Since Wednesday's explosion in East Harlem, the New York City Fire Department says it's been getting twice the usual number of calls about possible gas leaks, and while most turn out to be false alarms, when they're not, it's often because of a faulty connection on a common household appliance like your stove. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report with tips on what to watch out for.
The gas connection to a stove is hidden. It's in the back, where you can't see it, and it could be a hazard if not properly hooked up.
"Typically, what goes wrong is, homeowners decide to hook up their own stoves on their own or disconnect them because they're going to do some work in their kitchen, and they're unsure of how to hook them up or test for gas leaks," said Donald Cassamassino, a licensed plumber who's been doing the work for 25 years.
Cassamassino took NY1 step by step on how the job should be done. He said that before getting rid of an old stove or installing a new one, the gas to the house needs to be cut off and the valve needs to be closed.
"When it's parallel to the pipe, it's on. When it is turned off, it's perpendicular. It's intersecting the pipe. It shows that the valve is off," he said.
The fittings on the flexible gas hose need to air tight. Teflon tape should be wrapped around the threads of the joint, pipe joint compound needs to be applied, and when the joint is attached, it must be tightened with a wrench.
To test for leaks, a soap mixture should be sprayed on the fittings. If you see bubbles, the fitting is not air tight, producing a leak.
"They also make devices now that if the gas flex breaks, it would shut the gas off 'cause it would sense heavy flow of gas," Cassamassino said.
More advice: never use the old flexible gas hose with a new stove, and those who deliver a new stove are not usually qualified to install them.
"Homeowners should be aware that when they're having work done on their home that they're using licensed professionals in whatever trade is being done, whether it's licensed plumber, licensed electrician, even licensed contractors," said David Offito of Diamond Era Construction.
To find a licensed professional, it's best to check with the Better Business Bureau or the Department of Consumer Affairs.