Annual Inspection of Mechanical Systems and Gas Lines Could Be Life Saving

An unusual plumber’s call in New York City has plumbers around the country shaking their heads. The plumber removed several gas stove-top burners, then found a dead cockroach that he couldn’t see when he turned off any of the gas valves.

“This is very dangerous,” said an engineer who asked not be identified for fear of reprisals from his company. “If this plumber hadn’t called to complain about the stove, there would have been no way to know.”

More deaths from gas plumes are reported each year, he said. “They know what to look for.” Rogers, with Laguna Plumbing added that homeowners themselves should be wary of any plumber who is unwilling to inspect gas lines at least yearly.

Each year, all-natural gas appliances become increasingly less safe because dead leaves and other debris collect around them and clog venting. After a winter season, however, most consumers forget or neglect their annual inspection until they smell gas again next spring or fall when flues get opened up after the heating and cooling seasons terminate for the year,” he said.

“Households with fireplaces should also have an immediate annual inspection every time they fire up those chimneys.”

A plumber’s annual check should not only include the obvious gas appliances and flues, but also all vents and drip pipes to make certain they are clear of blockage. “Standing water around a furnace or hot-water heater can indicate significant damage to those systems,” cautioned Coventry.

Most plumbers know that natural gas is colorless; it has no taste or smell . “But you still need to be alert for the odor of rotten eggs,” he added.

According to plumbers, gas is usually lighter than air and rises in a plume in the opposite direction in which it is moving. Gas plumes are approximately one foot thick with wider plumes higher off the ground.

“You may not always smell gas or see plumes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t too much of it around you,” Rogers declared. “That’s when an annual inspection by your plumber can save your life.” Rogers also said plumbers should get more familiar with gas-detection devices. “More plumbers these days are buying detectors and testing their capabilities on the job,” he said.

“I recommend everyone have one of those little scanners where you can trace the source by waving it near a gas appliance,” Rogers added. “That’s better than waiting for a plumber to show up.”

Almost all plumbers agree that gas is more dangerous than electric, but that work around electrical appliances should not be taken lightly either.

“If there is enough current flowing through an appliance such as a stove, light or even some computer equipment, it will generate heat,” Rogers explained. “And if something burns on the coil of an electric stove, it can cause a fire.”

“Most plumbers will test for current leakage during their inspection, but that’s more common on homes that are at least 10 years old,” he added. “I tell plumbers to check all appliances and wiring in the home every year because disasters do happen.”

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