There have been multiple gas leaks along The Jersey Shore this Spring, some with major explosions including the one in Manahawkin, that literally leveled a single-family residence. Couple those incidents with the explosion in NYC last week and this becomes an issue of concern for all home-owners.
Gas comes into your from the outside, and a maze of piping crisscrosses under your home to connect the appliances to the source. Leaks can develop in corroded pipes but are most often caused by contractors or homeowners using excavation equipment. During cold weather, frost can penetrate deep into the ground and shift the earth around mains to cause hairline fractures. Other cracks can form at joints where service lines to homes or businesses join mains.
If you smell gas, get out immediately. Then call emergency services.
But there are two main things you can do BEFORE there is gas leaking. If you have any suspicions about your gas service lines, piping tanks or anything else, get an inspection. Make sure that the person you select is qualified to do the work.
The second most important thing to do is make sure that your contractor pulls a permit from the local government agencies and follows all state regulations as listed in the NJ State Code specifications.
Ways to Detect a Natural Gas Leak
Smell – since natural gas has no scent, a strong odorant that smells like rotten eggs is added to help you detect possible leaks.
However, never rely solely on your sense of smell to determine if a natural gas leak exists or if natural gas is present. Some people may not be able to detect the odorant because they have a diminished sense of smell or olfactory fatigue, or because the odor is being masked by other scents in the area. In addition, certain conditions in the pipe and soil may cause the odorant to diminish so that it is not detectable.
Other Signs of a Potential Natural Gas Leak
Sight – look for dirt blowing into the air, persistent bubbling in standing water, or discolored or dead vegetation around the pipeline area.
Sound – listen for any unusual hissing or roaring sound.
If you smell or suspect a natural gas leak...DON'T DELAY - GET AWAY
Evacuate everyone from the building or site immediately, then dial 911 and call NJNG from a safe location at 800-GAS-LEAK (427-5325). Let us know where you are. DO NOT USE A PHONE NEAR THE GAS LEAK
Remember if you smell gas:
Remove any cigarettes or other smoking materials from the area, and then extinguish them.
Do NOT use matches, lighters or other open flames or activate light switches, electrical appliances, flashlights, doorbells or even garage door openers, as they could create a spark.
Do NOT use telephones (cellular included) on the premises where the leak is suspected. Phones can create a spark.
Do not re-enter the building until NJNG has declared it to be safe.
In a related story: Ocean County’s state legislators have proposed a bill that would require homes to have explosive gas sensors installed. The proposal comes after two explosions leveled homes in Point Pleasant Beach and Stafford Township over the past few weeks. According to the joint statement by state Sen. James Holzapfel, and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (all R-Ocean), explosive gas sensors alert residents to the presence of dangerous quantities of methane or propane gas in the air. Methane is the primary component of natural gas used to fuel many furnaces, hot water heaters, fireplaces, stoves and ovens.
The units look like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Combination units that detect both carbon monoxide and explosive gases can be purchased for about $40, the legislators said.
Under the proposed law, a new requirement for the use of explosive gas detectors would mirror similar existing requirements for carbon monoxide detectors. The legislation allows for the use of a single device that can detect both carbon monoxide and explosive gases to satisfy both requirements. The legislation requires single and two family homes to be inspected for the presence of an explosive gas sensor prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. There would be no need to install a gas detector if it has been determined that no potential explosive gas risk exists. Likewise, every unit in a hotel or multiple dwelling would be required to have explosive gas detectors installed.
Bottom Line: If you smell gas, act fast. Get away from the area and call emergency services!
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