Why You Can’t Always Smell a Propane Gas Leak

Conditions in Your Home or in Your Body Can Make It Difficult to Detect

propane leaks tennesseeYou may have noticed that your propane company mails you information from time to time to keep you informed about propane safety. You may recall finding a “Scratch and Sniff” test—allowing you to easily recognize the distinct smell of propane.

In its natural form, propane is odorless, but manufacturers deliberately add a chemical compound to give it a strong unpleasant smell. This odorized propane is usually described as something similar to the odor of rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray.

However, there are situations that may prevent you from detecting that telltale odor. Sometimes, conditions in your home – or in your body – can make it harder to pick up propane’s scent.

Commonly known as “odor loss,” this can be caused by:

  • Too much air, water, or rust in your propane tank
  • A propane leak underground (soil diffuses propane’s odor)
  • Odor “sticking” to the inside of the propane distribution pipes
  • Diminished sense of smell, caused by old age, sinus congestion or other medical conditions,

With this in mind, it is important to take these two precautions for propane leaks:

  1. Install a propane gas detector (or detectors, depending on the size and layout of your home). A propane gas detector is an inexpensive but vital piece of safety equipment; follow manufacturer’s instructions for placement and maintenance.
  2. When in doubt, follow propane safety procedures. React immediately to even the faintest propane odor, following propane safety measures to get your family to safety.

What to Do if You Smell Gas

  • Extinguish all smoking materials and any open flames or other sources of ignition. Everyone should vacate the building, vehicle or area.
  • Move away without using any electric switches, appliances, thermostats or telephones.
  • If it is safe to do so, close the gas shutoff valve on the propane tank or cylinder.
  • Call your propane supplier or your local fire department from a mobile phone or a neighbor’s telephone.
  • Even if you do not continue to smell propane, do not open or turn on the propane supply valve. Do not reenter the building, vehicle or area. Let a qualified propane service technician or emergency personnel check for escaped propane.
  • Have a properly trained propane service technician repair the leak. The propane service technician or emergency responder needs to determine that the leak situation has been fully resolved. The propane service technician should check all of your gas appliances and relight any appliance pilots.
  • Return to your home only when the service technician or emergency responder indicates that it is safe to do so.

Preventive Maintenance

Without question, propane is one of the safest fuels you can choose for your Tennessee home. But to stay as safe as possible, you should always pay close attention to the operation of your gas appliances. The best way to keep all your propane equipment running properly is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preventive maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manuals for what’s required.

More safety tips

When appliances operate properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames—or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment–the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide. Contact your propane company or HVAC contractor for service if you notice a yellow flame or soot on your appliances.

You should also regularly check the outdoor vents of your appliances to make sure combustion gases flow unobstructed to the outdoors. Insects, birds and small animals have been known to build nests in vent pipes. To prevent any damage, use a broom or a soft brush to gently remove any obstructions you find in your vents.

You can read more safety tips here.

If you have questions or concerns about propane safety, be sure to consult with your local Tennessee propane company.

Read Our 12 Safety Tips

space heater safety tennesseePropane heaters serve a lot of purposes. They can provide heating to spaces where your home’s HVAC system doesn’t reach. Propane indoor heaters heat a space faster and more efficiently with lower energy costs than an electric indoor heater.

You have a range of choices when it comes to propane indoor heaters for your Tennessee home. There are portable indoor propane heaters, wall-mounted propane indoor heaters, forced air propane indoor heaters and radiant indoor propane heaters.

Here are 12 tips to help make sure you are using your propane indoor heater safely.

