Gas shut-off valves …. yay or nay?

A few months ago Matt and I were working with clients who bought their homeowners’ insurance through Allstate, which required them to install an automatic gas shut-off valve on their gas meter. It’s a safety feature which, you guessed it, shuts off the gas to the house if there’s a sizable earthquake. They’re already required on new construction in several places throughout California (Marin County and Los Angeles, among others), but so far they’re not required in San Francisco.

There’s an article in this week’s San Francisco Bay Guardian about the issue. The Department of Building Inspection, PG&E, the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Services all weighed in about the valves — and it’s not at all clear what’s going to be required, when the rules might change and who’s going to pay if they do.

In the meantime, remember that after an earthquake, if you smell gas, you can turn off the gas yourself. Keep a wrench — the kind designed for gas valves — by your gas meter and give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. PG&E has quite a bit of helpful information on their site about what to do and what not to do if you suspect a gas leak, as well as details about the automatic gas shut-off devices.

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