Be Gas Safety Aware!

Gas bottle leakage - Credit APChanel / Shutterstock.com

Mark Paddon Building Surveyor has investigated gas explosion cases in Spain for leading insurers.

Here is his advice for property owners to keep safe:- When it comes to gas, a moment of carelessness can literally destroy a building and lives. The force of a gas explosion should never be underestimated. If a quarter of your standard sized gas bottle (from a heater or hob) discharged into your home, the explosion could destroy the whole house and even a larger building (if in an apartment block). Many smaller town houses and ‘bungalows’ in Spain have shared floor voids, so even if you don’t have gas, a neighbour’s gas installation could still put your home at risk. The main reasons for gas escape in Spanish homes, other than simply leaving an unlit gas appliance on, are as follows:-

  • Poorly secured flexible gas pipe – Most of us are familiar with the orange flexi pipes which fix to the ribbed metal pipe on the regulator and appliance. It is important that the pipe slides over all ribs and this is impossible to do unless you dip the end of the pipe in a cup of hot water before pushing it on. There must also be a jubilee clip securing the pipe around the ribbed area. Gas pipes have a date on them, this date indicates when the pipe should be renewed. If ignored the pipe can perish and crack.
  • Pipe fatigue where not sleeved through walls/floors:- Buildings can move slightly through thermal movement, seasonal ground movement or issues such as subsidence. Gas pipes must run freely via the structure through a larger sleeve, otherwise a few years of movement can finally fracture a metal pipe.
  • Pipe joint leaks:- A good gas fitter will test all joints with a foamy solution e.g. of washing up liquid and water, to see if bubbles appear, but MOST DON’T TEST!. If this test has not been carried out, leaks could well occur from day one. Movement of appliances like sliding a cooker in and out, could loosen a joint, in time (especially where the pipe is rigid).
  • Ventilation :- All rooms, stores or voids that house gas appliances should be adequately ventilated to the outside of the house with an airbrick. Check that these have not been blocked in any way. (Vents can help disperse gas if a leak takes place and are also needed to ensure adequate fresh air supply).

IF YOU SMELL GAS:-

  • Do not turn any lights on! (The spark can be enough to ignite the gas).
  • Open the closest window/door and leave the building, telling all others to do the same. Do not gather outside the building, move a safe distance away.
  • Call emergency services.

Note that disconnection of external power (e.g. from a meter outside of the building) can reduce the risk of an appliance such a s a fridge, from igniting the gas. But do not touch any switches within the area of the gas escape. If you know your gas supply is external you could also switch the supply off from the outside of the house (an outside tap should be located where the gas enters the house or in the gas storage area).

If you have any doubts about gas safety get an authorised installer to check your installation.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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