  1. Choose a propane heater that’s the right size for your room or space, and carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  2. Carefully read manufacturer’s instructions before using your propane indoor space heater.
  3. Your indoor propane heater should have features such as a low oxygen sensor, high-temperature coated safety guard on the front, overheat protection and automatic shutoff if it tips over.
  4. Make sure your propane indoor space heater is installed on a non-combustible surface away from where people walk and that it is positioned safely away from combustible materials such as furniture, curtains, doors, bedding and towels. If you use a wall-mounted room heater, make sure your wall material is non-combustible.
  5. Never place anything on top of an indoor propane space heater.
  6. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, or the space where you use your indoor propane space heater.
  7. Never leave an indoor propane heater unattended. Turn the heater off when you leave the room. And make sure your propane indoor space heater is turned off before you go to bed.
  8. If your propane indoor heater has a yellow or orange flame instead of a blue one, stop using it immediately because the gas is not burning properly.Get professional service to fix the problem.
  9. Use your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment to carefully vacuum up any dust on the outside of the propane indoor space heater and on the grills.
  10. Never spray air fresheners, deodorants, aerosol spray cleaners or hair spray near an indoor propane space heater.
  11. Have your vented propane indoor space heater inspected annually.
  12. Make sure pathways to all of a space’s exits are clear when you’re using your indoor propane space heater.

Contact your propane company if you would like advice about purchasing and installing a propane space heater. Read more propane safety tips.

propane efficiency tennesseeThere has been a push in recent years to make electricity the default energy choice for everything in our homes. These efforts are based on the inaccurate claim that this all-electrification movement will reduce our carbon footprint. But the fact is, this strategy could have a major negative impact on our homes, our comfort, our planet and our wallets.

On the surface, electricity may seem “cleaner” than propane, but it’s not. Electricity production generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 63% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.*

Propane is by far, the more environmentally-friendly choice because its low-carbon, high-energy output and versatility makes it a perfect fuel for everyone.

Fast Facts From the Propane Education Research Council

  • The Energy Star program gives propane a source site ratio of 1.01, compared to 3.03 for electricity from the grid. This means it takes 3.03 units of electricity to produce and deliver one unit of energy to a home, compared to only 1.01 for propane
  • Propane is electric grid-free, making it a valuable partner energy source at solar and wind generation facilities when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
  • Energy should be affordable so that no one has to go without, but the share of income that low-income households spent on electricity rose by one-third in the last decade.
  • Propane produces 43% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid.

The Problem With Electric Heat Pumps

When it’s really cold, there isn’t generally enough heat energy outside for your heat pump to keep you comfortable. The house just never seems to warm up. If temperatures drop to the single digits, many people complain that they can’t get their home much above 60 degrees.

You may end up using all sorts of electric space heaters, which are the most expensive way to generate heat. Or you may also rely on backup electric strips, which are also expensive and often emit a burnt odor; this is caused by dust and other residue that has built up around the strips.

This lack of warmth is a common problem with older heat pumps. Although new technology supposedly has made heat pumps more efficient and better suited to colder climates, it seems as if most propane consumers are not sold on that yet and don’t want to risk their comfort on electric heat.

Heat pump conversions are also expensive! Plus, the average electricity consumption for Tennessee households is 33% higher than the national average and among the highest in the country. What’s more, about two-thirds of Tennessee residents already heat with electricity, also a greater proportion than the U.S. average.**

Our Aging Power Grid

The electric infrastructure in this country fails us time and time again, causing massive disruption, frustration, and discomfort. Most of today’s grid was built in the years following World War II. But now, it’s reaching capacity and old equipment is failing. Upgrading our electric infrastructure will be a massive—and ultra-expensive– undertaking. The last thing we need right now is for the electric grid to be strained by an enormous new demand—by electric cars, all-electric homes, and more.

Propane: The Clear, Clean Choice

Because propane has such a low carbon content, it produces next to zero greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants, making it a clean-burning energy source that can reliably fuel homes, heat water, and even power vehicles.

Propane generates more Btu than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy.  Propane furnaces produce much higher indoor air temperatures than their electric counterparts, guaranteeing that you will keep your home toasty warm even during the most frigid nights of a Tennessee winter.

Also, clean-burning propane appliances are efficient, because they waste very little fuel in the combustion process, unlike electric-powered appliances.

