Gas: What you need to know
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Gas is a safe and easy alternative to electricity - but there are a few things you need to know about it before you fire up your cook top.
Is gas safe to use?
Gas is most often used for heating and cooking, and it’s a safe, reliable and convenient alternative to electricity. The gas you use is standard LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) from South African gas supplier Afrox. LPG is made of a mixture of propane and butane gases, and its simple chemical structure means that it’s clean-burning and very safe. Because LPG cannot burn without air, there can never be a “flashback” into the cylinder. And because the gas is stored in a cylinder, it’s easy to move it around the house, or to take it outside.
What sizes are the bottles?
Gas bottles come in a range of sizes, from small, portable cylinders to bigger household units. Most campers and braaiers will be familiar with the blue Cadac range of3kg,4.5 kg, 5kg, 6kg, 7kg and 9 kg cylinders. For household use, larger 9 kg, 19 kg and 48 kg units are also available.
Why does the price of gas change?
LPG is a liquid fuel – and, like petrol, diesel and paraffin, it’s subject to monthly price adjustments, as determined by the Department of Energy, based on local and international factors. Those prices are also different depending on where you buy it. South Africa has 54 LPG zones, each with its own slightly different price level.
How can you detect gas leaks?
Most gas leaks occur from defective rubber tubing, faulty regulator fitting and improper handling of gas appliances. The most obvious way to detect a leak is by smell. LPG is colourless, non-toxic (not poisonous) and odourless – so the “gas” that you smell is actually an odourant that’s added to the mixture to help you detect gas leaks.
If you’re worried that your cylinder may be leaking, there’s an easy way to check:
First, you need the gas open and the appliance knob closed (this will build up pressure in the system).
Next, apply soapy water to the valve area, using a sponge or brush. If there’s a gas leak, bubbles will form at the point of the leak. If your cylinder is leaking, turn off the gas bottle and get it replaced immediately.
How do you know when your gas bottle is empty?
A simple test will show you how much gas is left in your cylinder. Pour hot water down one side of the bottle, and a line of condensation will appear indicating the level of the gas inside. If you don’t get a condensation line, run your hand down the side of the bottle and you should feel a distinct change of temperature at the level of the gas. The surface will be hotter where there is no gas, and cooler where there is gas. If you don’t feel a difference, the cylinder may be empty.
Can I refill the cylinder myself?
No. Gas cylinders are pressurised, and if you attempt to remove or refill that gas, you could suffer a potentially fatal accident. When your cylinder is empty, return it to your local Builders or go online, where they have the correct equipment to replace, refill and exchange gas cylinders safely.
Can I buy gas online?
Yes, as a registered Builders account holder you can purchase gas refills and replacements online – with options for delivery, or in-store collection.
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