Understanding the dangers of gas leaks
We occasionally learn of gas explosions in the news, whether it be at a private residence or place of business. Often times the structure is left in ruins. Too often human lives are lost. Some explosions affect large surrounding areas – not just the home where the explosion originated. Recently, a house explosion in Texas leveled a house, killing an occupant, and shook homes miles away. The cause of the explosion is suspected to be the result of a propane leak in a water heater that somehow ignited. So, what causes accidental gas explosions and how can we as homeowners and building owners reduce the chances of this catastrophe?
Most of us use natural gas or propane every day in our homes or workplace. It heats our water and our spaces, and provides the fuel for our cooking appliances. Regardless of how often we use gas, it’s important to remember that it is highly combustible and if it leaks, it can be very dangerous.
A gas explosion occurs when there is a gas leak in the presence of a spark or flame. Gases such as natural gas, methane, propane and butane are the most common types of gases to cause explosions because they are commonly used for heating purposes. Some gas explosions are minor, with the increase in pressure not generating enough force to damage anything, while other gas explosions can cause injury, damage to property, even death.
Some common causes include:
- Improper use of gas furnaces, stoves or other gas appliances.
- Gas appliances that have been poorly or incorrectly installed.
- Old, rusty gas lines or ones that are damaged that run from the street into your home.
- Defective gas-operated equipment.
- Faulty manufacturing of gas tanks in cars or trucks.
Your best course of prevention is to know and trust your home is safe by having your systems checked regularly by a professional. According to Keith Hill of Minnesota Air, “It’s not a bad idea to have a professional check all gas-burning appliances once every couple of years to make sure they are venting properly and aren’t emitting any carbon monoxide (CO).”
Older homes with older HVAC systems tend to have a greater incidence of gas leaks. If you suspect any of your systems have been damaged somehow, be sure to have them inspected.
Also, be familiar with the ‘rotten egg’ smell of CO. The nasty smell is added to the otherwise odorless gas to alarm people when gas is present in the home or workplace. If you smell gas, or if you think you smell gas, leave the premises and contact emergency authorities as soon as possible.
Although the likelihood of a gas explosion is pretty rare, it’s very important to first, make sure your home is as safe as it can be, and then, be aware of any warning signs and act quickly if you suspect there is a problem.
For home maintenance and comfort tips, visit StayComfyMinnesota.com! Stay Comfy, Minnesota is your Minnesota resource for air conditioning repair, furnace repair and HVAC tips and advice.