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Natural Gas Safety

3 Ways to Help with Disaster Relief

At Walton Gas we encourage our employees to give back, and as a company we’re actively involved in supporting causes that help people struggling to recover from sudden disasters. We are a community and we help one another. Here are a few ways you can help out with disaster relief.

Red Cross

American Red Cross

When disaster strikes, the Red Cross stands ready to immediately mobilize and respond. They’ve been on the frontlines of disaster relief since 1881, and few organizations do it better than they do. After Irma, the Red Cross is in desperate need of volunteers. By helping out the Red Cross you are helping thousands who have been affected. Come and make a difference today.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army helps and serves hundreds of thousands of people every year, providing necessities to those who need it most. They offer hot meals to the starving, housing to the homeless, emergency financial relief, and so much more. To accomplish this mission, the Salvation Army relies on volunteers like you. Just last year the Salvation Army was able to reach 1.75 million people because of those who volunteered! The Shield of the Salvation Army is one of the most recognized symbols of charity in the world. It gives hope, reassurance and comfort to people during their darkest times. And it starts with people like you. Click here to volunteer.

Habitat for Humanity: Repair with Kindness

The Repair with Kindness program helps qualified homeowners make repairs that are critical to their health and safety, including improved weatherization efforts to better withstand the power of Mother Nature. Repairs include: accessibility improvements, carpentry, roof repair or replacement, storm windows and doors. To learn more about the Repair with Kindness Program click here.

Irma has affected the lives of many of our families, friends, and neighbors. Here at Walton Gas, we want you to know we support you and we, along with our partners at these great charitable organizations, are here for you. If you can afford to offer either your time or financial support to any or all of these ongoing causes, we encourage you to join our support. We’re all Georgia Proud, and there is no storm we cannot overcome together.  

Call Before You Dig

Spring is around the corner so you probably have an outdoor project planned. Maybe you are planting a tree, adding onto your deck or even putting in that new fence.

BUT, before you start digging away on your land, you need to remember to call before you dig.

Georgia state law requires that you call 811 to have your utility lines professionally marked before you do any digging on your property. This is a statewide, toll-free number and your underground utilities will be marked free of charge. When you call the Utilities Protection Center at 811 or 1-800-282-7411, all you have to do is ask for an underground locator service.

This is not a step to be overlooked in your project because if you just start digging without this knowledge, you could run into gas lines, electric lines or even water pipes, which could have some serious consequences.

Call or visit georgia811.com if you have any additional questions or concerns about digging on your property. As long as you call before you dig, you should be safe to start on your outdoor spring projects. Happy spring digging! 

Natural Gas Alarms

Natural gas, while a great source of energy for your house, is also highly combustible. That is why some people add a natural gas alarm to their house as an added precaution in case they would have a natural gas leak.

Why use a natural gas alarm?

In its natural state, natural gas is odorless, so natural gas companies add mercaptan to give it a smell. This odor is often compared to the smell of rotten eggs. If you do smell this smell in your home, it is an indication that you may have some sort of natural gas leak.

Some people also like to add a natural gas alarm to their house as an added precaution. The alarm is meant to detect a natural gas leak before the amount gets too harmful, so it may alert you before you smell anything in your house.

What do you do if your natural gas alarm goes off?

Like previously stated, this alarm will go off before you are in any great danger, so don’t panic. The first step would be to open your windows to allow the natural gas to dissipate if possible. You will then want to turn off your natural gas and leave your house. Next you will want to contact your gas company to have someone come check your house for a gas leak.

Natural gas is overall a very safe source of energy and about half the households in the United States use it to heat their homes. However, it is good to be prepared and ready so you can prevent potential problems from happening. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

How to Convert Your Home to Natural Gas

Natural gas is the most popular fuel in the United States. Around 56 percent of US households are heated by natural gas. Thinking about converting your home? It’s not as strenuous as it sounds. We’ve broken the process down to five steps. The good news is, most of these steps are done by professionals, all you have to do is make the decision to convert and hire a reliable contractor.

Follow this step by step guide to converting your home to natural gas:

  1. Check for gas availability in your area: You can do this by going online or calling your gas company. Ask every question you can think of. Make sure you ask if installation of the service line is free, because it usually is. Don’t make any assumptions about this process; it’s a big project and you’re going to want to know everything that’s going to happen to your home.
  2. Inquire about options and offers: Talk to your heating contractor about equipment options and special offers. Ask about a furnace for heat and a boiler for hot water. These appliances are generally $1,500 to $3,000; which is a bargain compared to oil systems, which could cost up to $8,000.
  3. Map it out: Your utility company will come map out your property to find the optimal route for the new gas service. They will identify your phone, sewer, water and electrical lines. In addition, you should mark where any underground sprinklers, septic and oil tanks are.
  4. Installation of the service line: It’s time for the service line to be installed from the street to your home. Make sure you ask your company what their services include regarding your yard. Most companies will fill in holes they’ve dug; however, they aren’t responsible for lawn care. Find out what they will do once the project is complete.
  5. Equipment Installation: This is one of the very last steps in converting your home to natural gas. All gas equipment (i.e. your furnace) will be installed in your home.

