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Converting From Oil Furnaces to Natural Gas In NE USA States Means Adding Gas Safety Devices, Too.

by Barbara 4. December 2014 09:04

Question about safety issues when converting from oil heat to gas heat.

Q: "A natural gas shale line from Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania may extend into the Northeastern states in the next year, if approved (Quote from CBS 12/3/2014) We currently are using oil heat. Replacing the furnace with natural gas will save us a lot of money. How can we avoid the health risks associated with natural gas?"Thanks Tom.

Answer: Continue using carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors as you have been doing, remembering to test them monthly and change batteries once a year. I would also suggest you add a Scentry III Gas Shut Off system on your main line into the home as well as Safe-T-Alert Combustible Gas Alarm or a Safety Siren III natural gas alarm near your natural gas appliances such as ranges, fireplaces, etc.

With the Scentry III GFRAB, you can add additional remote sensors, a battery back-up and a connection to a home monitoring system if you have one or plan to get one.

Remember that natural gas is lighter than air and "puddles" at the ceiling above the appliance using it. If near an open stairway, the gas will go to the top of the stairway.

An annual furnace tune up with filter change is needed with gas furnaces as well as with oil. If you want the best disposable furnace filters, use the 4 inch or 1 inch Safe Home filters.

Thanks for your questions.

Sincerely,

Barbara

 

Safety Alarms Needed to Protect Home Recently Converted to Natural Gas Heat and Water Heater

by Barbara 31. December 2010 02:34

Question: "We recently converted to natural gas heat and gas hot water boiler. We have two floors above this basement installation. What safety alarm units are required for protection? Nate.

Answer: Thanks for your question for the Ask Barbara Contest, Nate. I am going to answer with the assumption that your home was all electric prior to this conversion. If you heated with propane or oil, some of these recommendations may not apply.

Natural gas homes or businesses need two different types of safety alarms.

Combustible Gas Alarms.

Why do I need a combustible gas detector/gas alarm?

The purpose of a combustible gas alarm is to alert you when you have a raw gas leak. Yes, mercaptan is added to natural gas to make it smell like rotten eggs. But if you are not in the area of the gas appliances and/or you do not have an ability to smell, the odor does you no good. This units must be installed near the gas using appliances. So if your gas furnace and gas water heater are side by side, one natural gas alarm is all you need.

  • No matter how good your nose is, you may not be in the right place at the right time to notice a natural gas or propane leak.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms give NO protection against combustible gas leaks. carbon monoxide sensors detect only carbon monoxide, not raw fuel.
  • Turning off a light, setting a security alarm or closing a door spark a gas explosion or fire. Natural gas leaking from a basement furnace can leak upstairs through hollow walls.
  • Gas can leak into homes via sump pits, inbound water lines or a natural gas well under your home.
  • Each gas appliance is a potential source of a gas leak. Each gas appliance needs its own gas detector
  • We sell two different models with gas specific sensors. These are the Safe-T-Alert Model 40-411-120 and the Safety Siren Pro Gas Alarm; The main differences between the units are how they are installed.

    To properly install the Safe-T-Alert you need an electrical outlet near to the gas appliances. Because this unit has a line cord that is approximately 65 long, mounting ths unit properly is usually less a problem that the direct plug-in Safety Siren. Raw gas detection units must be mounted within 6 inches of the ceiling or on the ceiling at least 12 inches from a wall for natural gas leak protection. Natural gas pools above the appliance: think of an upside down pothole filling with water and you get the picture.

    The Safety Siren requires an electrical outlet near the appliance. Many people choose this option because the Safety Alert unit has a safety tab through which an outlet screw goes. This means the unit cannot be removed from a standard, single screw, double outlet without removing the screw.  These units meet the UL1484 standards for combustible gas alarms.

    Note: UL 1484 listed combustible gas detectors are not detectors for minute gas leaks. Sensors and detectors are tested in a combustible gas environment and meet the UL 1484 standards for alerts of dangerous gas levels. Deliberate exposure to natural gas, butane, propane, etc. can destroy the sensor in this unit. Use the test button to test this unit, not exposure to raw gas.

