Commitment to Safety: Our #1 Priority

Natural gas is a safe and reliable energy choice when handled properly and with care. It's important to stay educated about the properties and potential hazards of natural gas to aid in its safe use.

  • Colorless

    You cannot see natural gas, but you might notice blowing dirt, dead plants or bubbling water.

  • Odorless

    We add a safety agent called mercaptan to natural gas. Its rotten egg smell is easily noticed.

  • Nontoxic

    Natural gas is not toxic to humans, but a leak in a confined environment could displace oxygen.

  • Flammable

    Natural gas will ignite with the proper mixture of air and an ignition source.

Mercaptan: an important safety additive in natural gas

Additional Safety Information

    • Natural gas is Colorless
      • There is no way to see natural gas being released. However, you can see blowing dirt, dead plants and/or bubbling water.

    • Natural gas is Odorless
      • As a safety feature, Piedmont adds a compound called mercaptan to natural gas. Mercaptan gives natural gas its rotten egg smell, making it easily recognizable.

    • Natural gas is Nontoxic
      • Natural gas is not toxic to humans, but it will displace oxygen. This means that a natural gas leak in a confined environment could significantly reduce the amount of oxygen in the air and create a dangerous environment.

    • Natural gas is Flammable
      • Natural gas will ignite with the proper mixture of air and an ignition source.

    Suspect a pipeline leak or damage? Call Piedmont Natural Gas at 800.752.7504.

  • A natural gas leak from nearby facilities and/or pipelines can impact your home or business, even if you don’t have natural gas service. It’s possible for natural gas to migrate into neighboring buildings, including those without natural gas service. Natural gas leaks can be handled quickly and easily if you know what to look for and what to do if you find one.

    Here’s how you can identify a natural gas leak:

    • SMELL: Natural gas smells like rotten eggs.
    • LOOK: Natural gas leaks often cause bubbling water, blowing dirt or dead plants. You may also see sinkholes and/or exposed pipe.
    • LISTEN: Natural gas leaks often cause a hissing sound near a natural gas line or meter.

    Although the natural gas additive has the distinctive odor of rotten eggs, your sense of smell might not be enough to detect a leak due to any of the following:

    • Strong smells in the area can mask or overpower the smell of natural gas (like cooking or chemical odors)
    • Olfactory fatigue can desensitize you to the same smell over prolonged exposure
    • Physical conditions, including common colds, sinus conditions and allergies, can also temporarily impair your sense of smell
    • Certain conditions in the soil or pipes can cause the odor to fade or be stripped out of the natural gas, making it no longer as easily 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.
  • Don’t rely solely on your sense of smell to detect a natural gas leak. Instead, install a natural gas detector in the area where the natural gas service pipe or other utilities enter your home or building. The Natural Gas Detector will sound an alarm if levels of natural gas in that area indicate a potential leak.

    Helpful features of natural gas detectors include:

    • Alerts you, much like a smoke or CO detector, with an audible alarm, some even have voice alerts
    • Plug-in and battery-operated models available
    • Battery-operated units allow for installation close to the ceiling where natural gas is more accurately detected

    If the alarm is triggered, stop what you are doing, get as far away from the smell as possible and call 911, then call Piedmont at 800.752.7504.

    • DO NOT use anything electrical that may create a spark; this includes cell phones
    • DO NOT operate any light switches
    • DO NOT light a match
    • DO NOT attempt to locate the source of a leak
    • DO NOT attempt to stop a leak
    • DO NOT return to the area until Piedmont Natural Gas or the emergency services have declared the area safe
    • DO NOT attempt to operate pipeline valves yourself. You may inadvertently cause more danger or additional damage
    • DO NOT attempt to extinguish a natural gas fire

    Never ignore any alarm. Natural gas leaks can become very dangerous, potentially causing fires or explosions that can result in serious injuries and property damage.

  • Are you having your roof replaced?

    If you’re planning to replace all or parts of your roof, make sure your contractor complies with your local building codes. Noncompliance could result in the removal or separation of your gas vent connections, which could leak carbon monoxide into your home. Inhalation of carbon monoxide poses significant health risks, including sickness or death.

    Venting normally occurs on residences with gas water heaters and/or furnaces. If your home fits this description, please read the following:

    • Ensure your contractor is aware of safe clearance requirements of the gas vents to potentially combustible materials. Improperly placed vents could be a potential fire hazard.
    • A mechanical or plumbing contractor, properly licensed according to state requirements, would be required to pull a permit and check and/or repair damaged vent piping and call for a final inspection.

    If you have any questions about the permit requirements in your city or county, call your local building permit office.

    Prevent hot water scalding

    You can prevent dangerous hot water scalding incidents with one quick check to make sure your water heater is set to a temperature of no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to always check the water temperature before placing a child in a bathtub.

    Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

    Check your appliance connectors

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging everyone to have their flexible natural gas appliance connectors checked. Some flexible connectors manufactured between 30 and 40 years ago may require replacement immediately due to high instances of failure.

    Do not attempt to check your flexible natural gas appliance connectors yourself. Contact a licensed professional.

    Ensure proper grounding of corrugated stainless steel tubing

    Your home or business may have corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) installed if it was built after 1990, or if your natural gas system has been updated since this date.

    What are the risks of CSST?

    CSST presents a risk if it is not properly grounded. If lightning strikes a building with CSST that is not properly grounded, there is a possibility this lightning could travel along the CSST and cause a leak and perhaps a fire.

    If you suspect CSST may be installed at your home or business, contact a licensed electrician to make sure it is grounded properly. A building inspector can confirm whether CSST is present in your building.

  • Calling 811 is FREE. When you call 811, the utility lines on your property will be marked, preventing you from damaging them when you dig. Projects that warrant a call to 811 include the installation of:

    • Septic tanks and sewer lines
    • Swimming pools
    • Wells
    • Sprinkler systems and water lines
    • Basketball goal posts or mailbox posts
    • Fence and deck posts
    • Trees and shrubs
    • Mailboxes

    Please note that any lines you have installed, such as natural gas lines for grills, decorative lighting, or water or sewer laterals, must be located by a private locating service in addition to the free 811 service.

  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can result as a byproduct of incomplete burning of natural gas or other fossil fuels.

    • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector
    • Make sure all gas appliances are installed correctly and checked annually
    • Have chimneys cleaned and checked every year for obstructions
    • Don’t use outdoor appliances or equipment indoors for space heating or cooking
    • Symptoms of CO poisoning:
      • Flu-like symptoms
      • Headache
      • Drowsiness
      • Ringing sensation in the ears
      • Nausea
      • Blurred vision
      • Chest pains
      • Lightheadedness or dizziness

    Source: Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement Department