Gas Safety

Gas is potentially deadly - both from gas leaks and from carbon monoxide poisoning. The explosion at Per and Susannes has not only destroyed their house but also their lives and has emphasised the dangers of gas.

I do a lot of work around the area and have seen (and rectified) some lethal gas installations. Only recently I fixed 2 gas leaks on a water heater that had been there since the unit had been installed by a DIY'er who had then sold the house to my customer - this is just one of many problems I have seen. They had no contract and as far as they knew (it was obvious!) the installation had never been inspected.

It may be tempting to buy a bottle from a 'friend' to avoid the cost of getting a gas contract BUT a contract gives you the following:
  • Repsol check your installation to ensure it is safe and does not leak - this includes the pipe work, flue, hoses, regulators.
  • You get a written (and drawn) description of your installation that was checked. If you add to your installation you need to get the additions checked.
  • You get a 5 year insurance policy which covery you if you have any accidents such as an explosion or carbon dioxide poisoning
  • You can buy additional gas bottles LEGALLY, should you need them

You need to renew your contract every 5 years - it's YOUR responsibility to request the renewal - don't wait for Repsol to contact you.
Some things to check (THIS IS NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST):
  • The orange hoses have a month and date on them. After this date they are NO LONGER SAFE. If yours don't have a date or the date has passed then IT IS NOT SAFE!
  • Where the tube attaches to the regulator there is a small plate - it should have a date in the form MM-DD. This is the date of manufacture. If it doesn't IT IS NOT SAFE! Ideally it should be no more than 5 years old.
  • Flue pipes from water heaters and boilers must be in rigid tube - NOT CORRUGATED. If it is corrugated IT IS NOT SAFE!
  • In any room where there is a gas appliance you MUST have ventilation - this must be no higher than 30CM above the floor and a minimum of 10CM square. WINDOWS AND DOORS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.
  • Gas water heaters MUST NOT BE INSTALLED in bathrooms or bedrooms.
  • If the gas bottle is not near the appliance (i.e. it is outside and the appliance is inside) then it MUST have an isolation valve close to the appliance.
  • The maximum length for the orange gas hose is 1.5 metres. Any extra must be in copper pipe.
  • Fixed gas hobs and ovens MUST be connected with rigid copper. Only the connection from the copper to the gas bottle can be in rubber hose.
  • If a gas pipe supplies multiple appliances (i.e. fridge, cooker, fire) then EVERY appliance needs its own isolation valve.

Gas appliances should be serviced once a year to ensure they are safe and working properly. The service should include:
  • Making sure the connections are all safe and perishable items are replaced if their life has expired.
  • Checking there are no obstructions in the Flue - birds do like nesting in them!
  • Making sure the burners are clean and the flame is blue NOT YELLOW - a yellow flame is a sign of a possible problem.
  • Cleaning any filters to remove any sediment (water in the campo often has debris in it and clogs up filters)

When you remove the seal from the top of a new gas bottle check the black rubber ring to make sure there are not any nicks or chunks missing from it. If there are, take it back as it may leak. I have seen a couple of bottles like this in the past.

If you do smell gas:
  • Donít smoke or strike matches
  • Donít turn electrical switches on or off - you could ignite the gas.
  • Do put out naked flames
  • Do open doors and windows
  • Do keep people away from the affected area
  • If your gas bottle is accessible, disconnect it

This article is intended to highlight some of the things you can check yourself to see if your installation is safe. If you have any doubts about your system then get it checked, and irrespective of who checks it GET A CONTRACT!

Can't happen to me?...
Friday, January 26, 2007 - One dead, 22 injured in dawn gas explosion
Thursday, February 1, 2007 - Expat couple killed in gas heater tragedy