can cause gas line leaks is important, but it’s just as important to know how to spot the signs of a gas leak. Keep in mind that signs of a problem aren’t always clear. For some homeowners, a fire may be the first sign that something is amiss. The following items may also signal that there could be a gas leak in your home:
- An unexplained increase in your gas bill
- Persistent nausea
- Unexplained, frequent headaches
- The smell of sulfur in and around your home
- Changes in breathing, such as shallow breathing or struggling to catch your breath
- Chest pains
- Changes in mood, including depression
- Reduced appetite
- Feeling generally under the weather
- A sensation of being dizzy or lightheaded on a frequent basis
- Plants or small animals, such as birds, dying inside the home without explanation
- A hissing sound coming from your gas pipes
Preventing Gas Line Leaks from Occurring
The best-case scenario is to prevent gas leaks from ever occurring. How can you accomplish this? Overall, preventing gas leaks is pretty simple.
- If you’re building your home, turn to professionals when it comes to installing your gas lines. Most plumbing service businesses can do this for you, including Ram Plumbing.
- Follow a proper appliance maintenance schedule.
- After events that could damage your gas lines—such as an earthquake or construction, have them inspected.
- Have your Tucson plumber inspect your gas lines at least once a year. Fire Prevention Week is a great time to schedule this service. Should you need to call them for other services during the year, be sure to ask them to take a look at your gas lines while they’re there.
What to do if There Is a Gas Leak
If you notice signs of a gas leak, be sure to act quickly. Fire prevention is the primary focus for the safety of your home and its inhabitants. First, avoid the use of flames of any kind. Secondly, shut off the valve of your gas line, just to be safe. Third, turn off the electricity to your home in order to prevent electrical sparks from igniting any remaining gas. Finally, go outside of the home, put distance between it and yourself, and call emergency services for assistance. If possible, alert your neighbors as well, as they may also be at risk in the event of an explosion.
The chances of a gas emergency are pretty slim, but it’s important to put safety first and always be aware of the condition of your gas lines and appliances at home. If it’s time for a gas line inspection in Tucson, be sure to contact us to schedule your maintenance service as part of your home fire prevention strategy. We’re here when you need us.