Natural Gas Safety
Natural gas safety is very important to us. The safety record of natural gas utilities is outstanding, and it keeps getting better. Midwest Energy offers safety training programs to schools or other groups interested in learning about natural gas safety, as well as these tips about gas safety at your home or business.
Gas Leaks: If You Smell Gas
If you suspect a natural gas leak in your home, business or even outdoors, leave the area immediately. Once everyone is a safe distance away call us at 1-800-222-3121. Do not turn on/off lights, use garage door openers, phones, start a vehicle or anything else that can give off a spark. Do not attempt to turn off any gas valves. We will send a trained service technician immediately to investigate any emergency leak call.
You can recognize a natural gas leak in the following ways:
- SIGHT: Blowing dirt, bubbling creeks or ponds, dry spots in moist areas or dead plants surrounded by live green plants near gas lines may be indicators.
- SMELL: A harmless agent, Mercaptan, is added to natural gas to give it a distinctive “rotten egg” smell.
- SOUND: An unusual hissing sound near gas appliances or a blowing sound near gas lines can indicate a gas leak.
Excess Flow Valves
What is an excess flow valve?
An excess flow valve (EFV) is a safety device designed to limit the flow of natural gas to a very small amount if there is a sudden break in your service line. An EFV meeting the performance standards prescribed under 49 CFR Part 192.381 will be installed on all new domestic and commercial service lines where the load is less than 1,000 cfh (cubic feet of gas per hour). Where the load is greater than 1,000 cfh, a curb valve or other service line valve will be fitted.
How does an excess flow valve work?
An EFV is like an electrical circuit breaker that trips when electrical current exceeds a set limit. The EFV will activate when gas flow increases sharply such as when a gas service line breaks. If your service line breaks between the location where the EFV has been installed and your gas meter, the EFV is designed to limit the flow of gas to a very small amount.
Where and when would the excess flow valve be installed?
Midwest Energy Inc. will install it near the connection to the main. It would be installed at the same time your new or modified service line is installed.
Are there limitations to the protection an EFV can provide?
Yes. The EFV is not designed to close due to slow leaks in your service line, leaks or breaks in the gas main in the street, or leaks in your house piping. The EFV will only shut off the flow of gas due to a break in your service line between the location the EFV was installed and your meter set.
Will all Midwest Energy Inc.’s customers have the option to have an EFV installed on their service line?
This mandatory requirement is for new residential and commercial customers who have service lines that serve a single residences, commerical property and residential and commercial customers who are scheduled for service line modifications, and have a consumption less than 1,000 cfh. The EFV is available to any existing residential customer upon request and at cost. Service isolation valves will be fitted on commercial/industrial services with a load greater than 1,000 cfh.
What will it cost to install and maintain the EFV?
If you are having a new or modified service (if appropriate) line installed, the installation cost is included in the service cost you will be quoted. Under normal circumstances there should be no required maintenance on an EFV.
Is the EFV also an earthquake valve?
No. Earthquake valves are designed to shut off if seismic activity above a certain level is detected. An EFV will only limit the flow of gas due to a sudden increase in gas flow, such as when a service line is severed.
Are there other options that provide protection against service line breaks?
Yes. The most common cause of a service line break is third party damage, so "Call Before You Dig" at least two business days prior to any excavation.
Call Before You Dig
Gas, electric, water, telecommunications and sewer lines are just some of the utilities buried underground, sometimes at very shallow depths. Before you move dirt for any reason – installing a sprinkler system, building a shed, even planting a tree – you should call Kansas One Call by dialing 811. When you call two business days in advance of digging, crews will locate and mark all underground utilities at no charge to you. By knowing what is below ground, you can save yourself the headache and expense of repairing any utility lines you could damage by digging into them.
Carbon monoxide, often called CO, is a poisonous, odorless, colorless, tasteless, and non-irritating gas. CO is formed by incomplete combustion, and when inhaled by people or pets, it can be fatal.
Parked vehicles are the most common source of CO poisoning. Natural gas appliances account for a small percentage of all CO poisonings, particularly space heating equipment in where vents and chimneys are not properly installed or maintained. Other causes include misuse of appliances such as improper use of ranges and ovens for space heating.
A person exposed to high levels of CO may complain of dizziness, headache, nausea, sleepiness or other flu-like symptoms without fever. If you experience these symptoms, evacuate people and pets from the building immediately and call 911 or Midwest Energy, at 1-800-222-3121.
You can prevent CO poisoning by following a few tips:
- Don’t operate or warm up vehicles, motorcycles or generators in a closed garage or shed.
- Don’t use a charcoal or gas grill in a garage or an enclosed patio, and never use them to heat a room indoors.
- Have your gas appliances and furnace serviced annually; a thorough inspection will check combustion boxes for tiny cracks, clean any build-up from critical areas and ensure the gas supply and exhaust are functioning properly.
- Special care must be taken with gas space heaters, as many are installed unvented. It is especially important to make sure that an adequate supply of fresh air is available to ensure proper combustion. Proper combustion is normally indicated by the presence of a clear, blue flame. A small amount of yellow or orange is normal and is caused by flecks of dust in the air.
- Install CO detectors that have been approved by a national testing laboratory on each floor of your home, and test them annually.
Residential Methane Detectors
Residential methane detectors are available at many home improvement stores and can provide an additional ability to detect the presence of natural gas. These alarms must be selected and installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Learn more at the Gas Technology Institute.