    Carbon Monoxide Alarms:

    One product of natural gas and all fossil fuels like coal, wood, peat, etc. is carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas. If your furnace and water heater are working properly, carbon monoxide is vented outside. If the vents are not working properly due to obstructions or the furnace heat exchanger cracks, then carbon monoxide is discharged into the air. Unlike combustible gasses, carbon monoxide does not pool but is distributed throughout your air. Carbon monoxide exposure symptoms range from flu-like symptoms to brain damage to death from asphyxiation.

    Recommended at a minimum are carbon monoxide alarms in or outside every bedroom, near the gas appliances and at the top of stairways. The easiest to install are the 9 volt battery units. Believe the alarm even if it sounds intermittently. About 5 years ago, I went to visit my parents in Pennsylvania. They have a washer and gas dryer in their kitchen (since 1952). I noticed that the Costar 9 volt CO alarms were all off their mounts (there were three units total). I was told they were "defective" as they were going off intermittently. I took them home with me and sent them to Quantum Group to be tested. Dave from Quantum phoned and said nothing was wrong with them! Meanwhile, my elderly father did NOT install the plug in Safe-T-Alert unit I had sent them because "I didn't know where to put it." The problem was the vent for the gas dryer was partially clogged with lint!  Since then, local code has changed: their 4 inch diameter gas dryer vent had to be replaced with a 5 inch for the newest dryer to be installed this past year.

    Types of Carbon Monoxide Alarms:

    If you are really concerned about a gas leak, we recommend the Scentry III gas valve shut off systems. Choose from a Scentry III GFRAB LP/Natural Gas Detector Valve Controller with remote sensor capability and a battery back-up option feature or a Scentry III SFGVC Automatic Gas Valve Controller, No Gas Valveunit with a single sensor at the gas valve itself. Scentry units are made in the USA. They do require a special diaphragm type gas valve in 1/2, 3/4 or 1 inch size, a 24 volt power supply and 120VAC or 240VAC power.

    Also install and maintain your smoke alarms which I am sure you already have.

    Thank you for your question and your entry in the Ask Barbara Contest.

    Sincerely, Barbara

    Residential Automatic Natural or Propane Gas Shut Off Valves to Replace CCI Controls Units

    by Barbara 30. January 2010 08:09

    Question about the Scentry III GFRAB Propane/Natural Gas Home Gas Detector.

    Q: "Our oil burning furnace was replaced with a propane gas furnace. Our concern is gas leaks while we away, i.e. we want protection against explosions and fires. The CCI Controls gas valve system is no longer made. How does this unit work? What components do we need? Thanks. Jim."

    Answer: The Scentry III GFRAB propane/natural gas detector is only one component of this home safety system. To have a complete system, you need these additional components:

    • The Scentry III Gas Valve Controller
    • The Battery Back Up in case there is a power failure.
    • A compatible gas valve such as this .75 inch that is CSA (AGA/CGA) Certificate number 229521-1656058 Australian Gas Association Certificate number 4235,UL Recognized File Number MH5939.
    • Optional: Remote Gas Sensors. Up to 5 remote explosive gas sensors can be monitored by the Scentry III GFRAB unit.

    The compatible valves are in .5, .75 and 1 inch sizes. Each valve is an electrically operated gas shut off valve that opens and closes on a demand signal from a thermostat or other controlling device. Can be used with both natural gas and LP gas at pressures up to 0.5 psi. The White Rodgers replacement is a compression spring closing and soft seat construction gas valve.

    The advantage of this system is that the controller unit supports up to 5 calibrated remote sensors.

