The P. Gagnon & Son Blog

Five Keys to Fall and Winter Propane Safety

Holding house

Posted: October 23, 2018

Propane is one of the safest ways around to power your Southern Maine and New Hampshire home, but like any energy source you need to handle it safely, and know what to do If an emergency arises when you are using your home propane equipment.

Here are five keys to using propane safely at home this fall and winter.

  1. Know how to detect and respond to a propane leak.
    • Propane smells like rotten eggs; learn how to identify the smell, and teach your family members what to do if they detect the odor.
    • Some people may have difficulty smelling propane due to a cold, or because of their age (older people may have a less sensitive sense of smell), a medical condition, or the effects of medication, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. On rare occasion, propane can lose its odor due to the presence of water or rust in a propane tank. For these reasons, we urge you to install propane gas detectors, which sound an alarm in the presence of a propane leak; these units should be installed in addition to carbon monoxide detectors and according to manufacturer’s instructions.
    • If you suspect a propane gas leaks, follow propane safety instructions prepared by the Propane Education & Research Council PERC).
  2. Never attempt to install or repair propane equipment yourself – NEVER try to modify or repair valves, regulators, connectors, controls,
 or other appliance and cylinder or tank parts yourself; this can result in property damage, serious injury, carbon monoxide poisoning, or death. Only a qualified service technician has the training to safely and properly install, inspect, service, maintain, and repair your propane equipment.
  3. Get preventive propane equipment maintenance every year – Most propane safety risk arise from equipment malfunctions that result from poor or inadequate maintenance. Have your propane equipment and systems professionally serviced every year.
  4. Install CO and propane leak detectors – You can’t taste or smell carbon monoxide, but it is a very dangerous gas. High levels of CO can come from poorly maintained or broken appliances
, or from a blocked venting system or chimney. High levels of CO can make you dizzy or sick; extreme cases can cause brain damage or death. We urge you to install CO detectors in each level of your Southern Maine or New Hampshire home (this has been a requirement in newly constructed Maine homes since 2011). Propane detectors can provide a further measure of safety (see #1 above).
  5. Avoid propane runouts – Propane runouts are not simply inconvenient, they are potentially hazardous: if a propane appliance valve or a gas line is left open, a leak could occur when the system is recharged, and if your propane tank runs out of gas, any appliance pilot lights will go out – a dangerous scenario. Use FREE Automatic Propane Delivery to avoid propane runouts – and remember that if you run out of propane, the law requires you to contact a professional to perform leak and pressure tests before turning your system back on.

Your safety is our number one priority here at P. Gagnon & Son. Contact us if you have any propane safety questions, or for professional preventative maintenance and service plans for your propane equipment.