Sometimes there are special permits that you need in order to convert your home. You’re heating contractor/utility company will take care of this for you. They will figure out what needs to be done prior to installing your equipment. If there is gas near your property, installations can take up to four to six weeks, depending on the permit approval process.

You are sure to save money in the long run by switching your home to natural gas. Check out our other blogs for more information about the benefits of natural gas. 

Natural Gas Appliances

Natural gas may seem like an old-school way to fuel your home’s appliances, but we are here to tell you otherwise. Some people choose to run on electric because they think it’s cheaper and more eco-friendly. It is true that electric appliances can be less expensive initially, but it’s actually costing them more in the long run. According to the United States Department of Energy, natural gas costs 68 percent less, so long as you already have gas lines leading to your appliances. You can see how this would save you money as time goes on.

You may be wondering if natural gas is bad for the environment and we can assure the contrary. Natural gas is considered the cleanest fossil fuel; it is efficient, reliable, economic and environmentally friendly. In fact, natural gas air conditioning is becoming more popular because it is eco-friendly and efficient. It cools your home faster than any other form of air conditioning.

On the warmer side of things, natural gas furnaces have been around much longer and have a popular following because they are known to heat your house quicker than the other methods. The American Gas Association found that 56 percent of U.S. households use natural gas heating.

Other natural gas-powered appliances include water heaters, stoves, dryers, fire places and grills. People prefer gas water heaters for constant hot water and they prefer gas stoves for precision cooking. You can always count on a gas appliance in your home.

With natural gas fueled appliances comes great responsibility. Make sure you are keeping your home safe by having your appliances checked regularly. Keep combustible items away from gas appliances to prevent fires and never keep flammable products in the same room or near appliances that produce heat.

 If you have further questions about the safety of your gas appliances, you can contact your gas company or refer to Walton Gas’ other blog posts.

What to do When the Natural Gas Alarm Sounds

You’ve made the smart choice in installing a natural gas detector and you’re set. So, what happens when that alarm actually goes off? Like any other potential emergency, it’s advised that you have a plan in place in case of a natural gas leak. Write down what you would do, who you would call and how you would stay safe in this situation. Make sure your entire family knows the emergency plan and where to find it. In addition to having a plan, you should have your natural gas sources checked regularly—Federal Safety Standards require gas companies to complete inspections—so make sure you’re taking them up on that.

Here are the “dos and don’ts” in case your natural gas alarm goes off.

  • DON’T: Don’t panic! These detectors are made to go off before dangerous amounts of gas are built up. They are rated according to what they call “Lower Explosive Limit” or “LEL.” This phrase refers to the percentage of gas that has built up in your home. The detector is meant to go off before it reaches a dangerous percentage so if it’s going off, you should still be safe.
  • DO: Turn all gas appliances off and put out any fire that may be burning in your home—candles, fireplaces, cigarettes and the like.
  • DON’T: Don’t touch or use any electrical equipment, including light switches. If necessary, you will need to use battery-operated flashlights. This being said, you shouldn’t unplug any appliances—natural gas is highly flammable and you wouldn’t want to start a fire in your home.
  • DO: Open all of your windows and doors to let the gas disperse.

If you have done everything you can do and your alarm is still going off, then you should leave your house and unplug the main gas line. Next, you will need to call your fire department and your gas company. It is helpful if you have had these numbers in your cell phone or in your car so you don’t have to search your house during an emergency.

If you have done everything above and your alarm turns off, it’s still a good idea to get your house inspected to find the leak.

Check out our other Walton Gas blogs to learn more about natural gas!

How Safe is Natural Gas?

Gas leak

A gas leak is a common household fear: plenty of movies, TV shows and urban legends concern the family that doesn't notice a gas leak until something explodes or someone succumbs to carbon monoxide poisoning. But is the fear of natural gas justified? How safe is natural gas as a home energy source?

Natural gas is a mix of hydrocarbons. The chemical nature of a hydrocarbon means that it burns cleanly with little waste product: where coal or petroleum leaves behind ash and tar, the biggest waste product of natural gas is plain old water. That actually makes natural gas one of the safest energy sources in existence, since it doesn't leave behind anything harmful to humans when it burns.

The gas itself can be a little more dangerous. One of the gases in the hydrocarbon mixture is carbon monoxide, which is very toxic to humans and pets. Because natural gas is colorless, the only way to tell if the gas is building up is by smell, which can be hard to recognize before it has reached dangerous levels. Natural gas is also extremely flammable: the thing that makes it such an efficient fuel source means that it can ignite very quickly if there is a build up.

