An earthquake gas valve is essential for any home or building that uses gas for appliances like stoves or hot water heaters. This shut off valve can be used to turn off the gas in case of a leak, or an emergency like an earthquake. However, county ordinance codes in the San Francisco area now call for an automatic gas shut off valve for new buildings as well as older structures that undergo more than $10,000 worth of renovations. While buildings that were constructed before the year 2000 may be exempt from making the change from a manual earthquake gas valve to an automatic gas shut off valve, building and home owners are strongly cautioned to make the change.
Why Get an Automatic Shut Off Valve? An earthquake gas valve that is manual is only helpful if you can get to it to turn it off with a wrench. In the case of an earthquake, this will more than likely not be possible. So, if you have a manual gas shut off valve, you run an incredible risk of causing an explosion or a fire in the case of an earthquake. A study of the 1994 Northridge, CA earthquake showed that more than half of the 51 fires started there could have been prevented if each home would have been outfitted with an automatic gas shut off valve. Having an automatic earthquake gas valve installed is now being deemed as necessary as having a smoke detector by many California safety officials. In fact, they recommend getting an excess flow valve as well, which shuts off the gas when a break in the line or a gas leak is detected.
How Does an Automatic Gas Shut Off Valve Work? An earthquake gas valve that is automatic shuts off when there is seismic activity, so that you don't have to worry about a gas leak that will cause a fire or an explosion in your home or building. However, your automatic earthquake gas valve may still need to be bolted down to prevent accidental shut offs. This is because it can also be triggered by the motion of a heavy truck; although many of the newer models are not sensitive to traffic. Even if you do have to reset the automatic earthquake gas valve, though, it is still much better to put up with this occasional inconvenience rather than lose your home to an unnecessary fire or gas explosion.
How Can I Get an Automatic Gas Shut Off Valve? An earthquake gas valve needs to be installed by a professional plumber. That is why at George Salet plumbing, we install automatic gas shut off valves in the San Francisco area, including the Peninsula. We stock automatic earthquake gas valves on the truck and can have it installed in as little as one day. We provide free estimates and flat rate pricing on all of our work and have been since 1979!