That’s why, hands down, propane is better for the environment and for your home comfort. Read more about propane vs. electricity. You can also learn more about propane and the environment here.

Sources:
*https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/electricity-in-the-us.php
**EIA, Tennessee State Profile and Energy Estimates.

Pool heaters tennessee

If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, count yourself as among the fortunate ones who have an outlet for the kids to find some respite from cabin fever. Even if the summer temperatures haven’t set it in, you can enjoy your pool sooner—and later into the fall—by heating your pool with propane. That can make a huge difference with many summer plans and camps canceled due to Coronavirus concerns.

A high-efficiency propane pool heater (sometimes referred to as a gas pool heater) can cost about half as much to operate as an electric pool heater. And if you rely on one propane fuel and service provider, they know your home’s heating source and can seamlessly integrate your pool heater and install it quickly and properly. You can’t trust that expertise to just any “pool guy.”

How Does a Propane Pool Heater Work?

A propane pool heater simply burns gas to warm water from the pool pump then cycles the water back into the pool. That’s why propane pool heaters are an ideal choice for in-ground and aboveground pools and spas.

Propane pool heaters are:

  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Ultra-efficient
  • Extremely durable and reliable
  • Eco-friendly
  • Available in a number of sizes and colors

Propane Pool Heaters vs. Electric and Other Pool Heating Options

Propane pool heaters have distinct advantages over other pool heater types, including:

  • Electric heat pump heaters – While this system is a more cost-effective than using a simple electric element pool heater, it needs to use surrounding air to warm water in the pool – which means it can only produce water that’s slightly warmer than the temperature of the air. That’s a problem if you feel like a swim when there’s a chill in the air.
  • Solar pool heaters –These have higher upfront costs and take longer to heat your pool compared to a propane pool heater. A solar system also doesn’t work at night or on cloudy days when the sun isn’t at its brightest.
  • Natural gas – If you have natural gas service in your neighborhood, keep in mind that propane pool heaters give you the same performance of natural gas heaters without the expensive hardware and hassle needed to connect to your home’s gas line.

To learn more about propane pool heaters and the many other ways you can take full advantage of propane inside and outside your home, please contact your Tennessee propane service provider and they’ll be glad to give you advice.

energy efficient propane tennesseeDo you know why propane is such an efficient fuel? To start with, propane burns hot and clean. That’s why propane-powered appliances can achieve efficiency ratings that reach well into the 90% range. In fact, propane will outperform its other-powered counterparts, especially electric ones, in just about any home comfort application, including:

  • Water Heating. Close to a third of the energy you use in your home is spent on heating your water. When you consider that, on average, a propane-powered water heater can deliver that hot water much more efficiently and faster than an electric water heater, relying on propane for all your hot water needs remains a wise choice.
  • Home Heating.  A propane gas furnace will heat air to about 130-140 º and operate in short intervals to minimize operating costs while maximizing warmth. This is quite different than an electric heat pump, which produces air that can feel cool to the touch. On cold nights, a heat pump must rely on its onboard electric heat backup to keep pace; once that backup system kicks in, your heating bills can go higher than you thought. For cold winter days and nights, propane wins again. Read more about using propane to heat your home.
  • Propane fireplaces. If you’ve converted your old wood fireplace to a modern gas log set– or upgraded to an efficient, clean-burning propane fireplace insert – you’re enjoying a host of benefits. Besides great ambience or less maintenance, it costs anywhere from 30-60% less to operate a propane gas fireplace per hour than a wood-burning fireplace, which loses much of its heat through the chimney. Read more about fireplaces.
  • Space heaters. High-efficiency direct-vent propane space heaters are another way to raise the efficiency levels in your home. By enabling targeted, high-efficiency zone heating to the most used rooms in your living space, you won’t have to rely as much on your primary furnace. Read more about space heaters.

The bottom line: when it comes to efficiently powering your home comfort equipment, propane is a champion, especially when compared to electricity. That means more comfort for you.

