Natural Gas and Safety

Image

Protect yourself and your family

En Español | Duke Energy cares about your safety and wants you to enjoy the comforts and convenience that natural gas provides. We encourage you to read these important gas safety tips and share them with your family and friends.

  •  Do:
    • Know where your appliance and building gas shut-off valves are located
    • Turn the shut-off valve(s) off if you can do so safely
    • Evacuate everyone from the premise immediately
    • Keep others a safe distance away
    • From a safe location, call 911 and Duke Energy at 800.634.4300

     Do Not:
    • Operate electrical equipment that could create a spark, such as a cellphone, light switch or matches
    • Operate pipeline system equipment
    • Turn vehicles or equipment on or off
    • Re-enter the home or building until cleared to do so by a Duke Energy representative

    Call before you dig

    One of the most potentially hazardous situations in residential areas, industrial plants and construction sites is accidental contact with underground electric power lines, natural gas lines, communication lines and other utility services.

    To ensure you're working safely, contact the designated One Call Center for your state by calling 811. There’s no charge for the service, and the call is free. Calling before you dig can not only save you money from a damage claim, it can also save your life.

    All you have to remember is 811. That’s the FCC-designated number to call before any digging project. 811 will connect you to the One Call Center in your respective state and notify area member utilities to mark the approximate location of underground lines. Duke Energy is a member of the One Call Center, but all not utilities are and may not receive notification by 811. Learn more about 811 and its members at this link.

    Most state laws require at least a 48-hour notice; some may be longer. Call 811 or the numbers below for the best information for your state.

    For information on gas line safety, you may also contact Duke Energy at 800.634.4300.
  • Natural gas is a safe and reliable fuel when used properly. But, escaping natural gas can signal danger. Natural gas is colorless and odorless, and it can penetrate walls even if your home or building is not supplied with gas.

    As a safety precaution, Duke Energy adds a distinctive sulfur-like odor to natural gas so you can smell a leak immediately. For your safety, it is important that everyone in your family recognizes this odor.

    If you smell sulfur near a natural gas appliance, check the pilot light. Most modern automatic equipment, like water heaters and furnaces, has safety shut-offs to control the escape of natural gas if the pilot goes out. Manually controlled appliances, like a natural gas range, may have a pilot light that does not turn off, but can be safely re-lit. All appliances should have a panel with the lighting instructions attached.
     
    If you can’t determine the source of a natural gas odor, and it is localized around an appliance, turn the natural gas to the appliance off at the shut-off valve and get a professional to look at the appliance.

    If the source of the odor can’t be determined or shut off, you have an emergency. As with any emergency, stay calm and follow these guidelines.

    Learn more about natural gas odorant
  • Pipelines are a safe way to transport energy across the country. While rare, pipeline incidents do happen. When natural gas systems leak, the gas normally rises away from the surface and dissipates. However, problems can occur if natural gas migrates underground and into buildings, sewers and duct systems such as those used for underground industrial lines.
     
    To ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the public, Duke Energy has numerous pipeline programs, policies and procedures in place. Collectively, they work to make sure that the natural gas used to power your home or business is delivered safely and efficiently. Learn more about our approach, as well as what you can do to enhance and facilitate pipeline safety.

    Know what's below  call 811

    The majority of natural gas distribution incidents are caused by damage to natural gas lines from construction and other excavation activities. If lines are dug into, they may leak and create an emergency situation. To protect the public, laws are in place requiring contractors or landowners to locate underground utilities before excavating.

    Even if you are simply installing a fence or planting a new tree in your yard, you must always contact your state’s Call Before You Dig program at 811 at least two working days before you dig. This free program will notify your local utility company to mark the location of underground lines so that you can dig safety and avoid a potential accident.

    Learn more about Call Before You Dig.

  • Natural gas is a safe, clean, and reliable energy source when treated and handled with respect. Working around gas lines requires a strong focus on safety.

    Distribution pipeline systems are used to deliver natural gas. When natural gas systems leak, natural gas will normally rise away from the surface and dissipate. Trouble may occur, however, if natural gas migrates under the ground and into buildings, sewers and duct systems such as those used for underground telephone and electric lines. The majority of natural gas distribution incidents are caused by damage to natural gas lines from construction and other excavation activities. Unreported small leaks and sudden large leaks create emergency situations. 