At the end of the day, natural gas is as safe as the piping and appliances that transport and use it. A natural gas system that undergoes regular maintenance to prevent leaks is just as safe as any other energy system. Regular maintenance and quality appliances are the key to keeping natural gas the safe, efficient and clean energy source that it should be.

Safety Measures for Carbon Monoxide Build-ups

gas pressure gauges

You can’t see it.

You can’t smell it.

You can’t taste it.

You might never even know it is there, but carbon monoxide is a very real threat to your health. The build-up of carbon monoxide can cause illness or, in some cases, even death. It all depends on the concentration and the amount of time you have been exposed to the gas.

There are small amounts of carbon monoxide in the air when certain natural resources are burned, but typically not enough to cause harm. Carbon monoxide can be more lethal if the heating system or chimney in your own is not functioning properly, allowing a build-up of gas.

In the event of a carbon monoxide build-up in your home, the effects can often feel like symptoms of the flu. Headaches, feeling tired, dizziness and stomach illness are all commonly associated with people exposed to large amounts of carbon monoxide.

Keep your home safe from a carbon monoxide leak with a few important safety tips:

  1. Check the fuel-burning appliances in your home. Ensuring that your gas or oil furnace, water heater, gas range, space heater and other appliances are functioning properly is an important preventative measure and help avert a potential build-up of carbon monoxide.
  2. Install carbon monoxide detectors. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing detectors in every area of your house. These allow for early detection of a carbon monoxide build-up and will alert you if the gas levels are dangerously high. It is also important to regularly check the batteries in the detectors.
  3. Be smart about what you keep in your garage. Vehicles, lawnmowers, snow blowers and other gasoline-powered engines should not be allowed to idle in the garage, especially if that garage is attached to your home. Doing so can be hazardous.

If you believe a carbon monoxide build-up has occurred, open all of the doors and windows, call an emergency service provider and leave your home until help arrives.

When Your Gas Oven Won’t Heat

Stove knobs

Gas ovens are not difficult to operate. Once you have turned the temperature knob to the desired setting, all you have to do is wait a few minutes for it to pre-heat before sliding your dish into the oven. But if your meal is left uncooked even after your cooking time has expired, there could be an issue with the oven’s heating mechanism and you’ll want to address it.

Do not attempt to identify the problem yourself if you smell gas while the oven is shut off. If that is the case, contact a professional repair service immediately. With that said, there are a few troubleshooting methods to consider should your gas oven fail to heat.

First, test the burners on the stovetop. If no flame is produced, check the supply valve, unless your stove operates on LP gas and the tank level needs to be checked instead.

Next, open the door of the oven’s broiler section and check the oven’s inner workings. The oven burner and ignition system are located in the upper portion of the broiler chamber. Take a moment to inspect the burner tube for obstructions or holes from corrosion or overheating.

You’ll also want to determine the type of ignition system and then test it. Use a flashlight and identify whether your stove is a pilot light system or a glow ignition system. For a pilot light system, hold a match to the flame aperture for at least 10 seconds. If the flame goes out, the issue could be with the thermocouple.

For pilot ignition systems – or if the pilot light is functioning – turn on the oven and watch the burner tube. If the burner tube creates no flame or a weak flame and fails to heat, the safety valve could be faulty.

For best practices, refer to your owner’s manual for exact instructions on how to inspect the oven. If there are concerns at all for your safety, your best option is to call a professional.

Warning Signs of a Natural Gas Leak

gas under extreme pressure

With a growing reputation as one of the safest and cleanest sources of fossil fuel, use of natural gas as an energy source has become more widespread over the past several years. If you are one such homeowner, it is important to know the most common warning signs of a gas leak, so that you can take appropriate action before it is too late.

Natural gas is colorless and lighter than air, so you’ll need to rely largely on your sense of smell, unless there are obvious physical signs of a leak. It can be a damaged connection to a gas appliance, dead or dying vegetation or a fire or explosion near a pipeline.

If there are no obvious physical signs, a foul odor similar to that of a rotten egg is the most common smell associated with a gas leak. This odor can also be masked by other odors that are present in your home, so there is no guarantee that you’ll sense it immediately. You might also hear a hissing or whistling sound near the gas line or appliance where you believe the leak has occurred.

Once you have determined that there is a gas leak in your home, it is important that you do not use anything that could spark the gas. Attempting to turn natural gas valves on or off, using your home telephone or cell phone and striking a match are all to be avoided in the event of a possible gas leak.

The safest course of action is to leave the house immediately and call 911 once you are a safe distance from your home. Make sure that no one else enters the home before the emergency responders. Starting a vehicle in close proximity to your home is also not a good idea, as it could also spark the gas.