Becoming a new homeowner can be one of the most pivotal times of your life. However, while you're soaking in all the magic of your new home, don't forget about all the responsibilities of learning about your homes natural gas lines. We don't mean to ruin the exciting moments, but it's the responsible thing to do as a new homeowner. That being said, here are 6 things that all homeowners should know about their own natural gas lines.
1. Know where your gas lines are
First and foremost, you have to know where your gas lines are. Before that, however, you need to be able to identify what they look like. In Canada, the most common materials residential gas line piping is made of are steel, black iron, or HDPE (high-density polyethylene), and copper.
After you've identified what your gas line looks like, it's a good idea to visually trace all the paths of your gas line. By doing this, you'll get a sense of where your gas line begins and ends, and which paths may feed which appliances.
2. Know the shut off valve and the pilot light
The component of your gas line that you, as a homeowner, will use the most is the shut off valves. Due to this fact, you should be able to identify when the shut off valve is open or closed, as well as know which shut off valves close off which lines.
The second most used part of the gas line by a homeowner is the pilot light of your furnace or gas fire place. If you don't know, the pilot light is a small flame kept alive by a small amount of gas that lets you use your appliance on a whim, instead of having to relight your gas appliance every time. What you're looking for here is a burnt out pilot light. This is because a common cause of a burnt out pilot light is when the thermocouple detects an irregularity in the gas output, which could mean a leak. However, sometimes you may just need a new thermocouple.
3. Know how to do a visual inspection and when connections aren't looking too good
Hopefully you won't have to worry about this until 20 years after you purchase your house, but it can't hurt to learn to identify a worn down gas line. That being said, as time goes on, you should do visual inspections more frequently. So, how do you do it?
The main signs of a bad gas line that you want to be looking for are corrosion on the gas line, majorly exposed connections, and dead vegetation. First, if you see any cracks or corrosion on your gas line, that's a clear sign that you need to call a professional to get it fixed. Corrosion typically happens near the joints or connections in your gas line, especially at the joints between your gas line and your gas appliance.
Second, if your gas line connections are more exposed than you remember them being, you need to call a professional. Typically, because of the way the pipes and connections are threaded, there will be a little bit of exposed threading on the pipes, but if you suspect there's too much showing, this is a problem that could lead to a gas leak if it already isn't doing so.
Lastly, if you have an underground gas line, or one near any plants/vegetation, and you notice dead patches of vegetation, this could be a sign you have a leaking gas line that's killing the plants.
Visually inspecting a gas line is all about knowing what you're looking for. As a wise man once said, you don't pay a plumber to bang on metal, you pay him because he knows where to bang.
If your home is more than 20 years old, we recommend getting a professional gas line inspection regularly, as the line will be close to the end of it's life and the chances of a damaged gas line system will only increase year after year.
4. Know how to recognize a gas leak
This one somewhat coincides with the last point, but instead of your eyes, you'll be relying on your nose. Often times, people equate the smell of natural gas to rotten eggs.
5. Know how to leak test your gas line
As a new homeowner, it'd be wise to know how to leak test your own gas lines, especially if you suspect a leak, but aren't quite certain enough to call a professional.
First, you want to get yourself some Masters Leak Detector. Next, you'll want to check out this blog, 10 Frequently Asked Questions about Gas Line Repairs, by clicking here. We go over four steps, in detail, about how to identify a gas leak and leak test so you're sure.
6. Know the correct safety procedures for when you know your have a leak
As we said above, natural gas often smells similar to rotten eggs. So, if you ever get this smell coming from your basement or around your gas appliances, like your stove, open your windows and doors and be sure to turn off any pilot lights and close those shut off valves. If you suspect a severe leak, leave the property before calling the authorities. Call your gas provider if you know their number or have it saved. If you can't call the provider quickly, call 911.
Bonus: Know when to call for help
Know that it is illegal for you to work on most of your own gas line - anything before the CSA approved valve must be done by licensed professionals. If you need help with your gas line, feel free to contact any of our 5 locations. We have 2 in Calgary, Alberta and 3 in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. Click here to get started.