Officials and technicians with Enstar Natural Gas Company were in Homer last week to talk to a group of do-it-yourselfers with plans to convert the appliances in their homes and businesses to natural gas.
The main takeaway from the discussion was "safety first." Enstar Service Technician Mark Forbes said a little temporary unhappiness is worth a customer’s permanent safety.
“We really want to give you natural gas. But, as a natural gas provider we need to make sure we are giving you gas to a safe appliance that is installed properly, as per code and as per manufacturer instructions,” he said.
Forbes reminded everyone who attended that if they are going to do the work themselves, they are taking on the same responsibilities as a licensed contractor. He said that means there are no excuses when it comes to executing the conversion.
“If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, that’s probably a good sign that you shouldn’t be doing it. So we highly, highly recommend that you work with a qualified heating contractor to do your job. And if you feel good about it, that’s okay, that’s your right. We’re not here to say you cannot do it as a homeowner as long as you follow manufacturer instructions and code,” he said.
Forbes said they will look specifically for code compliance relating to venting, combustion air and piping. He said homeowners also must fill out a form called a “Residential Natural Gas Equipment Usage Data Sheet.” A copy of that sheet is available at the Enstar website or at the construction office on Sterling Highway in Homer.
“You’re gonna write I’m gonna have a 1,000 BTU boiler or a 65,000 BTU range or 25,000 BTU dryer… we need all of that information,” he said.
Forbes said adding the most accurate information possible on that sheet is important because Enstar will base the meter size and piping that goes into your home on the amount of BTUs listed. A BTU is a unit of measure for energy.
He said if too much additional load is added later, customers must let Enstar know and technicians will be back out to dig up the line and replace the meter. There will be a fee attached to the visit as well. Enstar has added a Homer specific page to its website. The company also has a list of accepted code books for the Kenai Peninsula if homeowners plan to do the conversion themselves.