Stay safe this winter by following these crucial gas-usage tips

Load-shedding might be absent for now, but here’s how to stay warm during the colder months using an energy source other than electricity

28 May 2024 - 13:27
While gas has been a great solution for saving electricity, experts give us some tips on how to stay safe when using it.
Image: 123RF / olegdoroshin While gas has been a great solution for saving electricity, experts give us some tips on how to stay safe when using it.

Despite the high risk of Eskom having to implement stage-8 load-shedding to prevent our national power grid from crashing, the need to stay warm during winter remains.

Kumaran Nadar, merchandise manager at Builders, says liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can help households counter the cold by powering stoves and geysers during power outages. However, he warns that it’s imperative to handle gas responsibly.

“As a licensed gas partner outlet that complies with the South African National Standards (SANS) regulations, and the only retailer that’s an Afrox gas partner, we want to provide South Africans with the essential information about gas usage, safety and maintenance. That way, we can help families use gas as a safe, efficient energy alternative during these colder months to keep their homes warm while complying with national safety regulations.”

Installing gas in your home 

Since LPG cannot burn without air, there can never be a “flashback” in the cylinder. Best of all, because the gas is in a cylinder, you can move it around the house, or even take it outside. Before you can enjoy the benefits of gas, your gas installation must comply with the SANS installation regulations guide, which provide you should:

  • Never install gas bottles less than 1m away from doors, windows, air vents and ducting
  • Ensure all gas copper pipes going through a wall are sleeved to provide an additional layer of protection
  • Ensure your gas installation has a certificate of conformity for gas appliances (such as gas braais, stoves and ovens, as well as gas-heated water systems)

Connecting gas to an appliance

When connecting a gas cylinder to an appliance, ensure the connection is tight and there’s no gas smell. All gas appliances have rubber or fibre washers to seal the connection, and these should be checked and replaced by licensed LPG installers or service companies only.

Essential safety measures you must consider when connecting your gas cylinder to an appliance include:

  • Opening the valve only one-and-a-half turns 
  • Lighting the gas burner before opening the gas if the appliance lacks auto-ignition 
  • Placing LPG cylinders on a firm surface 
  • Shutting off the gas supply when the appliance is not in use 
  • Ensuring the valve is clean before connecting it to the gas

Detecting gas leaks 

Most gas leaks occur because of defective rubber tubing, faulty regulator fittings, and the improper handling of gas appliances. The most obvious way to detect a leak is by smell. LPG is colourless and odourless, so the “gas” smell is an odorant added to the mixture to help you detect leaks.

There’s an easy way to check if your cylinder is leaking. First, open the gas cylinder, but keep the appliance knob closed (this will allow pressure to build up in the system). Next, apply soapy water to the valve area using a sponge. If there’s a gas leak, bubbles will form at the point of the leak. If your cylinder is leaking, turn off the gas bottle and replace it immediately.

Know when your gas cylinder is empty 

There is a simple test you can do to find out how much gas is left in your cylinder.

First, pour hot water down one side of the bottle. A line of condensation will appear, indicating the gas level inside. If you don’t see a condensation line, run your hand down the side of the bottle — you should feel a distinct change in temperature at the gas level. The surface will be hotter where there is no gas and cooler where there is. If you don’t notice a difference, the cylinder may be empty. 

“Gas cylinders are pressurised, so never refill an empty cylinder yourself. If you attempt to remove or refill the gas yourself, you could suffer a potentially fatal accident. When your cylinder is empty, return it to your local Builders or go online, where we have the correct equipment to replace, refill and exchange gas cylinders safely,” says Nadar.