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Tips for Propane Safety in Your North Carolina Home

Why You Can’t Aways Smell Propane Gas

propane north carolina You can always rest easy knowing that propane has a remarkable safety record, thanks to stringent codes and regulations developed by the propane industry and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

But it’s always a good idea to review some safety protocols from time to time, especially with topics that are sometimes overlooked. For instance, do you know the reasons why you can’t always smell a propane gas leak?

In its natural form, propane is odorless, but manufacturers deliberately add a chemical compound to give it a strong unpleasant smell. This odorized propane is usually described as something similar to the odor of rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray.
However, there are situations that may prevent you from detecting that odor. Sometimes, conditions in your home – or in your body – can make it harder to pick up propane’s scent.
Commonly known as “odor loss,” this can be caused by:

  • too much air, water, or rust in your propane tank
  • a propane leak underground (soil diffuses propane’s odor)
  • odor “sticking” to the inside of the propane distribution pipes
  • diminished sense of smell, caused by old age, sinus congestion or other medical conditions.

With all this in mind, it is important to take these two precautions for propane leaks that may otherwise go undetected.

  1. Install a propane gas detector (or detectors, depending on the size and layout of your home). A propane gas detector is an inexpensive but vital piece of safety equipment; follow manufacturer’s instructions for placement and maintenance.
  2. When in doubt, follow propane safety procedures. React immediately to even the faintest propane odor, following propane safety measures to get your family to safety.

What to Do if You Smell Gas

If you ever think you smell propane gas in your home or the area around any gas equipment, or if a propane gas alarm signals the presence of propane, you should do the following right away:

  • extinguish all smoking materials and any other open flames or sources of ignition. Everyone should vacate the building, vehicle or area.
  • Move away without using any electric switches, appliances, thermostats or phones.
  • If it is safe to do so, close the gas shutoff valve on the propane tank or cylinder.
  • Call your propane supplier and/or your local fire department from a mobile phone or a neighbor’s telephone.
  • Even if you do not continue to smell propane, do not open or turn on the propane supply valve. Do not reenter the building, vehicle or area. Let a qualified propane service technician and/or emergency personnel check for escaped propane gas.
  • Have a properly trained propane service technician repair the leak. The propane service technician or emergency responder needs to determine that the leak situation has been fully resolved. The propane service technician should check all of your gas appliances and relight any appliance pilots.
  • Return to the building, camper, RV or area only when the service technician or emergency responder indicates that it is safe to do so.

Don’t Take on Any Repairs Yourself

In this digital age, the initial response to solving a problem is to go online and do research. That’s why do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are such a big trend these days. It seems like people of all ages and skill levels are checking out You Tube videos for a quick-fix way to heal whatever ails their North Carolina home.

But what those videos don’t usually show is what happens when that amateur repair doesn’t go as planned. Over the years, there have been some costly—and even dangerous consequences. That’s especially true when someone starts tinkering with gas appliances. Don’t do this!

Propane repairs present unique challenges that often require extensive training and expensive diagnostic equipment to assess and fix.

Attempting to fix or modify a propane appliance can cause severe damage and lead to dangers like explosions or carbon monoxide leaks.

The bottom line: If you need a propane repair, don’t attempt to do it yourself–contact your propane company or a licensed HVAC service provider. These professionals have the training, experience, and tools to find and fix your problem quickly, correctly and safely so you can focus on the things that matter in your life – like having fun with your family.

To sum up, propane is one of the safest fuels you can choose for your North Carolina home. But to stay as safe as possible, you should always pay close attention to the operation of your gas appliances. The best way to keep all your propane equipment running properly is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preventive maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manuals for what’s required and then get in touch with a propane pro if you have any concerns.