Many homeowners in Plainfield, IL, use municipal natural gas to heat their homes as it is more affordable than electricity or fuel oil. It is also a secure and cost-effective way to operate dryers, water heaters, and cooktops. However, some homeowners may be unaware that regular maintenance is necessary for a gas line system. To ensure your gas line system is safe and efficient, a professional must inspect and maintain it annually. Additionally, you can conduct a system check and take precautions to prevent any gas piping system issues between maintenance visits.
How Gas Piping Systems Work
A basic residential gas piping system carries natural gas directly from the supply to your heating system. In homes with gas applications, this main supply line has branches that run to dryers, stoves, and water heaters. These auxiliary lines usually run through your walls and lead to drop lines, which are vertical pipes that connect to appliances.
Gas piping systems rely on pressure to deliver natural gas. At most residences, the distribution line from the supplier connects to a meter on the side of the house through a supply line, which is usually underground. Once the gas reaches the meter, it goes through a regulator to reduce pressure before entering your home. This reduction is necessary because the pressure to force the gas through pipes to reach multiple customers is too high for home applications. Lowering the pressure reduces the risk to homeowners if there is a leak. After traveling through the regulator, the gas pressure is slightly higher than your home’s air pressure, so it still gets everywhere it needs to go.
The gas company is responsible for the distribution system that supplies its customers, the underground supply line, the meter, and the regulator. As a homeowner, you are responsible for everything on the other side of the meter.
Gas Line Maintenance and Other Considerations
Gas line maintenance is essential for safety reasons. The National Fire Protection Agency reports that fire departments respond to over 3,200 gas-related residential fires annually. In addition, poorly maintained gas line systems are inefficient and can cause increased utility bills. Preventing damage to your system is also essential to maintaining it.
Inspect Gas Lines Between Visits by a Professional
You should visually inspect your gas lines at least every three months. In addition to looking for damage, you can run your hands over the exposed lines at your house. If you feel dents or see any corrosion, you will know an issue needs to be addressed. A professional plumber can assess the extent of the damage and offer a solution.
You will know if there is a significant gas leak because gas companies add a chemical that smells like rotten eggs to natural gas before they deliver it. However, a pinpoint leak in an inaccessible part of your residence may not produce a strong enough odor to be detected unless you perform regular inspections. Outside, you can look for dying vegetation since the wind may carry any odor away. Wilting grass or landscaping can be an indicator that there is a gas leak nearby. If you find a leak, it is essential to turn the gas off at the main valve and call a professional to fix it before using your heating system or appliances again.
During your inspection, you should pay extra attention to gas line connections. Many gas line issues result from problems where the line connects to a furnace or appliance. Over time, they can fail due to degrading materials or improper installation.
When you first start your gas line inspection routine, double-check what materials your lines are made from. Most residential gas piping is made from materials like PVC, flexible corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST), or galvanized steel. However, older homes may have gas lines made from copper. If this is the case at your home, you should contact a professional to have copper tubing replaced. In contact with natural gas, copper reacts by producing sulfites that cause clogs in the line. Also, copper is a good electricity conductor. If a power line comes in contact with the tubing, it could ignite the gas.
A regular inspection routine does not cost you any money and is a valuable part of gas line system maintenance. By checking your system over, you can identify issues before they result in safety hazards. In addition, identifying a problem early allows you to contact a professional to fix it before it gets out of hand and becomes an expensive repair bill.
Pay Attention to Appliances
If you have a stove that is acting up or a dryer that takes longer than usual to dry a load of laundry, it may be a problem with the appliance. However, it can also indicate an issue at the gas connection point or with the pressure level in your gas piping system. In addition, if the color of your furnace burner flame is any other color than blue, like orange or yellow, it could be a gas problem. In any of these situations, you should stop using the appliance or furnace and contact a professional.
Know Where Your Shut-off Valves and Gas Lines Are
The main shut-off valve for your gas pipe system is usually located between the ground and the meter on the side of your home. In addition, there are typically shut-off valves near your gas appliances and furnace. It is important to locate these valves and ensure all household members know where they are in case of an emergency. If you have difficulty finding one or are unsure how to turn them off, your plumber can help by pointing them out and providing guidance.
Knowing where the gas lines are outside your home is equally important. Parts of your piping system may run along the side of your house, primarily if it supplies an outdoor grill or pool heater. A professional usually secures this tubing to your home’s concrete foundation right under where your siding ends to keep it out of sight. However, you can easily damage it with a weedwhacker or debris thrown from a lawnmower.
It would be best to have a professional inspect and service your system at least once a year. It is relatively fast and cheaper than you expect to pay for heating or cooling maintenance. Professionals have the tools to check the gas flow pressure through your lines. They will also ensure the safety devices incorporated into your furnace and appliances work correctly. They have years of experience and training that most homeowners cannot match, making the expense of their services well worth your money.
Contact the Professionals
At TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we’ve served Plainfield residents and the surrounding areas since 2008. We specialize in providing plumbing services, including inspections of gas line systems. Learn more about our maintenance plans here! Additionally, we install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. You can contact TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today and schedule an appointment with one of our professional plumbers to inspect your gas line.