    Scentry III-GFRAB Specifications:

    • Case: ABS Plastic
    • Physical Size: 7.6 inches by 4.6 inches
    • Weight: 2.25 lbs
    • Color: Gray
    • Power consumption: 1.5va
    • Supports up to 5 calibrated remote sensors (not included)
    • Requires Scentry III-GVD gas valve (purchase separately)
    • Supports Battery Back-Up (Not Included)
    • Supports Gas Valve Controller for Explosive Gas (Not Included)
    • Connections: screw terminals
    • Input Power: 115VAC, 60 Hz
    • Output Control Relays: 2 amps,
    • 24 VAC Alarm Signal
    • Output: 12V DC @500 ma
    • Reset: manual
    • Sensor Type: Tin Dioxide Semiconductor
    • Alarm Points: Propane (LP) <5200 PPM Alarm Points: Natural Gas / Methane <12,200 PPM
    • Manufactured Proudly in the USA for Safety First USA, Inc.
    • Warranty: 1 year from date of purchase.

    Thanks for your question. Just remember propane gas and natural gas are safe sources of energy if you add protective measures including alarms, shut off valves and regular maintenance of the appliances that use gas.

    Sincerely,

    Barbara

     

    Which Gas Detector Do I Need? I Have Anosmia.

    by Barbara 11. August 2008 09:27

    Q: "I have anosmia, i.e. I have lost my sense of smell. We have natural gas heat, a natural gas water heater and a natural gas cooking stove. I cannot smell a gas leak. Which gas detector do you recommend?"

    Answer: Currently, we sell two brands of combustible gas alarms and an automatic gas shut off system that shuts off gas and sounds a loud alarm when a significant gas leak occurs.

    Two brands are UL1484 listed for use with natural gas and propane gas and also work with gasoline fumes and butane fumes. These are the Safe-T-Alert 40-411AC and the Safety Siren Combustible Gas Alarm and the Safety Siren CO and Combustible Gas Alarm.

    The advantage of the Safe-T-Alert is the long cord for proper positioning of the detector, i.e. high and near the appliance for natural gas and low and near the appliance for propane. We also sell the Safe-T-Alert Combustible Gas Alarm in a 230VAC unit for Europe and Asia. The Safety Siren unit is a direct plug in with a safety tab that the outlet cover center screw (standard 2 or 3 prong outlet) goes through so the unit cannot be easily removed. Most customers who buy the Safety Siren model install an electrical outlet at the proper height for natural gas or propane.

    All our combustible gas alarms sound at less than 25% of the lower explosive or flammable level of the gas.

    The Scentry III GFRAB propane/natural gas detector is only one component of this home safety system. The GFRAB means Gas, Feet on the bottom of the case, Remote, Alarm and Battery. To have a complete system, you need these additional components:

    As noted above, the compatible valves are in .5, .75 and 1 inch sizes. Each valve is an electrically operated gas shut off valve that opens and closes on a demand signal from a thermostat or other controlling device. Can be used with both natural gas and LP gas at pressures up to 0.5 psi. The White Rodgers replacement is a compression spring closing and soft seat construction gas valve.

    The advantage of this system is that the controller unit supports up to 5 calibrated remote sensors.

    Scentry III-GFRAB Specifications:

    • Case: ABS Plastic
    • Physical Size: 7.6 inches by 4.6 inches
    • Weight: 2.25 lbs
    • Color: Gray
    • Power consumption: 1.5va
    • Supports up to 5 calibrated remote sensors (not included)
    • Requires Scentry III-GVD gas valve (purchase separately)
    • Supports Battery Back-Up (Not Included)
    • Supports Gas Valve Controller for Explosive Gas (Not Included)
    • Connections: screw terminals
    • Input Power: 115VAC, 60 Hz
    • Output Control Relays: 2 amps,
    • 24 VAC Alarm Signal
    • Output: 12V DC @500 ma
    • Reset: manual
    • Sensor Type: Tin Dioxide Semiconductor
    • Alarm Points: Propane (LP) <5200 PPM Alarm Points: Natural Gas / Methane <12,200 PPM
    • Manufactured Proudly in the USA for Safety First USA, Inc.
    • Warranty: 1 year from date of purchase.