Are you thinking about adding a propane-powered appliance? Your local propane company will be glad to give you advice. Contact them today to learn about the many benefits and options for clean, green propane power in your Tennessee home. Be sure to check out our Rebates page to see how you can save money on your investment in new propane equipment.

storm propane safety tennesseeJune is an eventful month, from Father’s Day to beautiful brides to the summer solstice, the official start of summer and the longest day of the year. June also happens to be National Propane Safety Month. So, it’s a perfect time to review some safety guidelines so you can enjoy a safe summer with propane.

  • Make sure all adults in your household know how to shut off the flow of gas from your propane storage tank. This is a recommended step if you ever smell propane gas—but shut off the valve only if you feel it’s safe to do so. If you are not sure how to turn off the valve, ask your propane supplier the next time you’re getting a propane delivery.
  • Remember that a propane leak smells like rotten eggs. While propane is odorless, manufacturers incorporate an odor into it to alert homeowners in case of a gas leak. It’s important to confirm that everyone in the home is able to recognize the smell—and what to do afterward. In the event that you or others in your home may have trouble smelling propane, make plans to install one or more propane gas detectors.
  • Never store portable propane cylinders indoors or in an enclosed area such as a basement, garage, shed, or tent.
  • Never use outdoor propane equipment (grills, portable generators, etc.) indoors. Carbon monoxide (CO) from these devices is a dangerous and potentially deadly hazard.
  • Test and replace batteries when needed in all of the carbon monoxide detectors in your home every few months. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions regarding maintenance. Know how to spot the symptoms of CO poisoning, and what to do if someone is experiencing them. Make sure your smoke detectors are operating properly also. Read more about carbon monoxide safety.

Staying Safe During Storms

Tennessee residents are no strangers to damaging storms, but it never hurts to do a quick safety review. Here are some reminders.

  • Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it with your family. Your list should include instructions on how to turn off your propane and water supply.
  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of propane in your tank, including enough to power your generator. After a major electrical or wind storm, propane (and other fuels) may not be readily available and roads may be inaccessible.
  • Never turn on a light switch, use any power source, or inspect your household appliances while standing in water! This avoids the risk of electrocution.
  • After the storm passes, carefully check your property for downed power lines, damaged gas lines or damage to your propane tank and appliances. Contact your propane company to report any damage.

Other Tips

  • Charge all communications equipment – cellphones, laptops, tablets, etc. – in advance of the storm.
  • Stock up on bags of ice to preserve perishable food.
  • Withdraw cash and gas up your car before the storm arrives; power outages could leave you unable to access these essentials.
  • If high winds are predicted, secure lawn furniture and other objects in your yard.
  • Clear storm drains of any debris that could clog and back up rain water.

If You Have A Propane Generator

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it safely.
  • Have it professionally serviced at least once a year to keep it running properly.
  • Remember to refuel after use.

Read more consumer safety tips for propane.

propane gas tips tennessee

The blue propane gas flame you see when you use your propane cooktop means all is well, combustion-wise.

When the ratio of fuel to air is correct, there is enough oxygen for complete combustion of propane. Complete combustion and a blue flame mean that your propane is burning at its full heat, so you aren’t wasting any expended energy.

What If The Flame Is Orange Or Yellow?

Orange or yellow propane gas flames mean that the propane is not being completely burned. When these color flames occur on the burners of a propane cooktop, the cause is usually related to a burner being out of adjustment or blockages in the air inlet, such as from small, burnt food particles.

This results in decreased fuel efficiency. Check out the difference in temperatures. In complete combustion with a blue-colored flame, the temperature of a propane flame is 3,596° F.

However, with a yellow or orange flame, the flame’s temperature decreases all the way down to 1,832° F. With only half the heat energy now at your disposal, you’ll probably notice difficulties caused by uneven temperature when cooking. For example, you likely won’t be able to achieve even browning or searing when cooking a meal.

