Unitil Corporation, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers throughout New England, is urging customers to stay aware of the potential impact flooding could have on natural gas service.
“With a hurricane, one naturally thinks of the potential impact to electric service, but the heavy rains caused by a tropical cyclone can also cause flooding, which can potentially disrupt gas service lines,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said. “Unitil has taken steps to sure up operations in the event flooding becomes an issue, but customers must also be aware of the potential impact of basement flooding as well.”
If water levels were high enough to cover the gas meter, call Unitil to check your meter and regulator before using your gas system. Floodwaters may have shifted your home or caused other stresses to the natural gas piping, establishing conditions that favor a gas leak. If basement flooding has impacted natural gas appliances they should not be used until inspected by a qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative.
Do not attempt to place natural gas appliances back in service. A qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative will check, clean, repair and pressure test all gas pipes, which may have been clogged with mud or debris. Damage may also occur to switches, controls, thermostats, furnace heat exchangers, burner and pilot parts and result in rusting metal parts.
Unitil has been preparing for the arrival of Irene since Tuesday, August 23. Although Unitil does not expect significant impacts to the gas system from the storm, additional gas emergency technicians are working in all states and backup systems have been inspected.
Natural gas leaks are usually recognized by smell, sight or sound. DO NOTstrike a match, use telephones, switch on/off appliances, light fixtures or even a flashlight in any area where you smell gas. These items can produce sparks that might ignite the gas and cause an explosion.If you suspect a natural gas leak, immediately move to a safe environment and call 911 or Unitil at its gas leak numbers in Massachusetts (888-301-7700) New Hampshire (866-900-4115) or Maine (866-900-4460).