Homeowner Gas Safety Information Guide

 

The following information should be carefully reviewed before performing any gas work.

The information contained in this guide will provide a good understanding of the procedures and requirements for completing gas work under a homeowner permit issued by Technical Safety BC.

If you have someone helping, it is important for that person to also review this information.

Introduction

Like many homeowners in BC, you may choose to perform gas installation work or use and store gas products.

Learning about gas safety rules and regulations and obtaining the appropriate permits will help keep you and your family safe.

This booklet is not intended as a “how to” guide on gas installation or propane storage. Rather, it is intended to assist you in understanding Technical Safety BC’s procedures and requirements as set out by provincial regulations and Technical Safety BC policies.

The following are explanations of common terms that will be used throughout this book.

Safety Standards Act

In British Columbia, gas work is regulated under the Safety Standards Act and the regulations adopted under this Act. The Safety Standards Act applies to everyone who installs, alters, maintains, or operates gas equipment.

Safety Standards General Regulation

The Safety Standards General Regulation describes the requirements for performing gas work. This includes: who can do gas work, permit requirements, obtaining inspections, and what equipment is permitted to be used in BC. 

Prior to beginning work, be familiar with these standards to ensure that your gas work complies with BC regulations. The regulations and code rules explained in this booklet are provided to help homeowners avoid some of the most common mistakes found by our gas safety officers.

CSA B149.1 Natural Gas and B149.2 Propane Codes

Gas equipment and installation by homeowners must meet the minimum requirements of the provincially adopted national codes. The code is not an instruction manual. The object of the code is to prevent operational and safety hazards for the installation and storage of gas equipment.

The applicable codes for homeowners are the CSA B149.1 Installation Code and the B149.2 Propane Storage and Handling Code. It is important to understand that the Code is a minimum requirement. In order to prevent the risk of gas leaks and combustion hazards, all installation, use and storage requirements must meet or exceed the minimum standard. Since the code sets the minimum standard, a gas installation that does not meet this standard cannot be considered compliant or safe.

Homeowners should be aware that they are dealing with a potentially hazardous product when doing their own renovations or installations.
 

Leaks and combustion hazards

Before embarking on the installation of gas appliances, homeowners should be aware of the hazards associated with gas installations for gas work. Natural gas and propane are non-toxic but can be explosive under certain conditions. The products of combustion (fumes) may be toxic or flammable and must be taken out of the building by the appliance vent or chimney system. Most common incidents involving gas appliances have been related to non-compliant use or improper venting. For these reasons, gas installations by homeowners have an inspection priority for Technical Safety BC.

Where to get more information?

This booklet does not provide a list of the gas installation code rules. For code information, refer to the CSA  B149.1 – 15 Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code and the CSA B149.2 – 15 Propane Storage and Handling Code.

The British Columbia Natural Gas and Propane Codes are the national gas installation codes that have been adopted by reference and use in BC. These are the definitive resources for gas industry workers across Canada, and they reflect the latest advances in technology and corresponding safety requirements.

These have been reviewed by regulatory authorities across Canada and new editions are usually adopted into law by the province shortly after release. A copy of the code can be purchased online from the Canadian Standards Association or accessed at most public libraries. Variations from the national code are identified in the schedule of the Gas Safety Regulation.


It is important that you consult your local gas safety officer, if you are unfamiliar with a rule. Gas safety officers are here to help you do the job correctly, minimize the risk of safety hazards, and  avoid redoing your work.

For general inquiries contact Technical Safety BC and ask for the gas safety officer contact information for your area.

When to hire a contractor?

If the job appears too large or if you feel unsure of your ability to complete the job properly, contact a licensed gas contractor. This may result in a cost savings as well, depending on the scope of work. Make sure that the contractor you hire is licensed. 

When do you need a permit?

The majority of gas installations and renovations require a permit.

  Permit Required 
Installing or replacing all gas appliances, such as a fireplace, water heater, furnace, boiler, range or cook top. Yes
Installing or replacing gas piping or vent systems Yes
Replacing an existing certified portable natural gas or propane cylinder connected barbeque. Yes

Gas permits

If you decide to take on a gas installation or alteration in your home, Technical Safety BC is here to help you ensure that your work is safe and compliant to the codes in BC. We’ll assess that you have sufficient knowledge and experience to do the work properly and safely. If your application qualifies, we’ll issue to you a permit that signifies that you have met the requirements. At times, we’ll also inspect your work to ensure it meets the required safety standards.

