Houses are exploding in Massachusetts . Crazy

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  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,343
    It's a real mess, and a significant tragedy, in the Andover/North Andover/Lawrence area right now. One death has been reported as of this morning.

    I don't know what it is about Mass, but issues with natural gas infrastructure (fires and explosions) seem to be far more numerous there than any place else (at least in my experience). Folks in MA tend to be very leery of gas. Consequently, oil heat still predominates in MA. We were very surprised by that when we moved there back in 1991.
  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 12,513
    Have they determined what in the world is causing this?

    Tom
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  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 652
    This has been happening in the DFW area for years. Its mostly related to the natural gas infrastructure as @mhardy6647 stated.

    Based on what I have seen I am glad that the house I purchased 5 years ago does not have natural gas.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,907
    I would imagine some sort of faulty pressure regulation. Horrible in todays day and age it's not a fail safe type system if that's the case.
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  • mrbironmrbiron Posts: 4,840
    Early reports were indicating that since Columbia Gas was working on infrastructure on a large section of pipe, that they may have increased the pressure to balance the system (don’t know how that works). Once the increased the pressure, they blew out the pilots on natural gas appliances allowing the gas to fill the homes. At that point, it only takes a spark to ignite.

    At one point, they were fighting 30 fires across the three towns...

    Glad I’m still on Oil but my new home will be propane. After this, don’t know if i feel better...
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  • mrbironmrbiron Posts: 4,840
    They actually cut the power for all three towns to minimize the ignition source.

    Also, on the news last night, the FBI was called in. This should get interesting.

    There are 140,000 residents between those three towns and the mayors were telling everyone to evacuate their homes that had gas appliances until the fire department had a chance to clear the area.
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  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,343
    I worked in Andover for sixteen years. In a wry twist, the company I worked for there, who also had (have) a biotech manufacturing facility on site, cut a deal with one of the natural gas suppliers to place a high pressure natural gas "substation" (or whatever they call 'em) on the back parking lot of the site (near I-93). It is pretty well fenced off, but stuff like this makes one a little... edgy. :/
  • SIHABSIHAB Posts: 166
    I love the fire chief reminding people that it is their responsibility to shut off their gas.
  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 12,513
    If my house was at risk of blowing up? I would have no issues with that.

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,907
    mrbiron wrote: »
    Early reports were indicating that since Columbia Gas was working on infrastructure on a large section of pipe, that they may have increased the pressure to balance the system (don’t know how that works). Once the increased the pressure, they blew out the pilots on natural gas appliances allowing the gas to fill the homes. At that point, it only takes a spark to ignite.

    At one point, they were fighting 30 fires across the three towns...

    Glad I’m still on Oil but my new home will be propane. After this, don’t know if i feel better...

    there are processes in place to avoid this. Most every other parts of the country employs them. Chicago, itself being fairly old with old infrastructure, some dating back to the 1800's, doesn't experience these types of gas problems. I still ran into wood water mains in the downtown area, we used to just stick a cork in the leaks.

    Granted, crap happens sometimes but when the gas company themselves create the issue, one has to start asking questions.
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  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,343
    edited September 14
    FWIW, I an not sure if a special tool is needed for shutoff?

    When we lived in CA (earthquake country), the strong recommendation was to buy the proper wrench to operate the shut off and put it near the gas meter. Due to (AFAIK) earthquake related regs in CA, the meters were outside. Also, at least when we lived there, gas lines typically went no further than the garage -- not into the house itself. Thus, we had gas heat and hot water (furnace & hot water heater in the garage), but an electric range & dryer inside the house!

    Yeah, we bought a wrench, in a little plastic toolbox, and put it under the gas meter :)

    I do know that the LPG we have here can be shut off by hand outside (there's a valve with a lever-style handle on it at the tank, and another one where the line comes into the house).


  • SIHABSIHAB Posts: 166
    Just checked mine and it looks like a brass wedge that should be turned counter-clockwise? Maybe a hex key for adjustment?? Leaving some pliers by it. (though I don't want to experiment) An all purpose site! :)
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,879
    Who still has gas appliances with a pilot light? That's ancient tech. and not even still available. Everything sold in the past 15 years + should have electronic ignition, for the very reason of a pilot light going out and filling a room with gas.

    Still, I'm not making light of the tragedy, it's a terrible thing that I'm sure those involved never imagined could happen so frequently.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  • mrbironmrbiron Posts: 4,840
    SIHAB wrote: »
    I love the fire chief reminding people that it is their responsibility to shut off their gas.

    HAHA....i did see that flash on the TV several times last night.

    “If you know how to turn your gas off, do so immediately”

    That’s exactly what you want people doing...
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,907
    edited September 14
    heiney9 wrote: »
    Who still has gas appliances with a pilot light? That's ancient tech. and not even still available. Everything sold in the past 15 years + should have electronic ignition, for the very reason of a pilot light going out and filling a room with gas.

    Still, I'm not making light of the tragedy, it's a terrible thing that I'm sure those involved never imagined could happen so frequently.