This same inefficiency will result in higher energy bills if a yellow or orange flame is present in your home’s heating or water heating system. Who wants to wash clothes, cook, bathe, clean or heat your home using only half of propane’s power?

Even more importantly, yellow or orange flames can pose a safety risk. The incomplete combustion that causes these off-color flames can lead to a carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

So, if you are seeing yellow or orange flames, or notice a build-up of soot or carbon around your burners, contact your propane service contractor equipment as soon as possible and get the problem corrected.

Smell Gas? Follow These Tips

If you smell propane in your home, please take heed of these suggestions.

  • DO make an attempt to turn off the valves at the tank, but only if it is safe to do so.
  • DO make sure everyone leaves the home and gets away from nearby areas.
  • DO place a call to your propane supplier as well as the fire department. Make these calls with a phone that is away from the home.
  • DO NOT light matches anywhere inside or near the home.
  • DO NOT use light switches inside the home.
  • DO NOT look for the leak.
  • DO NOT attempt to relight your pilot light or repair your appliance.
  • DO NOT make any calls from inside your home or from any nearby areas.
  • DO NOT come back to the area until first responders have let you know that it safe to do so

Please read more propane safety tips.

generator options tennesseeThe fragile electric infrastructure in this country has failed us time and again, causing massive disruption, frustration, and discomfort. We all followed with sadness the tragic, widespread energy disaster that occurred in Texas last winter. And we’ve all experienced a number of uncomfortable power outages in Tennessee over the years as well.

In preparation, some folks keep gasoline-powered portable generators in their garage for power outage emergencies. But these units have the capacity to deliver only a limited amount of power. They can also be dangerous if not vented properly.

On the other hand, a whole-house backup propane generator allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home and keeps you safe when power is disrupted. With a propane-powered standby generator, your power will restart automatically within seconds after an outage, and it will stay on until power is restored – all without the hassles or carbon monoxide dangers that come with using portable gasoline generators.

Permanently installed–similar to an outdoor A/C unit–and supplied by a propane tank–propane generators are available in a variety of capacities to fit the needs of any size home in Tennessee.

Why A Whole-House Propane Generator?

Protect Your Comfort

With a propane whole-house backup generator, you’ll get through a summer outage with your air conditioning keeping the house cool. If you lose power in the winter, your home will stay at a safe, warm temperature so you’ll be comfortable.

Protect Your Loved Ones

Is there someone in your home who relies on medical equipment such as oxygen, home dialysis, or an electric wheelchair? A propane whole-house backup generator keeps their vital equipment running.

Protect Your Food

Some of the foods in your refrigerator can begin to spoil in just a few hours after the power goes out. You could end up throwing out hundreds of dollars’ worth of food–from your refrigerator and freezer–without a propane whole-house backup generator.

Protect Your Electronics

A backup generator powers your laptop, phone, TV, gaming system and more. You can work safely from home; you and your family will stay entertained, and you can stay connected with loved ones and the world outside as you await updates on restored power.

If you don’t have a propane generator yet and would like to explore your options, reach out to your propane company. If they don’t install generators, they can probably refer you to someone who does.

outdoor propane appliances tennesseeTennesseans have spent a lot more time lounging in their backyard since COVID-19 entered our lives a little over a year ago. While everyone is cautiously optimistic about the end of restrictions soon as the nationwide vaccine roll-out accelerates, there’s no reason not to enhance your outdoor living opportunities in your own backyard.

So, with another spring here, why not start thinking about further ways to take advantage of all of the outdoor uses for propane? Here are a few ideas.

Propane Grills Make Cooking Easy And Fun

There are a lot of reasons propane grills are the most common grills owned in the United States. If you don’t have one, you’re missing out on a lot.

First, it’s quicker and easier than charcoal. In the time it takes to get out the charcoal, the lighter fluid, other accessories and finally get the grill fire started, your propane grill would already be grilling your burgers and hot dogs.

