Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

To help keep your gas appliances operating safely and efficiently, The Natural Gas Company or a licensed heating contractor or plumber should check your gas appliances every year. Not performing annual maintenance may result in inefficient appliance operation, and in some cases dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide.

What causes carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. In the case of home gas appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or other appliance misuse or failure.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

When incomplete combustion occurs in your home’s gas appliances, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning of you and your family. The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.

Signs that may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide

  • A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
  • An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
  • Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.

What to do if you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home:

  • Immediately turn off and stop using the suspected gas appliance.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
  • Contact The Natural Gas Company at 642-5635 or a licensed heating contractor or plumber immediately to have the appliance inspected.
  • Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by The Natural Gas Company or a licensed heating contractor or plumber.

How to maintain and use gas appliances to prevent carbon monoxide

  • Vacuum around burner compartments, and inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Make sure to properly replace the front panels of a forced-air unit or the burner compartment door of a gas wall heater.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Have all gas appliances and venting repairs done by a qualified and licensed heating or plumbing contractor.
  • When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
  • Never use your gas oven for space heating.
  • Gas appliance maintenance is always the homeowner’s responsibility. However, The Gas Company will perform appliance safety checks upon request.

Should you worry about carbon monoxide?

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances is statistically rare. During the last 20 years, the number of deaths related to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning has declined substantially. However, while the chance of dying from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a home gas appliance is rare, it is still essential to perform regular maintenance on your home gas appliances to ensure your safety. For these reasons, it is recommended that you have your gas furnace checked at least once a year by The Natural Gas Company or a licensed heating contractor or plumber.

Carbon monoxide home alarms

The decision on whether or not to purchase and install a carbon monoxide alarm is one of personal choice. Alarms may provide an extra level of safety, but they also require routine maintenance and replacement at least every three to five years to perform properly. Even with alarms in place, regular gas appliance maintenance is still required. Inspection and routine maintenance are still the best defense against accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances.

Funace Safety

Furnace Safety

It is important to maintain your furnace for safety and operating efficiency. Follow the tips listed below for the types of furnace in your home. Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Floor Furnace

  • Avoid lint build-up by vacuuming floor furnace regularly.
  • Keep children away from the grill, as it gets very hot.
  • Avoid fires – don’t place rugs, furniture or combustible items over the grill or block the airflow.

Wall Furnace

  • Clean inside the burner compartment of built-in vented wall furnaces once a month during the heating season to prevent lint build-up.

Central Gravity Furnace

  • Keep furnace heat registers free of obstructions.
  • Don’t store items nearby which might stop the airflow.

Central Forced-Air Heating

  • Many gas furnaces use air from the room to operate. Lint and dust carried by air, or items stored in or around the furnace can block airflow. In order to operate safely and efficiently, your gas furnace must be kept free of dust and lint build-up or other obstructions stored near the furnace, such as newspapers or cleaning equipment.
  • Most forced-air furnaces have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. The filter should be checked monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and cleaned or replaced if necessary.
  • When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Most newer forced-air furnaces have a safety switch that prevents furnace operation when the filter compartment door/panel is not in place. Some older forced-air furnaces do not have a safety switch and can be operated with the filter compartment door/panel off or not properly in place.
    • These older furnaces, when installed in a closet and operated with the panel/door not in place, will circulate carbon monoxide throughout the house.

CAUTION: Unvented gas heaters are unsafe

Using an unvented gas heater in your home is a violation of the
These heaters are not approved for use in homes because —

  • Poor operation can result in an accumulation of hazardous fumes.
  • Unless a room heater has enough air from an outside vent or an open window, all of the oxygen in a room can be used up, resulting in illness or death.
  • The flames in these heaters are not fully covered, which could result in fires.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose

