Gas Explosion Hazards in Your Home

Whether you’re firing up the grill or turning on the oven, some of your home appliances come with potential explosion hazards. Natural gas and propane – two highly flammable materials – have these risks associated with them, especially when they leak. Believe it or not, something so commonplace is behind about 3,000 calls to the fire department per year.
Appliances are not the only source of residential explosions. Statistically, just over half of all U.S. households use natural gas as a heating or power source. In 2015, natural gas generated close to a third of all power in the country.
While heating and cooking in our homes are both essential, using gas adds a degree of risk. In fact, an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning can happen from something as simple as:

  • Incorrectly installing an appliance
  • A leaking hose
  • Worn-away or aging valves, pipelines and transmission lines
  • Damage from digging in the area

To prevent a fire, serious injury or explosion, keep the following tips in mind.

  1. Never Dig Without Turning the Gas Off

When doing yard work, have these sources turned off beforehand, instead of digging around a power or gas line. Otherwise, you could end up releasing extremely flammable gas into the air.
Your septic tank, as well as any cesspool or dry well, has similar risks. Should you dig into it, you may end up releasing methane gas, known for explosive properties and asphyxiation hazards. Before you start an outdoor project, know where the tank is located and mark off the surrounding area.

  1. Gas Is Not Easy to Detect

By nature, gas is odorless and colorless. For household substances, a chemical odor-ant – one that gives natural gas a smell – gets added for easy detection. But, should it get released into the air, anything as minor as turning on your phone or a light switch could possibly ignite it.
When you cannot detect an odor, there is potential for natural gas to accumulate in your building from several sources. These may include:

  • Gas from the sewer and plumbing leaks
  • Gas from a nearby swamp
  • Fuel
  • Leaking piping

To detect these “odorless” gases, install a carbon monoxide detector and have your appliances inspected for leaks and connections at least once per year. Certain detectors may sound an alarm, shut off gas valves in your home and turn on a ventilation fan.
Your home is not the only place for undetectable gas. Underground gas leaks can and do happen, and certain soil types manage to mask or change the familiar odor. As a sign, look for dead plants among fresh vegetation or circular burn patterns on your lawn.

  1. Know the Hazards of Propane

Propane has similar hazards as natural gas – and a few more. Particularly, it’s a heavier substance and settles close to the ground. As a result, any tanks or grills you use should be kept at least three feet away from any buildings, per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. Otherwise, the propane gas may settle in your basement. Additionally, check for leaks at the start of the season and when you get your tank refilled.

  1. Risks After Natural Disasters

After major flooding or an earthquake, you have more to worry about than your initial distress: a gas explosion. Should you enter without shutting the gas line off, your home has greater collapse, explosion and fire hazards than when you last left it, particularly if the incident moved it off its foundation. This occurrence has potential to rupture, loosen or break gas piping.
As a strategy, never turn your electricity back on following a natural disaster. Instead of a switch or plug-in light, assess your home with a sealed flashlight. Furthermore, have the home reviewed for gas leaks by a professional before you move back in.
Do you have enough coverage, should a gas leak and subsequent damage occur at your home? To discuss your homeowner’s policy and the coverage it offers, give Ion Insurance a call at 203.439.2815.