Earthquake Shut Off Valves for Gas Lines

Author: Pacific Northwest Inspections Group, LLC   Date: 25-Nov-2013.   Category: Plumbing   Add to Favorites 

Gas Service Shutoff Valves

Manually turning off the gas service shutoff valve is the most common method to stop the flow of gas serving a building, or part of a building, in case of an emergency. Gas service shutoff valves are installed by PSE or Seattle area plumbers at all gas meter locations or outside locations if the meter is not accessible from the outside.

Keep a 12 to 15-inch adjustable pipe wrench or Crescent-type wrench available to close the valve in case of an emergency. Earthquake wrenches with fixed openings may not fit a particular valve, so an adjustable type is best. To minimize the possibility of unauthorized operation of the valve, wrenches should be located nearby, but not at the gas meter location.
  • Shut off the gas service shutoff valve only if you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a gas leak.
  • To shut off the gas, rotate the valve a quarter turn in either direction; the valve is closed when the tang (the part you put the wrench on) is crosswise to the pipe.
  • In addition, most gas appliances have a gas shutoff valve located near the appliance that lets you turn off the gas to that appliance only. Know which of your appliances use gas, and where the appliance gas shutoff valves are located. In some cases, turning off the gas at the appliances shutoff valve will suffice.

Automatic Gas Shutoff Devices

Some cities and counties have regulations that require the installation of automatic gas shutoff devices, which may include excess flow gas shutoff valves and/or earthquake actuated gas shutoff valves. Regulations vary, but generally apply to new building construction, or significant alterations or additions to existing buildings. Check with your local city or county agency to see if regulations apply in your area.

If a customer installs an excess flow gas shutoff valve or earthquake actuated gas shutoff valve, it should be one that is certified by the State of Washington and it should be installed by a licensed plumbing contractor in accordance to the manufacturers instructions. PSE does not install or service seismic actuated or excess flow gas shutoff valves, or recommend specific contractors for customer applications.

The State of Washington is required to approve all excess flow gas shutoff valves and earthquake actuated gas shutoff valves used in the State of Washington. The State of Washington is required to approve all excess flow gas shutoff valves and earthquake actuated gas shutoff valves used in the State of Washington. 

Excess flow gas shutoff valves and earthquake actuated gas shutoff valves must be installed on the buildings gas houseline piping (the gas pipe connecting your appliances to the gas meter) downstream of the utility point of delivery; i.e. after the PSE gas shutoff valve, pressure regulator (if installed), meter(s), and the service tee. No attachments or connections of any kind are allowed on utility facilities prior to the point where the service tee connects to the gas houseline piping. Once installed, the valve must not obstruct the operation or serviceability of PSE’s piping, gas service shutoff valve, gas meter or gas pressure regulating equipment.

In the event that a gas service shutoff valve or an automatic gas shutoff device is closed, there may be a considerable delay before PSE can turn your service on, but do not turn it on yourself. PSE or another qualified professional should perform a safety check, restore gas service, and relight any appliance pilots, even if the closure was not caused by an earthquake.