    For the public’s protection, our lawmakers require contractors and landowners to have underground utilities located before excavation activities begin. Our company, and other businesses with buried investments, are working together to provide locating services to anyone planning to excavate in the vicinity of underground gas, electric, telephone or other buried utilities.

    Homeowners can protect themselves and their neighbors by asking excavators if they have called the appropriate locating services.

    Homeowners should also call for their own projects. A task as simple as installing a fence or planting a new tree in the yard can turn out deadly if an underground gas or electric line is hit.

    Call Before You Dig is a free service. Participating utilities will send someone out to mark the underground facilities. Be sure to call two days in advance.

    Call before you dig. It’s the law.

    Dial 811 or contact your local Call Before You Dig centers at the following numbers:: 

    Indiana: 800.382.5544 
    Kentucky: 800.752.6007 
    Ohio: 800.362.2764

    If you have any questions about natural gas safety, or need more information, contact us at 800.634.4300.

    Gas Emergencies

    Call 800.634.4300
  • Natural gas is a colorless, odorless gas. Duke Energy odorizes the natural gas we deliver through our natural gas system to smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. This added odorant enables natural gas to be detected in the event a gas leak occurs. 

    Duke Energy routinely monitors odor concentration in the gas system for compliance with the regulatory requirements. Even so, you should not rely solely on your sense of smell to determine if a gas leak has occurred or is occurring.

    Don't rely on sense of smell alone

    In some situations, you may not be able to detect the odorant. Some people may have a diminished sense of smell. Physical conditions, including common colds, sinus conditions and allergies, can also temporarily impair your sense of smell. Sometimes the added odorant may be masked or overpowered by other odors. In rare incidences, odor fade (loss of odorant) may occur. This may cause the odor to diminish so that it is not detectable.

    What causes odor fade?

    Odor fade (loss of odorant) can occur when physical and/or chemical processes cause the level of odorant in the gas to be reduced. If a natural gas leak occurs underground, the surrounding soil may cause odor fade. Other factors that may cause odor fade include, but are not limited to: 
    • The construction and configuration of your gas facilities
    • The presence of rust, moisture, liquids or other substances in the pipe
    • Gas composition, pressure and/or flow
    Intermittent, little or no gas flow over an extended period of time may also result in an initial loss of odorant that returns once the gas flow increases or becomes more frequent.
  • When natural gas is burned completely, the products are carbon dioxide (the same chemical that makes bubbles in a soda) and water vapor. Both products are usually harmless.

    However, incomplete combustion can create carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous. That’s why it is important to have natural gas appliances routinely inspected and serviced to ensure proper operation, including a check of vents and flues.

    In order for vents and flues to operate properly, you must allow air into the system. This air allows the vent or flue to draw air up and out similar to a fireplace chimney and allows for more complete combustion. High-efficiency furnaces have make-up air piped directly into the combustion area to enhance the fuel burn, which produces safe products that are vented from the furnace.

    Without adequate ventilation, the natural gas may not burn completely producing carbon monoxide – a potentially deadly situation.

    Is your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning?

    Carbon monoxide can be formed when any common fuel is burned, including natural gas, wood, oil or coal. As the weather gets colder, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning increases. As many as one-quarter of patients who go to hospital emergency departments with flu-like or more severe symptoms may actually have been exposed to CO. High exposures may even cause brain damage or death.
     
    Because CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-irritating gas, it can go undetected. With some understanding and prevention, you can protect your family from an unnecessary risk.

    Have your heating equipment professionally inspected and serviced yearly by a certified heating contractor.

    The effects of carbon monoxide

    CO can build up in the body over time. Longer exposures to lower amounts may actually be worse than a short duration of a higher amount. Signs and symptoms of CO poisoning include: 
    • Headache 
    • Fatigue 
    • Nausea/vomiting 
    • Dizziness 
    • Shortness of breath 
    • Chest pain 
    • Confusion /poor judgment/memory loss
    • Decreased motor function/ slower reaction time

    If you suspect you have been exposed:
    • Seek a well-ventilated area immediately. 
    • If symptoms are severe or persist, get medical attention or call 911
    • Call a service contractor to check your house for problems.
    For more information on carbon monoxide, go to:
  • Flexible gas connectors are corrugated metal tubes used to attach natural gas appliances to a home or building's natural gas supply lines. Some older, uncoated brass flexible gas connectors can corrode or break and cause a serious gas leak, fire or explosion.