And, when you’re done, all you have to do is turn off the grill, shut off the propane and clean the grate. No waiting for coal embers to cool or dealing with soot and ashes. Second, propane grills offer more precise control for better grilling results. Whether you cook on a simple portable or a high-tech built-in model, you’ll get the same even-cooking performance time after time, with no starter fluid smell, dangerous chemicals, or mess.

Propane Outdoor Heaters

It often gets a bit chilly when the sun goes down. With propane patio and deck heaters, you can stay outside later and extend your outdoor season to earlier in the spring and later into the fall!

With freestanding or wall-mounted models available, you’re sure to find a propane outdoor heater that meets your needs and budget – and one that will work even if the power goes out.

Propane Fire Pits

If you love gathering around a fire pit on a cool night, toasting marshmallows or enjoying a glass of wine with friends, propane can make that experience even better. With a fire pit, you get a real fire and real heat with propane with a flip of a switch. No messing with firewood or waiting for it to start roaring. And once you’re done, just turn it off and go inside with no worries. Many models have ignition systems that can be turned on and off with a smartphone. And unlike wood fire pits, there’s no mess to clean up.

Propane Lighting

Before electricity became widely used, gas was the common source for both indoor and outdoor lighting for homes. With propane, you can get that classic warm light to make your patio and pathways glow. In most cases, it’s cheaper than electricity and works even when the power is out. Propane-powered outdoor lights can burn for just pennies per hour, and they can be matched with almost any outdoor décor.

Propane Pool And Spa Heaters

Enjoy a swim or a soak in your backyard spa throughout the season by investing in a propane pool heater, which will heat your pool water quickly and efficiently – and far more effectively than an electric model.

Please go here to read more about how propane can make life easier and more fun—inside and outside your home!

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propane home heating tennesseeOur country is experiencing a short-term energy crisis due to extreme winter weather, rising prices and wide-spread power failures that left millions of people without heat.
Fortunately, millions of Americans have been able to rely on propane for warmth, hot water and cooking– even if their power goes out. Watch this short video.

The Rush To Electricity

That’s why it’s so alarming that many officials in government—at the federal, state and municipal level– continue to push for the increased use of electricity in favor of other fuels. In the case of homes, that would mean replacing propane, natural gas, oil-fired heating systems with electric heat pumps.

But heat pump conversions are expensive and do not work very efficiently when the weather gets cold. Plus, electricity is not a clean fuel. It is generated at power plants. Electricity production generates the second-largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 63% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.*

Electric Heat In Tennessee

This is an important issue for Tennesseans. The average electricity consumption for Tennessee households is 33% higher than the national average and among the highest in the country. What’s more, about two-thirds of Tennessee residents already heat with electricity, also a greater proportion than the U.S. average.**

Our Aging Power Grid

It is feared that an all-out “electrify everything” policy would increase the average residential household cost, result in minimal reductions in emissions and put a severe strain on our aging electric grid.

The fact is, the electric infrastructure in this country fails us time and time again, causing massive disruption, frustration, and discomfort. The massive energy disaster that occurred in Texas is just the latest example.

Here’s another alarming fact: most of today’s grid was built in the years following World War II. But now, it’s reaching capacity and old equipment is failing.

Considering that the U.S. Department of Energy has called the electric grid in our country the largest machine on the planet, upgrading our electric infrastructure will be a massive—and ultra-expensive– undertaking.

Propane: The Clear, Clean Choice

Because propane has such a low carbon content, it produces next to zero greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants, making it a clean-burning energy source that can reliably fuel homes, heat water, and even power vehicles.

Propane generates more Btu than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy. Also, clean-burning propane appliances are efficient, because they waste very little fuel in the combustion process, unlike electric-powered appliances.

That’s why, hands down, propane is better for the environment and for your home. Read more about propane vs. electricity. You can also learn more about propane and the environment here.

Sources:
*https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/electricity-in-the-us.php
**EIA, Tennessee State Profile and Energy Estimates.