According to the National Fire Protection Association, a Propane System Leak Test must be performed “Immediately after the gas is turned on into a new system or into system that has been initially restored after an interruption of service, the piping system shall be tested for leakage. If leakage is indicated, the gas supply shall be shut off until the necessary repairs have been made.” (NFPA 54 (2006) 8.2.3.
While home owners may think it’s unnecessary for a leak test on their propane system; not only is it required by law, it is necessary to ensure your propane system is safe for you, your family and your home.
What is a Leak Test?
A Leak test is a procedure performed to detect any leaks in your propane system due to new set-up, new service, interruption of service, or out of gas situations. It is done from a safety standpoint and is required by law.
Out of Gas = Required Leak Test
Learn more about the specifics behind leak testing: Propane Leak Test Explained.
When is a Leak Test Required?
Leak tests are required when:
- New service / Occupancy change
- New system
- After the tanks runs empty – ‘Out of Gas’ Situations
- Interruption of service (repairs, shut offs, new equipment, etc.)
- Suspected Leaks
- Disconnects and lock outs due to unpaid account balances
In addition, industry standard best practice calls for a thorough inspection of all system components, from the storage tank, to piping, to appliances at least once every 5 years.
What Happens when I have an “Out of Gas” Situation?
No matter the reason, when an “Out of Gas” situation occurs, the gas company must come and perform a leak test before the gas system can be turned back on. If any leaks are found during the test, the system is legally not allowed to be turned back on until the leaks have been repaired.
“Out of Gas” situations usually occur during the winter months when the weather is at its worst. Customers are responsible for checking their propane levels. Running out of gas can be avoided by signing up for automatic deliveries.
Is the Leak Test an Additional Charge?
There is never a charge for a leak test when switching to CES as your gas supplier or when establishing a new service. If you’ve discontinued the usage of your gas system such as closing a summer residence or a swimming pool heater; or if you run out of propane due to a past due balance, there is a charge.
Leak test are required by law when there is a new service, “out of gas” situations, interruption of services, and can be costly and time consuming to the company and customer. As always, proper maintenance on your system is recommended. But the leak test can be avoided by checking your gas levels regularly or signing up for automatic delivery.
Contact us today at 800-874-1975 or use this handy form below to request automatic delivery.
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There are few disasters that can occur in your home worse than a “puff-back” from a fuel oil heating system which puts a sticky, powder like substance on EVERYTHING in your home. A puff-back is no laughing matter and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean, normally by a professional cleaning company and painting crew. A puff-back can occur in your home if you have oil heating and can happen on a small scale, possibly contained to the furnace room or basement or can be wide spread through your entire home.
A puff-back can be caused by a variety of reasons, but it all boils down to lack of maintenance or improper repairs to your fuel oil fired heating system. A faulty ignition switch can be a typical culprit when it fails to properly ignite the incoming oil. The oil and fumes build inside the combustion chamber, not going out the chimney or vent. If the ignition is delayed long enough, it’s possible that a small explosion will occur as the oil finally ignites causing every bit of dust and soot that lives in your furnace or home’s duct work to get the sooty residue attached to it – spreading through your entire home quickly. Expect to see it on walls, drapes, carpets, furniture, bricks, morter and every item everyplace between.
The soot is a black and sticky. This dirty residue needs to be cleaned from every inch of your home as soon as possible since the odor will penetrate deeper the longer it stays on surfaces. The odor is difficult to remove and often requires professionals to come in and get it out of the house. A professional certified home restoration company that is experienced in restoring homes from smoke damage should be called in. Often they will use a process called “thermal fogging” which must be done by professionals.
This situation can also be caused gradually over a longer period of time. You will notice the black, sticky soot accumulating on walls, carpets or heating duct louvers.
There is no 100% guaranteed way to be sure you’ll never have a puff-back, but proper annual maintenace by a qualified, trained service provider that has continual training and modern electronic calibration testing equipment to make sure your heating system is running at optimal efficiency. Long gone are the days where the do-everything plumber could “tune-up” your heating system by using his eye and experience. Today’s heating systems require training and very often the capability of plugging in a portable laptop computer & electronic combustion analyzer that makes sure you’re getting the most heating from every gallon and cuts down the risk of costly problems in the cold winter ahead.
CES has been servicing heating systems for over 45 years (fuel oil, kerosene and propane gas) with an experienced staff that gets continual training all year and have the most up-to-date testing & calibration equipment on the market. There’s a reason why thousands of area residents trust CES to keep their family warm & safe – we do things right!
Recently, we’ve had quite a few customers come into our various locations to fill out-of-date propane tanks. There are both state and federal laws that dictate the filling and transportation of tanks. Another common issue is when customers come in with tanks that are either too large for the vehicle to safely transport or they are unable to secure them in a vehicle that can. We continually hear – “We’ve gotten them filled at other places. Why won’t you fill them?” Some retailers are willing to take the chance and try to avoid the fines or the risk of injury to a customer, but we aren’t.
