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Natural Gas 101

Safely Supplying and Distributing Natural Gas to Our Customers

 

Supply: How it's Produced

Natural gas is a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. When it's burned, it produces a powerful burst of energy and few emissions. The natural gas that is delivered to your home is almost all methane. Methane is a molecule known as CH4 that is made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. The distinctive smell associated with natural gas is actually an odor added to the gas to help end-users detect leaks. Natural gas is found in reservoirs underneath the earth. Using sophisticated technology, production companies search for these reservoirs and drill wells where they are found. After it is extracted from the earth, natural gas is refined to remove impurities such as water and other gases and compounds. Some hydrocarbons that are removed from natural gas, such as propane and butane, are sold as separate products.

Distribution: How it's Delivered

After refining, the clean natural gas is transmitted through a network of pipelines that deliver it to a variety of users. It's a complicated process but, at your home or business, turning on the gas is as simple as the flick of a switch.

Safety: How it’s Safe for My Use

Natural gas is a safe, clean, efficient fuel for home or business use. The following recommendations will assist you in using natural gas appliances safely and economically.

If you smell gas, take action.

Because natural gas is colorless and odorless, a harmless but strong-smelling ingredient called "mercaptan" has been added to draw attention to any leak that might occur. If you smell this strong odor in your home or business, or you have other reason to suspect a natural gas leak, take action right away:

  • Immediately extinguish all open flames, such as candles, cigarettes, kerosene lamps and heaters
  • Alert everyone in the area of the potential danger and evacuate the area
  • Do not touch any light switches, do not use the phone, and do not use a flashlight as you leave. Avoid any actions that could cause a spark
  • Move a safe distance away from the area and call your natural gas delivery company, or call 911 to report the location of the natural gas odor. (Our natural gas customers should call 302-454-0317)
  • Stay away from the area until trained professionals arrive to make it safe
  • Never try to fix a leaking natural gas pipeline or extinguish a natural gas fire

Winter Safety Tips

Since many people spend more time indoors during winter, we urge customers to use caution. For a safe and warm winter, please:

  • Keep the area around your heater and water heater open, clear and free from stored items (such as boxes, books, flammable liquids, containers, etc.)
  • Keep your chimney and flue clean and clear from debris (such as leaves or mortar) because a blocked chimney or flue on a natural gas furnace can emit deadly carbon monoxide buildup in your home
  • Schedule an annual chimney cleaning by a professional technician
  • Keep natural gas equipment properly ventilated to ensure safe operation
  • be sure outside vents from direct-vent appliances (such as dryers and heaters) are free from snow, ice and rubble
  • Make sure your gas meter is free from snow and ice by gently clearing snow using a broom or large brush
  • Keep shoveled and plowed snow piles far away from your gas meter and never use a shovel or sharp tool to chip ice away – this can cause damage or break the meter
  • Repair gutters and downspouts that drip water onto your meter
  • If your meter is encased in ice and you experience problems with your gas service, or if you smell gas - please call our gas emergency number 302-454-0317 immediately
  • A qualified contractor should inspect your natural gas appliances and piping each year. Vent inspection is also necessary to ensure that any carbon mo​noxide is vented outside your home or business. These inspections can identify potential problems and ensure the safety of your family and employees.

Visit Natural Gas Safety for more information.

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