Renovations and installations done without permits can seriously hurt the resale value of your home, or worse, your family’s safety. The person doing the work should be the one to obtain the permit and is responsible for complying with safety standards. If you hire a licensed contractor, the contractor is responsible for getting the permit. When using a licensed contractor, always obtain a copy of the permit for your records.

Installation permits

Homeowners and licensed gas contractors require an installation permit to install or alter gas appliances such as furnaces, boilers, ranges, cooktops, clothing dryers, fireplaces, and hot water heaters. For some installation permits, the gas safety officer may request the applicant submit technical drawings of the gas system or proposed gas system with the application.

During the completion of each phase of installing the gas system, the holder of the permit has several duties. One of the duties is to notify Technical Safety BC that the work complies with the requirements. This is accomplished by submitting in a notification of completion, installation, or alteration form to Technical Safety BC when the final job is completed.

 

Permits

Getting a permit

Homeowners doing gas installations require a permit before they begin. Gas permits are issued by Technical Safety BC and by municipalities, in some jurisdictions. Review jurisdiction information before you begin.

If you are unsure whether a permit is required, call us toll free at 1 866 566 7233.

Information you will need when applying for a permit:

  • The site address
  • The phone number where you can be contacted
  • The characteristics of your gas supply or service
  • A description of the work being proposed
  • The number, type of and BTU input of appliances for installation or replacement

Important note: The site address must be posted in a noticeable location in the job site. A map of direction may also be provided if necessary.

Permit fees

For homeowner gas permits, permit fees are based on the number of appliances being installed.

Fees for permits issued by Technical Safety BC include up to a maximum of two inspections. Additional inspection fees will be charged to the homeowner at the applicable professional hourly rate. For any items being installed that are not included in this fee schedule, please contact a gas contractor.

Please note that each municipal jurisdiction below will have its own fee schedule. If work is being done in any of these locations, contact the office in your jurisdiction to determine the applicable fees. Technical Safety BC does not have residential single family dwelling jurisdiction for the gas technology over the following areas:

  • City of Vancouver
  • City of North Vancouver
  • District of North Vancouver
  • City of Kelowna
  • Corporation of the District of Maple Ridge
  • City of Burnaby
  • City of Richmond

Installation and Responsibilities

Gas installation by homeowners

You may not complete any work on a gas system without a permit. In order to do the work, we recommend that you hire a licensed contractor. If you wish to undertake the work and if you have sufficient knowledge, tools, testing equipment, and ability to do the work, you may apply for a permit, provided that:

  • The work will be done on a single-family fully detached dwelling that is, or is intended to be, your permanent dwelling, as long as it is not a rental unit.
  • The fully detached dwelling does not include one or more self-contained suites.
  • No strata is involved or applicable.
  • No other person is being paid to do the work.

There is no other dwelling or premises directly attached to the single-family dwelling (such as a duplex). The work may be done on your vacation premises, such as a cottage, provided that the premises will not be rented or used as a source of income for the owner.

Gas appliances must be certified or approved

For a gas appliance to be installed, it must display a Canadian accepted label or a certification mark

For the re-installment of all gas appliances, a gas fitter must examine, certify, and if necessary, repair an appliance before it may be reinstalled.

Homeowner qualifications

A homeowner must not perform regulated work on gas systems or gas equipment, unless you are in accordance with section 27 of the Safety Standards Act. If you have sufficient knowledge and experience to do regulated work, such as installing gas equipment, you may apply for an installation permit.

Before applying for a permit, you should have a good understanding of your obligations under the Safety Standards Act.
 

Installation and responsibilities

Before applying for a permit, you should:

  • Fully understand your obligations under the Safety Standards Act, the General Regulation, and Gas Safety Regulation.
  • Complete the Gas Homeowner Questionnaire.
  • Read the terms and conditions set out on the back of the permit application form before signing and submitting the form.
  • Sign the application, accepting these terms and conditions before the permit will be issued.
  • Read this information guide before proceeding with any work.
  • Submit all documentation with the installation permit application.

In some cases, a gas safety officer may need to review your permit application before the permit will be issued. You may be required to provide evidence that you are qualified to perform the gas work safely depending on the scope of work. After reviewing your permit application, a gas safety officer may set additional terms and conditions when issuing the permit. You will be expected to acknowledge this written agreement prior to permit issuance.