From the mom coming in with the minivan full of kids, who has a 100 pound tank lying across the back seat to the Department of Transportation inspector trying to catch us filling a 100 pound tank lying down in the back of a pick-up, we’ve seen it all.
Below are a few of the rules that Combined Energy Services follow that govern safe filling and transportation of propane tanks. These are either state or federal regulations, not something that we just made up because we don’t want to fill your tanks.
- Consumer propane tanks from 4 to 40 pounds are required to be equipped with an overfill protection device (OPD valve).
- All propane tanks have a manufacturer’s date. A tank is good for 12 years from the date of manufacture and if recertified, every 5 years after that. What this means is that CES will not fill a tank that is out of date.
- National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA) 58 (Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code), Section 9.3.2:
- Propane tanks must be placed in an upright position and properly secured to prevent damage to the valves and fittings.
- 100 pound tanks cannot be transported lying down or in an enclosed vehicle. They must be upright and secured.
- Fines for filling and allowing the transport of out of date tanks is outrageous! CES can get a $10,000 dollar fine for filling an out of date tank or allowing one to leave our premises laying down/ or inside a vehicle as noted.
- CES recycles old propane tanks. We evacuate the gas and remove the valve. Please note that it is dangerous and illegal to throw propane tanks in the garbage. Old tanks can be dropped off at any CES location for free. The small 1 lb “Coleman” style portable tanks can be recycled for $1 each. See a Customer Service Rep for details.
We care about your safety, please don’t ask us to violate the law to fill your tanks.
To own or to lease? That is the question. But the answer might actually surprise you. Most propane customers in the U.S. lease their tank(s) from a supplier. There are a variety of valid reasons for this. Still there are individuals who desire to own their tanks. This article will explain the pros and cons of leasing vs. ownership.
Supplier Leased Tanks
- Most companies will provide, install and maintain a supplier leased propane tank. The gas company will also install the tank at a minimal cost or free. This typically includes everything needed to make the final connection. Be sure to ask ahead what is covered in the cost of the install. Normally, CES doesn’t charge for parts or installation if the gas used is for heat. Ask a rep for more information.
- Company owned tanks are maintained by the propane company and all the costs for any repairs are covered. This includes replacing the tank if any manufacturing/wear issues occur. There is never a charge to a CES customer when we provide a leased propane tank. Supplier leased tanks are regularly tested, certified and kept within compliance by the company and at no cost to the homeowner!
- In most cases, the tank is free to use if the homeowner buys a minimum amount of propane each year. We base the tank size to your usage in order to ensure adequate supply. A “Minimum use charges” takes place annually if a certain amount of gas hasn’t been used in a year for that size tank. For example: a customer may need a 500-gal tank for their 25-kW generator. This same customer doesn’t use any gas in the last year. In this case, an annual minimum use fee (basically a tank rental) would be charged.
- For steady usage such as water and home heating – the tank is sized in accordance with your usage and a fee typically isn’t charged. Ask us to explain the annual minimum usage expected on various size tanks to make sure you get the proper size to meet your needs.
- There is no need to worry about the tank when moving – the propane service gets transferred to the new home owner.
- Changing suppliers can often involve termination fees and delays while the propane supplier removes their tank.
Homeowner Owned Tanks
- Not being tied to a single propane supplier.
- No rental/lease fees.
- Purchasing a propane tank is an expensive investment – initial costs include the purchase of the tank (which can run you a few thousand dollars depending on tank size), permits, trenching, piping and fittings.
- Supply shortages – gas companies will take care of customers with leased equipment over customers that own their own tank; since purchases may not be steady or on automatic delivery. Staying with one supplier is very important especially when supply gets tight during long, cold winters. Tank ownership plays a big part as to who gets gas and who may be left out in the cold.
- The homeowner is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the tank – and all costs associated with it. One service call could end up costing the homeowner more than the annual rental or minimum use fee for low usage customers.
- Proper tank installation requires knowledge of industry regulations – most areas have specific regulations governing where and how a tank can be installed. Your propane company is already familiar with your state regulations and can easily determine specs.
- Safety of the tank is home-owners responsibility – most areas require owners to have their tanks re-certified (sometimes called re-qualified) every 5 – 10 years. Check with your local building inspector or state fire marshal before purchasing and installing a tank.
- Homeowner’s Insurance companies can charge higher premiums since now the tank and everything affixed to it is on you, no longer the gas supplier. Before purchasing any tank – ask the insurance carrier what their policy is on propane tank ownership. Often there are exclusions in policies for “pollution leakage” which insurance companies stretch to include propane leaks that may have caused fires/explosions. Be sure you are upfront and get the carrier’s approval before buying or installing any propane tank you plan on owning and them insuring.
