LPG, or Liquid Propane Gas, extracted from crude oil and natural gas, is a low-carbon, versatile and cost-effective fuel which can be used in a wide variety of applications both at home in cooking and heating, and in business in industrial applications, heating, processing, agriculture and more.
So, what is LPG? LPG is actually a colourless, odourless gas which transforms into liquid when exposed to low temperatures or high pressure and is created when natural gas liquids are processed or when crude oil is refined. But as a flammable and pressurised gas, you may well ask ‘is LPG safe’? The simple answer is yes! It is a completely safe alternative to other forms of fuel when stored and used correctly, but as with all forms of energy, it is not without risks, and it does have the potential for leaks, or to cause accidents and explosions. Emergencies, whilst rare, do occasionally happen, but with proper care and maintenance they can be avoided. In this blog we’re going to look at how to avoid potential issues, as well as what to do in the case of an emergency. And we’d like to assure you that at Northern Energy we’re just a phone call away and always here to help and advise.
How to install and maintain your LPG tank safely:
Let’s start with your tank. When considering your LPG tank installation, whether for an above ground or underground LPG tank, or indeed if you’re moving your existing tank or making changes to your property such as adding an extension or shed, it is important to ensure compliance with UK LPG tank installation regulations.
It can also be a good idea to record information when your system is first installed as to the route of any pipework. This will help in locating potential leaks. And remember, we’re always on hand to advise you and help maintain your LPG tank safety. Other things to think about are:
- Keep the area around your LPG storage tank uncluttered and free from rubbish and any combustible materials. This will also help your driver when he delivers your LPG refill.
- Do not paint your tank a different colour – doing so could affect the temperature of the LPG inside the tank.
- Do not smoke, or allow any source of ignition such as a BBQ near the tank.
- Keep access to the tank clear at all times for maintenance.
- Do not park any vehicles next to your tank.
Gas leaks are rare but still something to take very seriously. A powerful odorant is added to LPG to help detect leaks easily – in the unlikely event that you have a leak from your tank or gas supply, the LPG will quickly evaporate and form a cloud of gas which will drop to the ground as LPG is heavier than air. A leak should never be ignored and it is important you take prompt action if you can smell gas, as when gas meets a source of ignition it can burn or explode.
What do I do if I smell gas?
- If safe to do so, close the manual outlet valve on the tank, turn off all appliances and the property’s emergency valve.
- Open all doors and windows if the leak is inside the house or building.
- Extinguish all nearby naked flames.
- Do not switch any lights or electrical equipment on or off.
- Stay upwind of any escaping LPG or fire, and ensure you stay safe by avoiding coming into contact with the LPG as it can cause severe cold burns.
- In the case of fire, immediately ring the fire brigade and advise them there is an LPG tank on the premises.
If you do smell gas, or in the event of a gas emergency, you can reach us during our office hours; Monday to Friday - 8am to 5pm on 01423 772 789, or outside office hours on our 24 hour emergency number 07712 773 230. This number is for emergencies and customers of Northern Energy only.
Looking after your LPG boiler:
Now let’s think about your boiler. LPG boilers are very safe if fitted and appropriately maintained. Our boilers play an important role in making sure we are kept warm and toasty, and have an endless supply of hot water at the turn of a tap. Ensuring we look after our boilers and have them regularly checked and serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer not only keeps our boilers running at maximum efficiency and in tip-top condition, but is also important for our safety. Badly fitted and poorly serviced and maintained gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas with no smell, colour or taste which makes it hard to detect. It can be released by any appliance that burns oil, solid fuel, wood or gas – and that includes your LPG boiler. Just one more important reason for having your boiler serviced on a regular basis by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
When gas doesn’t burn properly, it produces excess carbon monoxide (CO). There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning where there is inadequate ventilation in the room in which the appliance is located, a flue or chimney is blocked preventing the system venting properly and/or where an appliance has not been fitted and maintained by a competent person.
We would also recommend you install an accredited carbon monoxide detector if you have not already done so or an audible CO alarm which emits a sound when CO is detected. More information on carbon monoxide can be found on the Gas Safe Register website.
If you suspect a carbon monoxide leak, open all windows, turn off appliances and call the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Gas Safety Advice line on 0800 300 363. You can also visit the NHS website for detailed information on the symptoms of CO poisoning.
Rest assured, with Northern Energy you’re in safe hands. With many years of suppling rural homes and businesses with LPG throughout the North of England, we always put our customers first, from taking your order to delivering LPG to your door, and giving you help and advice on LPG safety.
So, is LPG safe? Yes - especially with the support of Northern Energy!