    Thanks for your question. Just remember propane gas and natural gas are safe sources of energy if you add protective measures including alarms, shut off valves and regular maintenance of the appliances that use gas.

    Sincerely,

    Barbara

     

    Learning Propane and Carbon Monoxide Levels in a Home

    by Barbara 19. March 2002 08:50

    Q: Hello Barbara,  I am interested in knowing the level of propane, methane, and CO in my home. We burn propane and wood as fuel for heat, and are having some health problems that may be related. Do you have or know of such products? Please advise.Regards,Al

    Answer: Dear Al,

    Safe Home Products does not sell home monitors with digital readouts to tell you the exact levels. Most communities have home testing companies with sophisticated equipment to test your home over a period of days.

    We do sell  several different carbon monoxide alarms plus combustible gas alarms and one valve shut-off units.  Brands include Safe-T-Alert, Quantum, Fire-x, and Kidde. The 120VAC carbon monoxide alarms by Safe-T-Alert are direct plug in, line cord (for proper placement), and hard-wired. Quantum has 9V battery operated carbon monoxide alarms and 12V/24V hard wired security system carbon monoxide alarms. Quantum also offers marine and RV units. Carbon monoxide can cause health problems as well as asphyxiation by suffocation.

    We also sell propane and natural gas alarms by three manufacturers, Safe-T-Alert, Safety Siren and Safety First that will alert you to raw gas leaks before levels reach those where explosions or fire will occur. If you are worried about gas leaks from your furnace or other appliance, we recommend Scentry II Gas Alarm with Automatic Gas Valve Shut-Off.

    If you have a cabin that uses propane gas only for heating and lighting, Safety First now has a 12V gas valve as well. This can run from a 12V battery or two that is re-charged using a solar panel.It is important to use the recommended gas valve or the Safety First unit will not function properly. We do recommend that you have your propane using appliances checked at least once a year by a professional and contact your propane supplier if you suspect a raw gas leak inside or outside your home. Remember our mission statement is "A Safer Life Starts Here."

    Sincerely,
    Barbara

    Using the Safe-T-Alert Gas Alarm in France

    by Barbara 5. November 2001 01:45

    Q: "Regarding the SM-STA-40-411-230. I would like to know if this product is suitable for France. I don't see France on your web page. Can we plug it in in France? Thanks."

    Answer: Yes, this is the version for countries that use 220VAC to 240VAC power. As you see, it has the two round pronged plug that directly plugs into outlets except in Great Britain.

    Thank you for your question. Please contact us if you need additional information about any products.

    Sincerely, Barbara

    Comment: The STA-40-411 (40-401) uses the latest microprocessor technology available in a propane and natural gas (methane alarm). The Underwriters Laboratories approved residential/RV usage only for propane gas and methane gas. This unit also detects acetone, alcohol, butane and gasoline fumes, all of which be present in your home.

    Coverage area and locations for gas alarms

    by Barbara 13. October 2000 09:38

    Q: "I just purchased & received two testers from Safe Home Products and I have a question. I have one of them in my basement which is approximately 1700 sq.feet. Will the tester detect any gas in that area or just a small area around the tester? Also, I only have outlets near the ground, will gas by the ceiling be detected? Thank you.Deb "

    Answer: Deb, I looked up your order. I see that you purchased a Safe-T-Alert 40-411 gas alarm and a Safety Siren Combination CO and Combustible gas alarm.

    1. Both monitors have combustible gas sensors.
    2. Your basement is too large for either one or both units to detect gas laks in the entire area of 1700 square feet.
    3. The placement of the gas alarms depends upon whether your gas supply is from natural gas or propane gas.
    4. For detecting a propane leak, the unit must be mounted both near the floor and near the propane using appliance.
    5. For detecting a natural gas leak, the unit must be mounted near the ceiling and near the natural gas using appliance.
    6. Proper installation of the direct plug in unit may require using an extension cord or installing an electrical outlet in the proper place.

    I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to contact us for more information.

    Sincerely, Barbara