Furnace Recalls

Water Heaters

Water Heaters

  • All gas appliances have a main burner flame and many also have a pilot flame. To reduce the risk of flammable vapors being ignited by these flames, follow these tips:
    • Water heaters installed in garages must be elevated so the pilot or other source of ignition is a minimum of 18 inches above the floor or installed per local building codes or the manufacturers’ installation instructions.
    • Never store or use flammable products such as gasoline, paint thinner, or cleaning products in the same room or near any gas or heat-producing appliance.
  • Earthquakes can cause improperly secured water heaters to move or topple. To help prevent this, strap it firmly to the wall studs in two places — the upper and lower one-third of the tank — with heavy bolts and metal tape. Be sure to place the lower strap at least 4 inches above the thermostat controls. Kits are often available at your local hardware store.
  • Lower water heater temperature to prevent scalding accidents. Water temperatures above 125 degrees can cause severe burns or even death.

Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation
Attic insulation can help lower your energy bills. Improperly installed installation, however, can create a fire hazard. Be sure to use the following tips for a new and existing attic insulation.

  • Keep insulation away from all heat source, furnaces, water heaters, recessed light fixtures, fan motors, doorbell transformers, chimney, flues and vents.
  • Install barrier made of non-combustible material around the above heat sources.
  • Keep insulation away from all bare wire or ”knob and tube” wiring.
  • Keep the air supply openings to the forced-air furnace free of any insulation.
  • Leave attic or eave vents uncovered.
  • Periodically check attic for insulation movement.
  • Contact a state-licensed insulation contractor if you have any questions about proper installation.

How To Recognize Gas Company Personnel

Tips on Recognizing Employees of The Natural Gas Company

Don’t Open the Door Unless You’re Sure!
Meter Readers. Service Technicians. Bill Collectors. These are just a few of the natural gas company employees who regularly visit your neighborhood. Unfortunately, because our employees are a trusted and common sight in many Paris and Henry County areas, criminals may sometimes pose as natural gas company workers in order to enter your home.
Here are some tips to help you recognize natural gas company employees:

  • Does the person have identification?

Tip: Every natural gas company employee on company business is required to carry a photo ID badge.

  • Does the worker have on a natural gas company uniform with our company logo?

Tip: While most gas company workers wear uniforms, some do not. Always ask for identification before allowing someone into your home.

  • Have I or someone else in my home made an appointment for service from The Natural Gas Company?

Tip: Most of the time a natural gas company person visits in response to a service request. If no one in your household scheduled an appointment, call The Natural Gas Company at 642-5635 before allowing the employee into your home.

  • Do natural gas company employees ever stop by without an appointment?

Tip: Yes. But whether they are a meter reader, collector, inspector or gas service technician our employees always carry identification.

Still not sure?
Don’t open the door! Call The Natural Gas Company at 642-5635. Our representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.

Pipeline Safety

Pipeline Safety
Keeping natural gas pipelines in good shape is key to providing safe, reliable energy to our customers. Here is some helpful pipeline service information.

How natural gas gets to your home
The Natural Gas Company receives natural gas from producers and suppliers located outside our service area of Henry County, Tennessee. We monitor the gas for quality, odorize it and then deliver it through our 340 miles of pipeline.

Pipeline maintenance and improvement via our Pipeline Integrity Management Plan
The Natural Gas Company patrols, inspects, tests, repairs, replaces and maintains its pipelines. We demonstrate our commitment to safety by meeting or exceeding federal and state requirements for safe pipeline operations. Our ongoing pipeline improvement plan includes replacing older pipelines when needed with modern pipeline materials, expanding our system to bring in new gas supplies, and helping to minimize system damage that could be caused by earthquakes. In areas that are designated High Consequence Areas, primarily highly populated areas, The Natural Gas Company has implemented a rigorous Integrity Management Program which uses the latest pipeline safety inspection tools to check pipe condition and ensure these pipelines are maintained safely.