- Tank maintenance – in time all propane tanks will need maintenance. Paint, valve changes, pressure relief valve required replacement, gauge replacements, re-leveling, etc. With a supplier leased tank, these unknown costs don’t come back to the homeowner. Especially if there is a leak on the tank which requires immediate service.
- Underground tanks and anode bags need regular maintenance. They are especially worrisome since anode bags, which protect the tank from deteriorating, need to be tested upon installation and then on a 24-month basis for the life of the tank. With a supplier loaned tank from Combined Energy Services, the testing is done automatically. Anodes are replaced as needed to protect the tank from rotting and protecting your home & family – all at no cost to you! Without documented regular tank testing, you immediately aren’t within compliance with NFPA codes. This can lead to insurance coverage problems or building department violations if documentation is requested.
- Propane tanks, just like oil tanks – can never be buried and forgotten about. As soon as metal is put in the ground it starts to deteriorate. By leasing a tank from CES, you’re assured the tank is kept within compliance and never at an expense to you.
- The liability is on the homeowner – insurance is required. Accidents happen whether you own or use a supplier leased tank, but the owner is liable if the tank caused a mishap because of undetected repairs needed.
With Combined Energy Services you can be assured of hassle-free service for your propane tank, distribution equipment and supply of gas! Contact us today to assist you in making an informed decision.
Combined Energy Services wants to take a moment to remind everyone of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 430 people in the United States die each year from accidental CO poisoning and approximately 50,000 people visit the emergency room. More than 8% of those visiting the OR are hospitalized.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, striking victims caught off guard or in their sleep.
This “invisible killer” is produced by burning fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces. When the gas builds up in enclosed spaces, people or animals who breathe it can be poisoned. Ventilation does not necessarily guarantee safety.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says about 170 people in the United States die every year from carbon monoxide produced by non-automotive consumer products, such as room heaters. That’s a whopping 60% of CO poisoning deaths! So as the weather turns colder, it’s important to take extra precautions.
Who is at Risk?
Exposure to carbon monoxide can result in permanent neurological damage or death, and anyone can be at risk. The CDC says infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing problems are more prone to illness or death, but carbon monoxide doesn’t discriminate – especially if certain conditions are present.
How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in My Home?
Winter can be a prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning as people turn on their heating systems and mistakenly warm their cars in garages.
The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. The CDC offers these additional tips:
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year. Combined Energy Services offer a variety of service plans (Propane – Fuel Oil/Kerosene) to take the worry away from system maintenance;
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors;
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes;
- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished;
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly;
- Never use a gas oven for heating your home;
- Never let a car idle in the garage;
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm. If you don’t have one, please go out and get one.
As with smoke alarms, make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas, and keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
You won’t know that you have a carbon monoxide leak without a working alarm. So, test alarms regularly and replace them every five to seven years depending on the manufacturer’s label.
For the best protection, have carbon monoxide alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
Carbon monoxide alarms are not interchangeable with smoke alarms, and vice versa. Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are available.
Replacing CO detectors
If you wonder if your carbon monoxide detectors are worn out, they probably are. CO detectors only have a five to seven-year life. In 2009, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) began requiring an end-of-life warning to alert homeowners when their carbon monoxide alarm has reached the end of its useful life. If there’s no date on yours and you can’t remember when you bought it, you’re probably due for a new CO monitor.
Here are two key things to look for when you buy replacements. First, pick a detector with a “fuel-cell electrochemical” sensor. This type is far more sensitive to CO and less prone to false alarms than models from just 10 years ago. There are other types of sensors on the market (metal oxide and gel cell) that offer longer life. But humidity and temperature changes can reduce their accuracy.
When it comes to detecting carbon monoxide, we recommend accuracy over detector life span. Second, experts recommend choosing a model with a digital readout and a “peak level” memory retention feature. That’s helpful to emergency personnel if they suspect CO poisoning. If you have small children, consider buying a talking CO detector. A voice warning is more effective than a horn at waking children.
Since carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air, it neither rises toward the ceiling nor sinks to the floor. Therefore, detectors that don’t have a digital display can be mounted anywhere if they’re at least 15 in. below ceilings.
Just make sure you install one on each level of your home. Locate them in hallways near bedrooms but at least 15 ft. away from fuel-burning appliances.
Steps to Take When Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds
The CPSC says never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm, and do not try to find the source of the gas. Instead, follow these steps:
- Immediately move outside to fresh air;
- Call emergency services, fire department or 911;
- Do a head count to check that all persons are accounted for;
- Do not reenter the premises until emergency responders have given you permission to do so.
- Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- The U.S. Fire Administration has put together materials on the dangers of carbon monoxide. Included is a list of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
Low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning is characterized by:
- Shortness of breath
High level carbon monoxide poisoning results in:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Loss of consciousness
Symptom severity varies depending on the level of carbon monoxide and duration of exposure. Mild symptoms sometimes are mistaken for flu.