Do you own rental property in Houston that uses natural gas or propane? Using gas for fuel is a great way to reduce reliance on the electrical grid and it can be cheaper. However, there are some extra guidelines to follow when you rent property that uses gas.
1. Does your tenant have a gas shut off tool? Do they know how to use it?
Knowing how to shut off the gas is the most important thing you can teach your tenants. Never assume that someone knows how to shut off the gas, even if they’ve rented gas-powered homes before.
Ideally, you should provide a gas shut off tool for your tenants and show them how to turn the gas off. In an emergency situation, there’s no guarantee their tools will be easy to find. If they have a special shut off tool, they can stash it in the closet and it won’t get lost because it won’t be used for anything else.
Be sure to tell your tenants to never turn the gas back on themselves. Gas-powered appliances that use pilot lights will leak gas into the house since the pilot lights will have gone out long ago.
2. Does your tenant know how to turn off the propane directly at the tank?
If your rental property has a large propane tank, make sure your tenants know how to shut it off directly at the tank. You should also show them where to shut off the line that feeds the propane into the house.
Shutting off a propane tank will take some strength. On most tanks, your tenant will need to turn a giant metal wheel several times until it closes.
Your tenant may never need to turn off the propane, but it’s possible. For example, if they smell gas in the house, it’s a good idea to turn off the propane until the possible leak can be investigated.
There are several reasons your tenant might smell gas. Some appliances give off a strong gas smell combined with either rotten eggs or a garlic odor when the pilot light goes out. However, not everyone can smell the distinct odor of garlic and it’s impossible to use smell alone to determine the problem.
Educate your tenants about propane safety and instruct them to call the fire department if they smell gas in the home.
3. Carbon monoxide detectors are a must
When you have gas appliances in a rental property, your tenants need multiple carbon monoxide detectors. Ideally, there should be a detector in every room, and one should be placed close to where each person sleeps.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, and most people don’t know they’ve been poisoned until it’s too late. Since it’s tasteless, invisible, and odorless, it’s impossible to detect carbon monoxide without a device.
According to the CDC, 430 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States. The symptoms include:
- Body weakness
- Chest pain
- Cognitive impairment
Most people know not to use grills or gas generators indoors, but sometimes people can have a moment of absent thinking. Worse, people don’t realize that carbon monoxide can still be present even hours after a barbecue has become cold.
One couple found this out the hard way when they brought their long-extinguished grill into their tent to protect it from the rain. One person died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Another incident occurred near Houston during the Texas ice storm in Feb 2021. A family of six used a charcoal grill to heat their apartment and ended up in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. The family survived, but it could have been much worse.
4. Gas appliances require certified technicians
When you have gas appliances, you can’t have just any technician work on repairs and maintenance. If you need to replace or repair a gas-powered appliance, you’ll need to find someone who has been trained to work specifically with gas-powered appliances.
For example, if you have a propane-powered water heater, you must have a licensed technician work on your appliance. Gas-powered appliances have special safety requirements. Allowing a random contractor to work on your propane water heater could cause a deadly gas leak in the home.
Although many elements are the same, electrical appliances aren’t exactly the same as gas-powered appliances. Certified technicians know the difference. DIY types might be fine working with electric appliances, but don’t allow anyone but a certified technician to work on your gas-powered appliances.
5. Large gas tanks can be fire hazards
If you have a large tank on your property for propane or natural gas, that tank is a fire hazard. It’s important to make sure your tenant doesn’t let the grass or weeds grow around the tank to prevent a fire from starting in the heat.
A fire that burns next to a propane tank for a long enough period of time can result in a BLEVE. A BLEVE is a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion. It happens when the gas is heated from the fire, which builds pressure inside the tank. If the overpressure valve can’t release gas fast enough, the result is an explosion that turns the entire tank into deadly shrapnel that moves in every direction.
In 2018, a 100-pound propane tank behind a sports bar in Houston exploded in a BLEVE, throwing a 4’x8’ sheet of tin into the air before landing by firefighters.
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When you work with us, we’ll take care of all your landlord duties so you can focus on what matters to you. If you need more time to acquire additional investments or find ways to make your existing investments more profitable, call us today.