Signs of a gas pipeline leak
As a result of our safety commitment, natural gas pipeline leaks are rare. However, leaks can occur due to natural disasters, damage by third-party contractors, or hidden corrosion.
That’s why it’s important to learn how to recognize a pipeline leak:

  • We add a distinctive odor to natural gas so that leaks can be easily detected.
  • A hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a pipeline may indicate escaping natural gas. (Special markers show the location of most major pipelines.)
  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance.
  • Dead or dying vegetation over or near a pipeline.
  • A fire or explosion near a pipeline.
  • Exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster.

If you suspect a leak …

  • Stay calm.
  • Don’t light a match, candle or cigarette.
  • Don’t turn electrical devices on or off – not even a light switch.
  • Call The Natural Gas Company immediately at 642-5635, your local fire department or 9-1-1.

Call Before You Dig

Call Before you dig… 8-1-1

Tennessee 811

The Natural Gas Company is responsible for maintaining the gas lines that carry natural gas to your meter. However, if you’re a property owner, you are responsible for maintaining all gas lines on your side of the meter.
Such customer-owned gas lines include all piping that goes:

  • From your gas meter to the appliances on your property.
  • Underground to a building, pool/spa heater, barbecue or other gas appliances.

To properly maintain your gas lines, you should have them periodically inspected for corrosion and leaks, and repair any unsafe conditions immediately. A licensed plumbing or heating contractor can assist you in finding, inspecting and repairing your buried gas lines.
At least two workdays before excavating, call Underground Service Alert, 1-800-351-1111, to request that the location of The Natural Gas Company-owned buried gas lines be marked, free of charge. To help prevent costly damage or injury, carefully dig by hand using appropriate hand-digging tools within 2 feet of any marked underground gas lines. Visit www.tnonecall.com for more information.
NOTE: If you own a master-metered gas line system, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires you to notify your tenants of this information. You may do so by keeping this notice posted continuously in a common area frequented by your tenants.

Earthquake Valves

About Natural Gas Earthquake Shut-off Valves
A natural gas earthquake shut-off valve automatically shuts off your gas service when an earthquake of a sufficient magnitude occurs at your home’s location. After the quake has stopped and you have determined that it is safe to do so, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for restoring your gas service. You will need to make sure no gas leaks exist and re-light your pilot lights. You must ensure that your appliances are safe before operating them. The Natural Gas Company or a service agency can restore your gas service, but remember that it may take many days or even weeks before someone can come to your location in a major emergency. (The Natural Gas Company may charge a fee to reset valves and re-light pilot lights.)

Earthquake Valve Installation Requirements
If you choose to have an earthquake gas shut-off valve installed, or are mandated to have one by your insurance company or the local building code, the valve must be installed on the downstream side of the meter. The downstream side is the customer side of the meter. See picture:

earthquake valve
earthquake valve

NOTE: When you hire a licensed contractor to install your valve, it is important that you ensure that the valve is installed on the downstream side (that is, the customer side of the meter), not on The Natural Gas Company’s property.
In addition, The Natural Gas Company will not install earthquake shut-off valves for its customers.

Where can I purchase a valve?
From supply retailers, licensed plumbing contractors.

Can I install the valve for my home myself?
Yes, if your home is a single family detached house and you meet the “Qualified Installer” requirements of the city. But, the valve must be installed on the customer side of the meter and a permit may be required from the City of Paris but not in the county.

Can the Natural Gas Company install it for me?
No.

Can I use a contractor?
Yes. You may hire a licensed plumber or contractor to install the valve on the customer side of the meter.

What else can I do to further prepare my home for an earthquake?
Many things. For starters, secure your water heater and other natural gas appliances from moving during an earthquake. You can prepare a complete earthquake kit for your home and car. You can also design an earthquake plan to ensure your loved ones are safe in the event a quake strikes when family members are at different locations: work, school, out of town, etc.

Where can I find additional information?
Earthquake valve and restoring gas service after a valve activates may be found in The Natural Gas Company Web site in the Regulatory section — Section , “Earthquake Valve Service.”

If you have questions about your insurance company homeowner requirements, contact your insurance company or agent.