    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, these uncoated brass flexible gas connectors have not been manufactured for more than 25 years, but many are still in use. If you have a natural gas appliance that is more than 20 years old, it is a good idea to have the gas connectors replaced by a qualified professional.

    WARNING: Moving an appliance to check the gas connector may cause the connector to break, resulting in a gas leak, fire or explosion. DO NOT attempt to check the connectors yourself. Instead, have a qualified person, such as a professional plumber or HVAC or appliance repair contractor inspect your appliances and, if necessary, replace the connectors for you. The new connector should be certified by the American Gas Association and should be manufactured in conformance with the American National Standards Institute. Have all of your natural gas appliances inspected in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
     
    Read more about the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • A sewer lateral is an underground pipe that connects a residence or business to the main sewer line. Caution is required when doing repair work on a sewer lateral because these lines often run along other buried utilities, including natural gas lines. Rooter equipment used to clear lines of clogs and tree roots can break through the sewer line and damage gas lines. 

    Before cleaning out a sewer lateral, remember to:
    • Contact your state’s Call Before You Dig service at 811 to locate underground utilities.
    • Look for a sewer lateral tag on the sewer clean-out or under the kitchen drain pipe. 
    • If a tag is present, call Duke Energy for a free sewer line inspection.

    Signs of damage to a natural gas line include, but are not limited to:
    • Hissing sounds
    • Natural gas odor (rotten eggs/sulfur)
    • Blowing dirt
    • Bubbling water

    Damage to a natural gas service line is a serious hazard and can lead to a:
    • Gas leak
    • Fire
    • Explosion

    Duke Energy contact information

    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Duke Energy toll-free at 800.634.4300.
  • Distribution piping systems are used to deliver natural gas. When natural gas systems leak, natural gas will normally rise away from the surface and dissipate. Trouble may occur, however, if natural gas migrates under the ground and into buildings, sewers and duct systems such as those used for underground telephone and electric lines. The majority of natural gas distribution incidents are caused by damage to natural gas lines from construction and other excavation activities. When lines are dug into they may leak with no one reporting the damage, or leak in such large quantities that an instant emergency results.

    For the public’s protection, our lawmakers have made it mandatory for contractors or landowners to have underground utilities located before excavation activities can begin. Our company, and other businesses with buried investments, are working together to provide locating services to anyone planning to excavate in the vicinity of underground gas, electric, telephone or other buried utilities.

    Homeowners can protect themselves and their neighbors by keeping an eye on things and by asking excavators if they have called the appropriate locating services.

    Homeowners should also not forget to set a good example by calling for their own projects. A task as simple as installing a fence or planting a new tree in the middle of the yard can turn out deadly if an underground gas or electric line is hit.

    It’s a free service. Participating utilities will send someone out to mark the underground facilities if you call two days in advance.

    Call before you dig. It’s the law.

    Call 811 or:

    Indiana: 800.382.5544 
    Kentucky: 800.752.6007 
    Ohio: 800.362.2764

    Natural gas is a safe, clean and reliable energy source when treated and handled with respect; but like safety – it’s something to think about.

    If you have any questions about natural gas safety, or need more information, contact us at 800.544.6900.

    Gas Emergencies
    Call 800.634.4300
  • At Duke Energy, we are committed to the safe operation of our natural gas pipeline. We want everyone to be safe each and every day – in our homes, schools and businesses. Hydrostatic Pressure Testing is one of several methods a company may use to confirm the structural integrity of its natural gas pipeline.

    About hydrostatic pressure testing
    Pipeline testing involves pressurizing a section of the pipe with water to a much higher level than the pipe will ever operate with natural gas, thus validating the safe operating pressure of the pipeline.

    In an emergency call 911, call 800.634.4300. For questions about testing, call 513.287.2110 or email pipelinetesting@duke-energy.com.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is testing done?

    Public safety is our number one priority. Assessing the strength and durability of the pipeline will help prevent leaks or ruptures and help us determine areas that may need repair. Testing with water is a safe and effective way to find and correct any problem areas in the pipeline. 

    How it is done?

