For all their modern advantages, electricity and gas can represent home hazards if not handled properly and treated with respect. But there is no more reason to fear gas heat or appliances than to forego the convenience of modern light bulbs or energy efficient upgrades. All that is required is a basic understanding of potential dangers and a modicum of knowledge about what is needed to assure that the gas appliances and LPG fittings are always in tip-top condition.
The Basics of LPG
First, a definition: LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. It is derived from petroleum refining and natural gas processing and is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that is liquefied under pressure. Commonly also known as propane, LPG is used worldwide for a variety of applications. It is sold in portable, refillable tanks for use with outdoor barbecues and for recreational vehicles and camping gear.
LPG can also be stored in surface or underground tanks to supply an entire household, including furnace, water heater, clothes dryer and kitchen appliances. LPG has similarities to natural gas, but it also has distinct characteristics. LPG appliances are designed for safe operation and offer many years of reliable service with proper handling.
First, Some Cautions
LPG is convenient. Refillable cylinders are used not only for grills, but also for portable heaters, camp lights and a variety of tools, equipment, and small machinery. No matter what the size or intended use, they should always be stored properly, checked for condition prior to each use and sized properly, with appropriate fittings for the intended appliance.
For whole house supply, LPG is typically stored in a large remote tank, either above ground or buried. All fittings, piping, tubing, and connectors must be supplied and installed by a licensed professional. In almost all cases, installations will be inspected and certified by building officials or municipal authorities. It is, however, the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that continued operation is safe and that there is no deterioration that could cause a hazard.
When purchasing new appliances, always specify that the gas supply is LPG rather than natural gas: Some are interchangeable with a conversion kit, but not all. Each has a different burn rate, meaning that a specific fuel-to-air supply ratio is necessary. Appliance fittings will be supplied accordingly.
What Not to Do
Every gas appliance comes with safety warnings. Never tamper with the fittings or safety valves. Never apply undue force to a connection. Never attempt to light an appliance if you suspect a leak or if a fitting has been compromised. Check LPG appliances and fittings regularly to assure that they are in working order. Never attempt to replace parts or make modifications to the tank, the lines, or an appliance without proper training. Never store cylinders near heat or other flammable products or allow canisters to roll around in a vehicle.
Even when changing a portable tank on an outdoor grill, use reasonable care and take proper precautions. The canister, the gauge, and the fittings should all be in good condition, with no evidence of corrosion or leaks. Always shut off a cylinder valve prior to disconnecting it from an appliance. LPG appliances and heating systems require proper ventilation and an adequate supply of fresh air. Always use caution. If you experience difficulty when igniting an LPG appliance, always turn off the supply valve and wait at least three minutes for the gas to dissipate prior to trying again. Always turn the barbecue gas supply completely off when an appliance is not in use.
In Case of Emergency
In case of a leak (LPG smells like rotten eggs), turn off the gas supply, either to the appliance or to the entire house. Contact your propane supplier if appropriate, or disconnect a portable cylinder and take it for repair. If a fire starts, turn off the gas if you are able to do so. Water can be used to douse a gas fire, but don’t hesitate to call the fire department for a larger blaze.
Source: Tarantin Industries Inc.