Mobile Homes

A mobile home is considered to be a single family dwelling. However, if a mobile home is located on a commercial property, such as an RV site or located at a mobile home park, there are restrictions on the work that can be done.

Owners of other types of buildings

Owners of a strata, non-strata duplex or home with legal suites, and those operating a business from their home, cannot obtain homeowner permits, and must hire a licensed contractor to perform legal, permitted work. For more information, please read the Homeowner definition in the Gas Safety Regulation section of Technical Safety BC’s website.

The Inspection Process

Depending on the fee you paid, your permit comes with a limited number of inspections. Check the Gas Fee Schedule when you apply for a permit.

Inspections

Most homeowners are not qualified as gas fitters and need to be aware of the potential hazards involved when installing appliances, such as a barbecue or stove. The work may pose a risk or hazard, and so it is critical for a safety officer to conduct an on-site inspection during various phases of an installation or alteration. This is to ensure that the result is safe and complies with the codes and regulatory requirements.

Technical Safety BC’s client care specialists may provide you with assistance in determining the number of inspections you will need. If you require more inspections than your permit fee entitlement allows, you may be charged additional fees at an hourly rate as set out in the Gas Fee Schedule.

Please check with a client care specialist, or the gas safety officer in your area for inspection scheduling information.

Standard inspection process

An inspection is required when work is completed at certain stages of the installation. As the permit holder, it is your duty to request an inspection from Technical Safety BC once the work has been completed. You must request at least one inspection, at every 120 day period. This means that you must request an inspection within 120 days from the time the permit is issued to you, and you must request at least one inspection within 120 days from the date of your last inspection. This is necessary and is required even if no gas work has been done since the last inspection.

The inspection process

You will be required to make arrangements for the required inspection within the time frame indicated above, or as specified by the gas safety officer. If you do not respond to the gas safety officer, or if you do not make arrangements for the required inspection, your permit may be canceled and you will be required to obtain the services of a licensed gas contractor to complete the gas work.

Please make sure that you request inspections regularly and respond to a gas safety officer’s request in a timely manner when they contact you.

Requesting inspections

Inspections may be requested by:

For final inspection requests, the permit holder must provide the permit number when making the request and complete the Notification of Installation and Completion form.

Types of inspections

Typically, two inspections will be required during the course of your installation. The preliminary inspection, known as “rough in” inspection, is performed once the appropriate gas piping and venting has been installed, but before new or replacement appliances have been installed. The final inspection is performed once all work has been completed and the entire installation is ready for inspection.

Note that:

  • No portion of any new piping or venting system may be covered or concealed prior to being inspected.
  • The permit holder will be responsible for all work and costs associated with uncovering any portion of the installation which has not been inspected.
  • The permit holder must contact the safety officer prior to initiating a pressure test.
  • The gas supply must not be turned on until the safety officer has given approval.

Once all work is completed and ready for a final inspection, the permit holder must:

Due to the heavy volume of inspection requests, inspection for work completed may not be scheduled too far in advance. If the gas installation is time sensitive, (e.g., due to other constraints such as insulation installation, drywall installation, or a lack of heat) it is recommended that the homeowner seek the services of a licensed contractor rather than obtaining a homeowner permit.

Certificate of Inspection

After the inspection has been completed, the gas safety officer will provide you with a Certificate of Inspection showing the results of the inspection.

Additional inspections and fees

The Homeowner Permit fee includes  one preliminary inspection and one final inspection. If additional inspections are required, the permit holder will be billed at the hourly rate specified on the Gas Technology Fee Schedule. The billing rate is subject to change in accordance with the Gas Technology Fee Schedule. Additional inspections, and payment of their associated fees, are required if:

  • The installation has failed an inspection
  • The permit holder requests an inspection and the work has not been completed by the start of the inspection
  • Non-compliances have been identified on the Certificate of Inspection
  • The inspection is canceled or rescheduled with less than 24 hours notice
If you have any doubt as to the validity of a label or mark on a piece of equipment, call your gas safety officer before you install it.

Gas Service Connection

Call before you dig

If you are building a new home, or if you need to relocate your current fuel supply, be sure to contact your gas supplier or utility (such as Fortis Gas, PNG or your local propane supplier) for service connection. Be aware of underground pipes bringing gas to your house and call before you dig (BC One CALL: 1 800 474 6866) when you are building, making additions to your home, doing major landscaping or installing fence posts.