    First, the pipeline is taken out of service and residual gas is safely vented. The pipeline is closed at each end using welded steel caps. The section of pipe that is being tested is then filled with water until a pressure is reached that exceeds the pressure that the pipeline would experience during normal operation with natural gas. This allows us to test the pipeline’s durability and determine a safe level of pressure for the pipeline to operate. It’s also a way to find any defects and make repairs. After a successful test, the pipeline is drained of water, dried thoroughly and returned to service.

    What to expect

    Alternate sources of natural gas will be provided prior to testing to ensure you receive the natural gas you need. You may experience a short interruption in your gas supply during the changeover process. During testing you may notice the following:

    • Temporary traffic and detour signs
    • Pipeline workers and personnel onsite
    • Pipes above ground and visible during testing
    • Machinery such as excavators and water tanks in the area
    • Standing water or puddles of water that may be dyed with a nontoxic colorant

    What happens during a test?

    1. Duke Energy notifies neighbors of testing dates. 
    2. Some customers will need to be connected to an alternate source of natural gas during testing.
    3. Pipeline section is taken out of service and sealed on both ends.
    4. Pipeline is filled completely with water.
    5. The section is pressurized to a level higher than normal operating pressure.
    6. The pressure is held for a set period of time, typically eight or more hours.
    7. Any pipeline sections that leak or rupture are repaired or replaced with new pipe.
    8. Once a section passes the test, the pipeline is emptied of water, dried and put back into service. Work can continue up to four weeks depending on test results. Some work may occur at night to ensure pressure is held for the recommended time limit.

    Is testing safe?

    Hydrostatic pressure testing is a very common and safe way to test pipelines. If a pipeline were to fail during testing, it would only leak water. Testing with water is an excellent way to ensure the integrity of the pipes and fix areas in question before an emergency happens.
  • Natural gas was first available in the Cincinnati area in 1837 when the Cincinnati Gas Light and Coke Company was granted a charter to light the streets, homes and businesses in what is now the downtown area. Although electricity now powers most of our lights, the old gas company has grown into a modern natural gas distribution system that provides about one-third of all the energy used by residential, commercial and industrial applications in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

    Like any other source of energy, natural gas can be hazardous if not managed properly.

    One simple safety procedure that is used to help avoid these problems is the odorization of natural gas. Learn more about odorant and odorant fade

  • To ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the public, Duke Energy has numerous pipeline programs, policies and procedures in place. Collectively, they work to make sure that the natural gas used to power your home or business is delivered safely and efficiently. Learn more about our approach, as well as what you can do to enhance and facilitate pipeline safety. 

    Regulatory requirements

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) regulates the safety, design, construction, operation and maintenance of interstate natural gas transmission pipelines. Their job is to make certain the U.S. pipeline system is both safe and reliable. Each year, our pipeline system is inspected by the OPS and/or state pipeline safety representative to ensure we are in compliance with all pipeline safety regulations. Duke Energy responds promptly to any findings and recommendations as a result of these inspections.

    Integrity management

    All natural gas pipeline operators are required to develop and maintain integrity management programs for gas transmission pipelines. Duke Energy's Integrity Management Program defines its procedures and practices to help our personnel identify and address threats and to ensure that our pipelines remain structurally sound. 

    This program includes plans for areas that:
    • Meet U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety’s criteria of population density
    • Include populations with impaired mobility, such as schools or hospitals
    • Attract large groups of people, such as ball fields and parks
    Learn more about integrity management on the Department of Transportation's Integrity Management website.

    Mapping the pipeline

    A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer database capable of organizing and relating information according to its geographic location. At Duke Energy, we use GIS to record and analyze up-to-date pipeline information throughout our system. We include specific pipe statistics, such as size, coating, construction and testing information, along with pipeline routes with topographical, weather and community-based data. Using a GIS, Duke Energy can learn more about factors that affect pipelines and possibly forecast when issues may occur.

    Pipeline rights of way are marked with signs showing the pipeline’s approximate location, name of the pipeline company and a telephone number where company representatives can be reached. For security reasons, detailed maps of the pipeline are not publicly available.

    You can access the National Pipeline Mapping System Web site and the link Find Who's Operating Pipelines in Your Area to find out which operators have pipelines near you.
  • An excess flow valve is designed to permit normal operation of the service line. But, when activated, an excess flow valve may lessen the buildup of natural gas in the service line and may decrease the possibility of accidents caused by such buildup. However, an excess flow valve does not protect against customer appliance malfunction, customer houseline leaks, or small leaks on service lines or gas meters. Learn more.