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Gas compliance and safety tips

29 Jul 2014

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a cheaper and cleaner form of energy, however, only three percent of South Africans are using this energy source.  Many households tend to be nervous about it because gas that is not installed and stored properly could result in a safety hazard.   

Containers should not be located below ground level in a building, for example, in cellars or basements, and should not be located above or on top of any appliance used for cooking or heating. 

To ensure safe installation and storage, Safety Standards regulations passed in 2009 prescribe the highest levels of compliance and the need for a Certificate of Conformity for any appliance that reticulates, circulates or conveys gas. Compliance is also required for appliances modified on an owner’s property or if the appliance has had a change of user or ownership. 

According to regulations, appliances, components of the installation and the distributing system need to be inspected at regular intervals not exceeding five years. 

Important provisions within the Safety Standards include: 

Location of gas containers

1. Each container should be located in an upright position with the valve uppermost, and should be so placed on a firm level base that there can be no danger of the container tilting or falling over. 

2. In flats, the maximum size permitted for the container is nine kilograms while in houses, the maximum size is 19 kilograms. It is not clear whether the maximum size includes containers located both inside and outside, but to err on the side of caution, the limit should be regarded to include both. 

3. Containers should not be located below ground level in a building, for example, in cellars or basements, and should not be located above or on top of any appliance used for cooking or heating. 

4. Containers should be located at least 300mm away from a gas stove, unless the container is protected from the heat of the stove in an approved manner. 

5. Should the container be located outdoors, it must be located on a firm, clean, well-drained and level base. The area surrounding a container should be kept clear of combustible materials. 

6. The containers should be at least one metre away from any opening that is below the level of the container valve, that is doors, windows and airbricks, two metres away from any drain, pit or manhole, three metres away from the property boundary, unless the boundary has a firewall, in which case the containers could be next to the firewall, and where there are only two containers, the boundary distance can be reduced to one metre and three metres away from any opening directly above the containers. 

Installation of gas appliances

1. Fixed appliances must be installed by a registered installer. Pipe runs must be as neat, tidy and as short as possible. 

2. Appliances must be connected to the pipework of an installation in a way that will eliminate undue strain on the pipework and fittings and, if rigid connections are used, the appliances must also be so rigidly fixed that they are not capable of being moved after their installation. 

3. If an appliance needs to be moved for cleaning  etc., it must be connected to the pipework by means of flexible tubing or hose. 

4. To prevent the hose or tubing from being ruptured or torn from its mountings, the appliance shall have a restraining mechanism of a length that is shorter than the hose or tube. 

A copy of the Certificate of Conformity must be sent to a body appointed by the Chief Inspector of the Department of Labour for record purposes and, where required, to the local authority. The registered installer must supply the user with a printed instruction sheet or booklet describing the correct and safe handling of the gas appliances, and appropriate general emergency procedures. - Hopewell Sathekge, associate at Hogan Lovells.

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