Did you know that over 70% of Australian households are connected to natural gas? Touted as the cleanest fossil fuel there is, natural gas is a reliable energy source that produces low carbon emissions. Contrary to popular belief, it is eco-friendly, safe, and affordable. Compared to electricity, gas can power most heating appliances at half the cost.
If you’re looking to introduce natural gas into your home, or simply want to learn more about how it works, here’s everything you need to know about natural gas and gas piping.
What is natural gas?
Natural gas is a type of fossil fuel that’s found deep below the surface of the earth, formed from the remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago.
When burned, this gas produces energy that can be used for cooking, heating, and generating electricity. Natural gas is abundant in Australia and makes up 18% of our energy use. According to the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association, there is enough supply of gas in Australia to last us another 50 years.
Benefits of natural gas
Compared to coal or oil, natural gas emits less greenhouse emissions. It is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and does not produce health-harming ash or particulates.
While it’s not as clean as wind or solar energy, it is cheaper to run and relatively easier to use. For the average Australian homeowner, a gas line connection can cut your electricity bill by as much as 20-50%.
How do natural gas pipes work?
Natural gas is transported through a lengthy gas pipeline network. From the depths of the earth, natural gas is drilled, pumped, and brought closer to the surface. This gas is then transported and processed at gas distributor facilities. These utility companies supply the gas to a main in your street, which houses tap into, much like how water supply works.
The gas pipes that run through a home are usually made of either copper or PVC plastic. In some cases, you might see cast iron or galvanized steel, but these are more common in commercial applications.
How do I get a gas line connected?
Getting gas into your home is simply a matter of connecting to the gas piping network. If there is a gas main in your street, you can request a new gas connection through a gas utility provider. Your utility provider will tap into the main and install a gas meter for you. This meter regulates gas flow to your home and measures your gas consumption for your quarterly billing.
Once you have a meter, hire a gas appliance fitter to install a gas outlet service. Your gas appliance fitter connects the meter to the different gas appliances you use at home. The provider will also take care of the materials, both the piping and the PTFE sealant tape, and sizing the gas pipe properly for your home, although the cost of the service will include the materials and labor for this.
How much does it cost to run gas to my house?
Installing a gas line from the street main and into your meter can cost anywhere from $100-300 in Canberra. The price is affected by the distance of the gas main to your property and where you want the gas meter to be located. If you don’t have a gas main in your street, prices can increase exponentially.
As for installing gas piping around the house, expect prices to range from $1,000-5,000. The quote is affected by several factors such as:
- The number of outlets and appliances to be connected
- The total length of the pipework to be installed
- Ease of access depending on existing flooring and walls
Every property and installation is different, so be sure to get an accurate quote from a licensed and insured provider based on your exact setup.
Where would I find the gas pipes in my house?
The main gas pipes outside your home are located underground. Meanwhile, pipes within the home are usually concealed yet accessible as a safety precaution. Most of the time, pipes are kept behind a box skirting. While you should generally leave your gas pipes alone, it’s best to be aware of their location so you can easily detect and locate a leak should problems arise.
Where can I find the gas valve in my home?
Perhaps the more important thing to note is where your gas valves are located. This allows you to cut off the gas supply to the house if you notice a leak. If you’re planning to leave your house unattended for a prolonged period, you should also switch off the gas valve.
There are usually two gas shut-off valves in your home. The first is the main gas shut-off which is also called a street-side valve. You can find this beside the main gas meter outside your house. Note that this should only be touched by either your local professional plumber or your gas service provider.
The second is the house-side valve which you can find near your furnace, water heater, or where the gas pipes first enter your home. The house-side valve can be switched on or off by the homeowner anytime.
Natural gas safety tips
Although natural gas is generally a safe energy source, keep in mind that it is still a flammable material. As a homeowner, you should regularly practice gas safety habits. These are just some of our top tips so you can continue the safe use of gas in your home:
- Learn how to detect signs of a natural gas leak
- Regularly monitor gas-powered appliances for good working condition
- Be aware of your gas valve locations and how to operate them
- Install gas and carbon monoxide detectors in your home
- Keep children away from natural gas sources
Dealing with gas leaks
Gas leaks are a serious issue that can lead to detrimental hazards if left unaddressed. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the gas supply, gather your family outside, and call your plumber right away.
It pays to know the signs and symptoms of a gas leak to keep your family safe. Because gas is laced with a sulfuric odor by gas companies, you should be able to detect a leak due to the smell alone. Other signs to watch out for are:
- A hissing or whistling sound
- A white cloud near a gas line
- Dying plants
- Breathing difficulties accompanied with dizziness
- Irritated skin
- A higher than normal gas bill
How often should gas piping lines be serviced?
Ideally, gas pipes should be serviced annually. They say prevention is better than cure, and the same applies to your gas piping system. An annual gas piping maintenance check involves thorough inspection, leak detection, and pipe cleaning.
How do I add a gas line to an existing line?
Thoughts of making a do-it-yourself (DIY) project involving gas pipes should not be entertained. The disadvantages and dangers of any DIY gas pipe installation and repair far outweigh any benefits. Methane is a highly hazardous gas that can not only cause flames but also explosions and suffocation. A bad DIY gas piping project will not only damage your home but can also possibly affect your neighbors.
If you’re asking just to get an idea of how this process is done, we’re happy to explain as it’s pretty simple in theory.
First, the gas meter is turned off, and the gas is left to dissipate. Afterwards, we locate the specific gas line that we will be teeing off of. We cut through the pipe and then snugly install the socket tee in place. From here, a new pipe can be installed and added into an existing line.
Can I DIY gas piping installation and maintenance?
Gas pipework, whether it’s for a gas leak inspection, piping installation, gas piping maintenance, home renovation, or pre-purchase inspection, is always best left to the professionals.
In Australia, it is actually illegal to do gas plumbing work without a license. This is due to the fact that working with a gas pipe is an extremely dangerous job that requires training, expertise, experience, proper equipment, and attention to detail.
Methane, the primary gas that is found in natural gas, is a colorless gas that can cause fires and explosions. Furthermore, high methane concentrations in the air can lead to suffocation and death.
Thinking of switching to gas? Hire a professional.
With the abundance of natural gas in Australia and the many benefits of using it as an energy source, switching to natural gas is a compelling prospect. If you’re looking to get a gas line connected, contact a gas utility provider and hire a professional gas fitting service for a safe gas piping installation.
Fluid Plumbing & Gas Services is a team of licensed and insured professional plumbers that offer gas fitting services. We’ve been in this business for the past 12 years and can guarantee affordable, quality services that put your safety as a top priority.
We also offer fast free quotes via our website, or you may reach us at 0411 169 327 to learn more about your gas and plumbing concerns within the city of Canberra.