While natural gas is one of the safest and cleanest energy sources, it is nevertheless important to follow the basic rules of prevention, maintenance and installation for natural gas equipment.
How to recognize a natural gas leak ? By its smell. Natural gas is odourless. A very smelly substance is added so leaks can be detected. This substance, called mercaptan, gives off a strong smell of rotten eggs.
What to do?
In the event of a break in a natural gas pipeline or any other component of the natural gas distribution system:
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless and colourless gas. It is produced in small quantities by gasoline engines and other appliances that burn fuel with only partial or incomplete combustion. If CO accumulates due to appliances not being well-maintained, or if they are not working properly, it could cause serious health problems, even death. However, a natural gas appliance that is well calibrated is just as safe as a standard-compliance electrical appliance.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
The symptoms are headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting.
What to do?
Leave the building immediately. If someone is sick or unable to move, carry her or him outside. In all cases of illness, contact emergency medical services by dialing 911. Before re-entering the home, air out all the rooms and determine the cause of the carbon monoxide presence.
How to prevent poisoning?
Leave the building immediately. Contact medical services by calling 9-1-1. Make sure that the source of the carbon monoxide has been determined before returning to the building.
The exterior natural gas installations (connection, meter, air intake and exhaust pipe) must be accessible at all times. The connection must therefore be kept clear of any snow or ice accumulation. This situation could lead to the interruption of the natural gas supply or a substandard appliance performance.
As with every other energy sources, the regular maintenance of natural gas appliances by certified professionals is essential. An appliance that complies with safety standards and is well calibrated is totally safe.
Did you know that three-quarters of the breaks to underground pipes are caused by the clumsiness or negligence of the people digging? Around your building, there may be essential underground systems like these that you and your neighbours rely on: gas lines, power lines, television cables.
What to do before you dig?
Before starting any work that calls for digging, be it to install a pool, fence or patio, you or your contractor must contact Info-Excavation : Online Locate Request with Info-ex or 1 800 663-9228. It's free!
You have appointed a contractor to do the work? Ask him if he has made the necessary checks. Every broken pipe means that the fire department andÉnergir's emergency service are called to intervene.
For more information and to know what you need to take into account when planning and carrying out your work, read:
Guidelines for working near natural gas pipelines
Directive - Demande d'autorisation de travaux dans emprise conduite transmission (PDF) - in French
The natural gas industry has been using trenchless technology for years to install its underground infrastructures. While this approach saves time, is cost-effective and has little impact on the environment, some natural gas lines installed using this technique may have inadvertently intersected with a sewer service line.
What to do?
Some cases therefore call for being extra vigilant. If you try to clear a blocked sewer service line using mechanical tools or a high-pressure water jet, you could inadvertently damage a natural gas line. This could cause a gas leak, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
If the situation affects natural gas appliances, close the natural gas shutoff valve and call Énergir emergency service at 1 800 361-4568 or 514 598-3222. If you have to evacuate your home due to a flood, close the shutoff valve before leaving and alert Énergir.
To save even more, perhaps it's time to replace them by new high energy-efficient ones. Take advantage of grants available to upgrade your equipment.