If you have shut off your gas or propane in case of an emergency or otherwise, be sure to leave it to an expert to turn it back on again. Once the source is shut off, a qualified technician who can assess the appliances and venting should be the person to turn it back on again. Be sure to plan carefully!

Do not probe to locate gas installations. As a homeowner, you must never probe with pointed tools to locate gas installations.

If you have shut off your gas or propane in case of an emergency or otherwise, be sure to leave it to an expert to turn it back on again. Once the source is shut off, a qualified technician who can assess the appliances and venting should be the person to turn it back on again. Be sure to plan carefully!

 

 

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Look into getting a carbon monoxide detector for your home. It’s like a smoke detector, but sounds an alarm if too much carbon monoxide builds up in the air.

What is CO?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that blocks your body’s ability to absorb oxygen.

Where might CO come from in my home?

Carbon monoxide may come from several sources in your home, including fireplaces, cars, furnaces, water heaters, or gas ranges. When outside appliances like barbeques or stoves are brought into enclosed spaces or appliances like fireplaces, stoves and furnaces are not maintained, CO can get trapped and create a toxic environment.

Are there any other things I should be looking for?

Condensation on windows, plants dying, or having the entire family sick at the same time can be indicators that there are toxic levels of CO in your home.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

CO Poisoning at low concentration has symptoms that are similar to the flu – headaches, nausea and fatigue. At higher concentrations, people can experience chest pains, vomiting, convulsions, confusion, dizziness, become unconscious, or even die.


CO detector requirements

CO detectors are currently only mandatory in new homes, but they greatly increase your ability to prevent CO poisoning. CO detectors can be hardwired to your home or battery operated. If battery operated, the batteries should be changed every six months. CO detectors should be replaced as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to choose a CO detector

When shopping for a CO detector, be sure that it is Canadian certified. It should have an accepted certification label printed on the package, indicating that it meets Canadian safety standards.

Where should I put the CO detector in my home?

Generally, there should be a CO detector placed within five feet of every bedroom door and they should be installed as per the manufacturer’s certified instructions. This will help you hear the alarm(s) if you are sleeping. Combination smoke and CO detectors are also available.

Reducing the risk of CO exposure

DO NOT use any of these, or similar gas fueled devices and appliances, in an enclosed space such as a vehicle, tent, RV, cabin, or garage.
Placing any of these appliances in an enclosed space will quickly consume the available oxygen and create a poisonous carbon monoxide filled environment.
Gas fueled devices
Gas devices poll

 

 

 

If gas leaks in your home

If you cause damage during a gas installation, which results in the escape of gas, you must immediately take the following necessary steps:

  • Notify those in the premises that may be affected to evacuate.
  • Notify the gas company and call 911.
  • Warn all individuals in any nearby buildings in which a gas odour is present, to evacuate the building.

Easy tips for your home

Most incidents are a result of homeowners being unaware of the gas safety. Natural gas and propane are non-toxic, but can be explosive.

  • Keep your gas meter clear of snow, ice, leaves and debris, and don’t enclose it.
  • Keep the area around your furnace or water heater clear.
  • Only buy gas appliances certified by trusted testing organizations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratory Canada (UL)©.
  • Have a licensed gas contractor install and inspect your appliances, piping and vents regularly to ensure they are in good condition.
  • Keep your appliance manuals and read them for safe use and care.
  • Have gas appliances like water heaters, furnaces and fireplaces (gas and wood burning) serviced annually, ideally every September.

Homeowners require their own instruments and tools to install and commission appliances as per the certified installation instructions.

A safety officer does not and shall not supply these in order to assist in completing the procedure for the homeowner. It is not within the scope of work for safety officers to supply tools and equipment, nor is it their responsibility to provide hands on guidance or instruction.

The role of the safety officer is to review, investigate and assess your work to ensure safety standards are being met. If you need instruments, tools or help completing a task,  it is recommended that you hire a registered licensed contractor.

Gas safety is a responsibility that everyone should have knowledge of. Whether it is installing a gas fireplace or excavating at a construction site, everyone needs to be aware of the appropriate safety requirements.

Contact us by email or phone, for any clarification.

Was this page useful to you?