What should I do if I smell gas?

 

How to recognize the smell of propane?

Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard.

TAKE THE SNIFF TEST. Teach everyone in your home or building what propane smells like. You can use the blue circle on the page opposite of the inside front cover. Or, ask your propane retailer for a demonstration.

CAN YOU SMELL IT?

 

 Facts about carbon monoxide (CO)

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE? Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; idling a gasoline engine; and burning fuel oil, wood, kerosene, natural gas, and propane all produce CO. High levels of CO can be produced when fuels are burned incompletely.

WHERE DO HIGH LEVELS OF CO COME FROM? High levels of CO can be generated by appliances that are defective or improperly installed or maintained. CO can also enter a home if an appliance venting system or chimney becomes blocked (for example, by a bird’s nest).

CO CAN BE DEADLY! High levels of CO can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms (see the list below). In extreme cases, high levels of or extended exposure to CO can result in brain damage or death. Young children; the elderly; people with heart disease; and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication are particularly susceptible to CO poisoning.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

CO DETECTORS CAN IMPROVE SAFETY. CO detectors are designed to sound an alarm when they sense excessive levels of CO in the air. We recommend that you consider installing a CO detector listed by UL on each level of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance. These devices can provide an extra measure of safety.

IF YOU SUSPECT CO IS PRESENT, ACT IMMEDIATELY!

TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF CO POISONING:

SIGNS OF IMPROPER APPLIANCE OPERATION THAT CAN GENERATE HIGH CO LEVELS:

 

 What should I do if my pilot light goes out?

IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT A QUALIFIED SERVICE TECHNICIAN LIGHT ANY PILOT LIGHT THAT HAS GONE OUT.

WHAT IS A PILOT LIGHT? Many propane appliances may have a pilot light—a small, constantly burning flame inside the appliance. (Appliances without a pilot light often have electronic ignition instead.) If your appliance has a pilot light, it is an important safety feature. The pilot light ignites the main burner when needed.

WHEN A PILOT LIGHT GOES OUT. A pilot light that repeatedly goes out—or is very difficult to light—may be signaling that there is a problem with the appliance or with your propane system. If this occurs, do not try to fix the problem yourself. Contact a qualified service technician to evaluate the appliance. Accidents and serious injuries can occur when customers attempt to fix a pilot light problem on their own.

IF YOU LIGHT A PILOT LIGHT YOURSELF, you are taking the risk of STARTING a fire or an explosion. Many serious injuries occur when people attempt to light pilot lights. Proceed with great caution and follow these rules:

Carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings concerning the appliance.

If the appliance is in a basement or closed room, thoroughly ventilate the area before lighting the pilot.

 

 How can I maintain my appliances?

MAINTENANCE IS IMPORTANT. All appliances using propane must be properly maintained in order to operate safely, properly, and efficiently.

LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS. Only a qualified service technician has the proper training to install, service, maintain, and repair your appliances. Make sure you have a qualified service technician install and service your appliances.

ANNUAL INSPECTION IS IMPORTANT. Contact a qualified service technician to perform an appliance inspection.

BE SURE YOUR APPLIANCES CAN “BREATHE” PROPERLY. Regularly check the vents of your appliances to be sure that flue gases can flow easily to the outdoors. Insects, birds, and small animals sometimes build nests in vent pipes. Other obstructions such as snow or ice may also occur. If you see evidence of this, call a qualified service technician. Also, clear the area around your appliance to be sure plenty of air can reach the burner for proper combustion.

NEVER store combustible materials near appliances.

WATCH FOR YELLOW FLAMES OR SOOT BUILD-UP. When appliances are operating properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames, or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment, the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas. Contact a qualified service technician if any of the above conditions occur.

 

 How can I keep my home safe when I am away for an extended period?

KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE WHEN YOU’RE AWAY. If you’re leaving your home for an extended period, consider closing all propane supply valves. This includes the main gas supply valve on the propane tank as well as gas supply valves located near individual appliances.

WHEN YOU RETURN to your home after an extended absence, contact your propane retailer or a qualified service technician to conduct a leak check before the propane is turned on and to re-light the pilot lights.

 

 What should I do if I have a problem with my propane appliances or equipment?

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES try to modify or repair valves, regulators, connectors, controls, or other appliance and cylinder/tank parts. Doing so creates the risk of a gas leak.

CALL AN EXPERT.  If you are unable to operate any part of your propane system, or if you think an appliance or other device is not operating properly, call your propane retailer or a qualified service technician. They can inspect, adjust, repair, or replace any part of your propane system.

YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED FOR SAFETY. Propane cylinders, tanks, and appliances incorporate special components (such as valves, connectors, controls, burners, and pilot lights) to keep them safe for use. Damaging these components can cause gas leaks.

 

How can I use a space heater saftely?

USE THE RIGHT KIND OF HEATER. Some propane space heaters are designed only for use outdoors. Others are designed only for use indoors. Check your owner’s manual or contact a qualified service technician to be sure you are using the right kind of heater.

DO NOT USE AN OUTDOOR HEATER INDOORS. High levels of CO can be generated from heaters that are not designed for indoor use. High levels of CO can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms. In extreme cases, extended exposure to CO can result in brain damage or death.

READ YOUR SPACE HEATER MANUAL. The appliance manufacturer’s manual that came with your space heater tells how to set up and operate it safely. Read the entire manual and carefully follow all directions.

 

Storm Safety

PROTECT YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM IF THE WEATHER TURNS BAD. Before, during, or after severe weather, you may need to take specific action to ensure the continued safe operation of your propane system.

WATER CAN DAMAGE YOUR PROPANE SYSTEM. If flooding is predicted for your area, turn off the gas valve at the cylinder or tank BEFORE the water rises. Do not turn the gas back on until the gas system and all appliances have been checked by a qualified service technician. AFTER A FLOOD, contact a qualified service technician to check your propane system and appliances. A qualified service technician will likely have to do some or all of the following:

CLEAR THE SNOW. You should clear heavy snow and ice from regulators, regulator vents, piping, tubing, and valves. Failure to do so can cause damage that could result in a gas leak. Appliance vents, chimneys, and flues also must be kept clear of snow and ice so appliances can vent properly. This is especially critical on the roofs of mobile homes. Clear snow carefully. Use a broom rather than a shovel to avoid damaging any components. Also, clear the walkway and tank area so that propane-company personnel have ready access to your tank.

WHAT IF SOMETHING DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT AFTER A STORM? If your tank has shifted position; gas lines are bent, broken, or damaged; or you see something else unusual about your system or appliance, turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. Then contact your propane retailer or a qualified service technician.