When you live somewhere prone to earthquakes like the Greater Seattle, WA and Tacoma Metropolitan area, it is important to take precautions that other home owners may not consider. One of those precautions is an earthquake emergency shutoff valve – a last line of defense that will immediately shutoff access to your natural gas supply when seismic activity is detected.
Valves on your gas lines are incredibly important and an earthquake emergency shutoff valve should be used in conjunction with an excess valve – a separate valve that will detect when excess gas is being released into your lines due to a leak.
Because a gas system is so volatile and potentially dangerous, it is important to have expert, professional help in installation. For that help, Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning can provide the peace of mind you need to know your home will survive even the largest of earthquakes.
Earthquake valves are very sensitive, and will typically respond to magnitude 5.0 earthquakes, or higher. But if you feel an earthquake, and your earthquake valve did not shut off your gas supply, there is still a reasonable chance that there was damage to your pipes. This is why homeowners should still check their gas supply for leaks, and their indoor air quality for traces of harmful gases. If you suspect any pipe damage one of our HVAC technicians can perform diagnosis on your piping systems.
The Right Shut Off Valve
Earthquake emergency shutoff valves come in multiple fitting sizes. Commonly, the half inch fitting size is used for most homes, but only a professional can ensure that a valve is properly matched to the gas piping installed on your home. During installation, the valve will be measured carefully and placement will be determined based on exposure and detection range.
Installing an Earthquake Emergency Shut Off Valve
During installation, we will first shutoff gas to your home – this may require more than an hour without gas access, so it is best to plan a time when you do not need hot water, heat, or your stove. Additionally, it is important to inform your neighbors of the installation so they can turn their gas lines off as well. Most of the time, having only your gas turned off is enough, but it is best to be careful in a close environment, especially if you live in a crowded neighborhood.
Installation of the shutoff valve should only take a few minutes, but it can take upwards of 1–2 hours to finalize the installation as we check for leaks throughout the system. If there is a leak, fittings must be rechecked and realigned, then retested until it is absolutely certain that no leak has occurred.
The Device for Your Home
All earthquake shutoff valves are approved for use by local governments – ensuring that they meet strict requirements for residential use. Bob’s maintains a list of preapproved valves and can help you in making a decision about which is best for your home.
Because the valve must be carefully installed and should not interrupt service to the house or in any way impair the operation of the gas lines going into your home, it is vital that you have a professional assist in preparing and installing the valve on your home.
When it Works
If a shutoff valve closes during an earthquake, you will be without gas for a potentially prolonged period of time. This is a necessary safety precaution as the gas company must check for leaks and ensure that pipe integrity has not been compromised. It is possible that closures of the valve can occur due to reasons other than an earthquake – false closures are rare but do happen. However, it is important that you only contact a professional, either from your local gas company or from Bob’s Heating & Air Conditioning to reopen your gas connection.