You may not think of it that way, but natural gas is a tool. It heats your home, your hot water, and cooks your food, and it does that because it will cleanly burn. Just like any tool natural gas has its good and bad sides. A hammer can pound nails, but can also smash you finger. A saw can cut wood, but can also cut you hand. The secret with any tool is to learn to use it safely.
Natural Gas Safety FeaturesThe first safety feature of natural gas was added back when it was being processed right from the well. A product called mercaptan was added to the odorless gas to give it an obnoxious odor to alert you to any leaks in the distribution pipes or those within your home. Natural gas suppliers in Georgia distribute a product that has that “rotten egg” smell added to the gas to alert you to any leak.
Why is finding out about leaks important? Because the same feature that heats your home and hot water using a controlled burn could cause a fire through an uncontrolled burn from a leak. If there is a slight rotten egg odor it may be as simple as a pilot light gone out, or a burner not quite turned completely turned off. If the odor is strong, leave the area at once and call your gas company or 9-1-1 from a safe distance.A second safety feature is the federal 8-1-1, “No Dig” program. Natural gas pipes, like most utilities today, are buried underground and the law requires you, or your contractor, to call 8-1-1 to allow the utilities to mark their service lines before you dig. Gas companies in Georgia such as AGL take part in this program.
A shovel point, or powered digger, could rupture a gas line, causing a slight leak or complete lose of service. But even worse is the possibility of causing a spark and igniting the gas at that point.The third safety feature is proper venting of your gas furnace and hot water heater.
Furnaces and hot water heaters are intended to be operated throughout the day and night for extended periods and in out of the way places. These extended operating periods produce harmful amounts of carbon monoxide which must be vented to the outdoors. Since cook tops and ovens are not vented they should not be used to heat the home.