    H9

    Brock, it's not old tech. My water heater is gas with a pilot light, my furnace is too, and both are newer. Electronic ignition is more so for stoves, gas grills, but other appliances still have a pilot light. Not everyone has newer appliances either, especially in some of these older neighborhoods.

    The new tech, is when the pilot light goes out for whatever reason, the gas shuts off automatically.
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  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,879
    edited September 14
    My furnace is 16 years old and does not have a pilot light. Water heater is a little newer, no pilot light. Stove 5 years old, no pilot light. It's not common A) for efficiency B.) safety.

    But I don't live in that part of the country so I can't say what the norm is. I would never buy a new gas appliance that has a pilot light.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  • 20 year old furnace and WH here, both electronic. I would have thought the pilot light would have died some 25-30 years ago, I guess not.
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  • mrbironmrbiron Posts: 4,840
    So I asked a couple of plumbers onsite how this could happen. They speculated that the pressure was so high, that it blew the regulators right off the equipment.

    Per the news, it's still being investigated.
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  • kevhed72kevhed72 Posts: 3,313
    That is weird....and I complain about not having any gas service to our subdivision. Granted I live in GA., but electric heat kinda blows and electric clothes dryers really blow! Literally and figuratively :D
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 18,396
    Gas is best for stovetop cooking, but an electric oven for baking, imho.
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  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 12,513
    Gas rocks. End result for cooking?

    The ONLY thing that rocks that?

    Open fire.

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.
  • obieoneobieone Posts: 5,057
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    It's a real mess, and a significant tragedy, in the Andover/North Andover/Lawrence area right now. One death has been reported as of this morning.

    I don't know what it is about Mass, but issues with natural gas infrastructure (fires and explosions) seem to be far more numerous there than any place else (at least in my experience). Folks in MA tend to be very leery of gas. Consequently, oil heat still predominates in MA. We were very surprised by that when we moved there back in 1991.

    RI always seemed to have it worse, which makes sense considering their gas piping codes, which are/were bizarre.
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  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 11,102
    edited September 15
    mrbiron wrote: »
    Once the increased the pressure, they blew out the pilots on natural gas appliances allowing the gas to fill the homes. At that point, it only takes a spark to ignite....
    not quite sure how gas would still flow after pilot is out. Anything with a standing pilot light must have a thermal coupling device that the pilot light burns against. The light goes out thermal coupler shuts off the gas. Even when the thermal coupler goes bad the gas is shut off it's pretty Fail-Safe. In anything that does not have a standing pilot light has a piezoelectric igniter so the gas only flows for a brief second to be ignited. Stoves that use piezoelectric igniters the gas is never on unless you manually turn the knob.

    Over pressure caused the aged pipe to give out and when they come apart there is a great chance for sparks.

  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 11,102
    20 year old furnace and WH here, both electronic. I would have thought the pilot light would have died some 25-30 years ago, I guess not.

    It didn't it came back because moisture build up and drip on the ignition source and it will not light. Small standing pilots keep enough heat to avoid this in all but the worst cases. I've put 4 brand new water heaters in the last few years and all had sealed standing pilot lights.


  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 6,931
    edited September 15
    I've read that the piping in the ground is old. In some places, like 100 years. They used coal gas back then.

    Post edited by SCompRacer on
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  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 13,041
    We got old everything, and all of it is deteriorating rapidly, more rapidly then they can repair it.

    Of course if they had been doing it all along, it wouldn't be so bad now. But that would have meant utilizing common sense.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,907
    Cost money Cathy, which means raising taxes. Most politicians don't exactly get elected by promising to raise your taxes.

    What little extra they do get, goes to pensions for a host of jobs, and even then they can't keep up with what they promise everyone. Out of sight, out of mind, that's the benefit to underground utilities to politicians.

    What kills me is, most major metro cities have an over abundance of workers doing next to nothing. They could be doing some of these infrastructure jobs to a certain extent besides just filling pot holes.

    Also, in old gas pipes, water pipes, electric cables....chances are they are in areas built up already with heavy demands. To dig up some of these areas will be very costly to replace. No matter, has to be done sooner or later. Most cities choose later though.

    Some wait for a big developer to want to build, then stick them with upgrading the infrastructure costs in the surrounding area. This adds costs to a project, sometimes reflected in your taxes too but the reasoning is hidden from view because of the benefit of what is being built.
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  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 18,396
    There is new tech either existing already, or coming available soon, that will allow crews to re-line existing pipes and repair crack and such without the need to dig or actually replace them.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,907
    Actually John, that tech has been around for decades. Has it's limits too. We used it in sewer repairs and gas repairs but certain states requirements won't let a re-lining of gas pipes happen. Very strict regulations on gas pipes, new ones anyway. It's no good for water pipes also. Since you have to dig to replace the water pipes, they usually replace the sewer pipes too within the same trench. We've used that tech in rich historic neighborhoods that don't want the streets dug up/destroyed. Big cities can use it only in certain places, but most times because of poor record keeping, they have no idea what goes where or even whats in the ground at all. What lines are live, or abandoned years ago.

    Know who keeps fighting it ? Unions....the technology kills jobs.
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