We deliver natural gas to your home or business through a system of underground pipelines. While natural gas has an excellent safety record, it’s important to know a few basic principles to stay safe.
What to do if you smell natural gas
Our gas stinks for good reason. Natural gas is odorized to help keep you safe. Many describe it as smelling like rotten eggs. If your nose picks up this scent, immediately evacuate everyone from the building or area. Leave the door open as you leave and warn others to stay away.
Once you’re away from the building, call 911 and our emergency number at 800-890-5554. Don’t attempt to fix or adjust any gas line or related equipment—our trained technicians will take care of that.
Wait for us to arrive and don’t re-enter the building. Emergency personnel will let you know when it’s safe to return. In the meantime, follow these tips to stay safe:
- Never use a mobile phone near the suspected leak.
- Never touch or adjust a light switch or other electronic device.
- Never open or close windows.
- Never start an engine or drive a vehicle.
- Never strike a match or lighter.
Carbon monoxide safety
Each winter, Black Hills Energy technicians respond to carbon monoxide leaks. The hazardous gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and sometimes presents itself in the form of homeowners feeling ‘off,’ or noticing their appliances aren’t performing as well as usual.
Annual maintenance like checking or replacing batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and sweeping the vent can reveal problems long before physical signs arise.
Know the signs of a carbon monoxide leak:
- Flu-like symptoms, including a scratchy throat, runny nose, headache, drowsiness or nausea.
- Frosted windows because of excessive humidity, or a draft from the front of the furnace when it is not turned on.
If you think you have a carbon monoxide leak, get out of your home immediately. Once you’re safe, call 911 or Black Hills Energy’s emergency service line at 888-890-5554 from your cell phone or nearby location.
Excess flow valves
An excess flow valve, or EFV, is a device designed to automatically shut off the flow of natural gas if a service line ruptures or breaks. You have the right to request an EFV be added to your existing gas service line.
If you’d like to have an EFV installed, call us at 888-890-5554. Depending on the regulatory rules in your state or our approved operating terms and conditions, you may be responsible for the cost of installing the EFV. The average cost is $1,000, but varies by difficulty of installation. We can provide a cost estimate at your request.
The EFV is installed on the service pipeline that runs underground between the gas main and Black Hills Energy meter on your property. Installation requires safe digging notification and excavation where the existing gas service line connects to the gas distribution main. During installation, your gas service will be interrupted. EFVs don’t work on all gas service lines, and there may be certain situations where you won’t need an EFV. If you decide you’d like an EFV and are eligible for one, we’ll install the device on a mutually agreeable date.
Installing an EFV doesn’t protect against leaks that might happen in your house or small punctures in the pipe or meter. An EFV doesn’t shut off the flow of gas completely, so some gas could still leak if a pipe or meter is damaged.
Benefits of an EFV
If a meter is damaged during a car crash or similar accident, an EFV will significantly reduce the flow of gas. This can reduce the chance of natural gas-related damage or injury.
More commonly, an EFV restricts gas flow when an excavator accidentally hits a service line. Although an EFV may limit the damage caused by such an incident, the best way to prevent one is to make sure those who are digging on your property call 811.
We’ve installed EFVs on most new or replaced services lines built since 2008. If you want to find out if you already have an EFV, call us at 888-890-5554.
We use a pipeline integrity management plan to maintain a safe, reliable transmission pipeline system. Using this plan, we can monitor and act on any safety-related threats to the pipeline system. Learn more about our pipeline awareness in the brochures linked below.
Your responsibility for buried natural gas lines
Customers are responsible for the maintenance of all natural gas lines extending after the meter to and within their home or business. This can include secondary buildings or equipment like a detached garage, workshop, pool heater or gas grill.
Because we don’t maintain these buried natural gas lines, you should have a qualified professional periodically inspect the buried piping for leaks. If you own buried metallic piping, you also should have a qualified professional periodically inspect it for corrosion.
If you don’t maintain the buried piping, it may be subject to potential hazards of corrosion and leakage. Repair or replace your buried gas piping if you discover any leaks or unsafe conditions.
Any qualified contractor can make repairs and replacements and can perform maintenance. In some cases, we can also do repairs. Proper construction of buried piping is critical for operational safety. Use only approved installation practices and materials.