Home inspectors

Office:  949 716-0934    Cell:  949 981-6558    E-mail:  seay@cox.net

 

 

BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE

IF THE MAIN VALVE WILL NOT ROTATE 1/8 TURN, CALL THE GAS COMPANY, AND THEY WILL COME OUT AND FIX OR REPLACE IT.

 


 

GAS SHUT OFF

Locate main gas shut-off (usually outside the house) at the gas meter. The valve is usually on a pipe coming out of the ground, going into the gas meter. Turn the valve crosswise to the pipe (see the large example on the "Utilities" page under "Before the Earthquake." All the pilot lights in and around your home (stove, furnace, clothes dryer, swimming pool/spa heater, water heater, etc.) will go out when you turn the valve off. You will need to have the gas company, or another qualified individual, relight every pilot when the gas is turned back on. Forgetting to relight all the pilot lights could result in a dangerous gas buildup in your home.

Remember, if you don't smell gas or have severe damage to your home, you should not have to shut the gas off. It's your decision.

Automatic gas shut off valves are an excellent way to ensure that your gas is shut off in case of a major earthquake. With an automatic shut-off valve, your gas will be off even if you aren't home at the time. Contact your local gas company for more information and installation.

Clear the area around the main gas shut-off valve for quick and easy access in case of an emergency.

A wrench (or a specialty tool), for turning off the gas should be attached to a pipe next to the shut-off valve or in another easily accessible location.

You may want to paint the shut-off valve with white or flourescent paint so that it can be located easily in an emergency.

If you are concerned about your ability to turn off the main gas shut-off valve, are unsure if it is in proper working order (indication of rust, etc.), or do not know how to relight your pilot lights, contact your local gas company. They can send a service representative to your house to show you the proper procedure and check the valve and pilot lights to be sure they operate properly.

 


 

ELECTRICAL SHUT-OFF

Locate the main electrical shut-off.

Your house may be equipped with fuses or circuit breakers. If your house has fuses, you will find a knife switch handle or pullout fuse that should be marked "MAIN." If your house has circuit breakers, you may need to open the metal door of the breaker box to reveal the circuit breakers (never remove the metal cover). The main circuit breaker should be clearly marked showing on and off positions. Turn off all the small breakers first, then turn off the "main". If you have any subpanels adjacent to the main fuse, breaker panel, or in other parts of the house, (in an emergency) be safe and shut them off too. Shorts can sometimes develop to cause a circuit to bypass the breaker or fuse.

Note: All responsible family members should be shown how to turn off utilities in case of an emergency. They need to know what the utilities look like in both on and off positions.

 


 

WATER SHUT OFF

Locate the main water service pipe into your house (probably in the front at the basement level). You will see a gate valve on the pipe. If you know you have leaks after an earthquake, you can shut off all water in your house with this valve. You may wish to paint the valve so it is easy to find in an emergency.

You can shut off all water to your property by finding the water meter box (usually at the street or sidewalk). Open the cover with a long screwdriver or specialty tool. If this box is inaccessible or you cannot find it, call your local water department. Be sure to identify this box and the water valve inside before the need to use them arises.

Inside the water meter box, you will see a valve that is similar to the valve on your gas meter. Turn it just the same as your gas valve.

 


 

AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

TURN OFF YOUR GAS METER AT THE SHUT-OFF VALVE:

  • If you smell, hear, or even suspect gas is escaping in your damaged or undamaged building(s).
  • If your gas water heater or any other gas appliance has been knocked over and/or pulled free from its wall connection.
  • If your building has suffered extensive damage, such as large cracks in the walls or in the concrete slab floors, etc. AND you suspect the gas lines may have been damaged.
  • WARNING: If you smell gas don't turn on or off any switches. Don't use any open flame to check for leaks. Don't turn on any battery operated flashlights, unless they are a safety/ waterproof light. Chemical light sticks are a safe source of light in the event of a gas leak.
  • WARNING: It is very dangerous, and therefore not recommended that you go searching for gas leaks inside any damaged building.
  • BE AWARE: After an earthquake, aftershocks will continue to occur, possibly causing additional damage (or even first damage) to your building(s).
  • REMEMBER: Do not turn the gas valve back on after an earthquake, unless a qualified person has checked extensively for gas leaks.
  • REMEMBER: A qualified person or gas company employee will have to relight all the pilot lights.
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