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Preventing gas leaks following deadly explosion

Customer-owned equipment being investigated
bge gas leaks.png
Posted at 5:43 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2021-03-17 20:08:01-04

BALTIMORE — The cause of a deadly gas explosion that leveled three homes and killed two people in Northwest Baltimore last Monday is still being investigated.

However, on Friday, BGE concluded its equipment—gas mains, gas service pipes and gas meters, as well as electric equipment—had been operating safely and was not the cause of the natural gas explosion.

"We have found no leaks or no deficiencies on our end when it comes to our equipment,” said Tasha Jamerson, communications manager for BGE.

Investigators are also looking at whether a defect somewhere inside of the home could’ve led to disaster.

Equipment Responsibility
Property owners are responsible for maintaining all gas lines on their side of the meter. Customer-owned gas lines include all piping that goes from the gas meter to the appliances on your property.

John Baumgart, a plumbing manager with Michael & Son Services in Baltimore, recommends hiring a professional to periodically check for corrosion and leaks, particularly the water heater, furnace, dryer, stove, gas fireplace and interior gas lines.

“A lot of the appliances like the dryer or the stove or the fireplace would have flexible gas connectors that go from the hard pipe to the appliance itself and sometimes we see the nuts that are on there, which make the connection, loosen up over time,” said Baumgart.

This should be an annual inspection, or sooner if you suspect something is up. And the age of the home doesn’t necessarily matter.

“You could have a situation in a brand new home where something wasn’t properly installed or it was and someone bumped into an appliance and it damaged a gas line. Sometimes with dryers, they tend to walk a little bit when they’re not balanced and it could actually damage the gas line behind the dryer itself,” Baumgart said.

And when getting appliances installed or repaired, make sure to work with licensed professionals.

Detecting a gas leak
One of the easiest ways to detect a natural gas leak is by its scent. Natural gas is odorless and colorless but Mercaptan is added to produce a rotten egg smell.

If you hear hissing, blowing, or roaring, it could be gas escaping.

And if you see dirt being blown around, dead plants, or water bubbling that may be another sign.

"If you smell natural gas, if you suspect you smell natural gas, please please err on the side of caution. Leave the area immediately, get to a safe location and then call BGE," said Jamerson.

If there's an issue and you're not sure who to call, contact BGE first at 877-778-7798 or 1-800-685-0123. Emergency gas service calls are answered 24/7. A service person will respond quickly, free of charge.

BGE's gas leak survey team also regularly checks meters for leaks and provide advance notice to customer when they’re doing this kind of work near your home.