By now if you have been following along in my series of posts about setting up your new home with its essential utilities, we really only have one potential utility left. With the increase in cost of electricity and fuel oil, natural gas is quickly becoming a more popular choice for heating your home. Along with that natural gas is often the preferred fuel for cooking appliances by professional chefs worldwide. Of course getting natural gas for your home will require you to be within the boundaries of a gas utility so this isn’t really an option for off the grid living in most cases. If you live in an area like Cumberland County, Tennessee, not only will it be available but more than likely the prices will be extremely attractive compared to some other parts of the country.
Unlike your other utilities, due to its inherent danger if handled improperly, a majority of the hook up process is handled by the utility company. A bulk of the homeowner responsibilities lies more on the administrative side, gathering info and filing permits.
To start the process of getting natural gas for your home, a building permit will need to be pulled down at your local building and codes office. A part of this permit will be a declaration of your gas input requirements. Basically this is stating what all of your appliances and heating equipment will require which helps to dictate how big of a pipe you’ll need and the flow requirement of your meter. The best way to figure this number is to go around a look at each gas fixture in your home and find the label that has the model and serial number. This label or the fuel rating plate typically shows the max usage for that appliance in the form of BTU input rate. If you can’t find the fuel rating plate, you can refer to the table below for a rough guide.
Once you’ve collected all the numbers from your various appliances, add up the number of BTU/Hr and bring this number with you to the permit office. This number is the max number of BTUs you could ever consume if everything was on at the same time.
Along with filing your building permit you will usually also be paying the hookup fee so be ready to pay a chunk of cash. The hookup fee varies from municipality to municipality but expect it to range from $500 to $1,000 which helps to cover the cost of the meter along with the install. If your home is more than a certain distance from the street, usually ~100 feet, you may have to pay a little more for the added materials.
At the time of filing the permit, or sometimes available at a separate office, you may be given the mounting bracket for the meter by the utility company/municipality for you to install on the side of your home closest to the street where the gas main resides. This is really the only part of the install that could be left up to you, as the gas piping should be left to professionals. The last thing you want to happen is for you to be that inexperienced homeowner in your neighborhood that runs shoddy gas piping only to find out the next time you’re out launching bottle rockets from your front yard.
The next step in getting natural gas for your home is to make sure all your gas plumbing is completed within the house by a licensed plumber. Yes you can finish this up after the meter is in by turning the gas off at the meter; however it is much faster, safer and easier doing this prior to gas service being turned on. While you’re at it, think about adding a gas line to your back porch where you can connect a gas grill. Think about it, no more will you have to lug hefty propane tanks!
Finally you will want to make sure the area surrounding the meter mounting location is clear and the final grade around your home is set. It wouldn’t be too advantageous if your gas line was put in then you or your landscaper digs a big hole for a tree right on top of your shiny new gas pipe.
Once all the prep work is done, the utility gets notified and they take it from there. They’ll come out and connect your home to the gas main along with purge the air from the gas piping within your home and they will even light pilot lights for you. Be aware that if there are any issues with any of your appliances, the gas utility won’t do any repair work on them as they leave that up to plumbers or appliance repair facilities.
With all that wrapped up, you should be good to go. The meter reader will be around monthly to check on your usage and send you the bill accordingly. As the homeowner you won’t have to do much other than observe a few safety tips.
Natural Gas Safety Tips
- Check the flame occasionally to ensure a nice blue color with maybe a slight orange tip indicating good flow and a full burn. The only exception would be a gas fireplace which is designed to have that nice orange glow.
- Periodically inspect any vent piping to ensure there are no disconnects or breaks leaking exhaust into your home.
- Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector in the same room as any gas appliance to let you know of any leaks as soon as they happen.
- Keep the areas around furnaces and water heaters clear. Never pile up rags or other combustibles around those appliances posing a serious fire hazard.
- Be careful when using various cleaners, solvents, pest control fogs, etc as some require you to extinguish your pilot light when used. Follow the manufacturer instructions on the proper method of turning off the gas to that appliance.
- Be sure to use a buried line locating service anytime you plan to dig in your yard. Just dial 811 from any phone a few days prior to your project to setup an appointment for them to come out and locate any buried lines in your yard.
Be sure to check out the rest of LandCentral’s Land University for other great information on land ownership!