Natural Gas Shut Off

 If there is any utility I am most cautious about, it is the gas. As part of you preparations, you should know where and how to use the natural gas shut off.

Natural gas actually has no smell. However, the chemical mercaptan is added and it creates an odor, what most people describe as rotten eggs, so a leak can be detected. 

While natural gas is a safe and clean fuel, it is highly combustible and a leak can create a risk of fire or explosion.

Natural Gas Signs of a Leak

Typically natural gas is shut off because of a suspected leak. Besides the smell of rotten eggs possibly indicating a gas leak, some other potential signs of a leak include:

  • The sound of whistling, roaring, or hissing coming from a natural gas appliance.
  • Damaged gas lines going to a natural gas appliance.
  • Grass or shrubs changing color, looking more brown or rusty, could also be an indicator of gas leaking out of the pipe.
  • Unusual bubbling or soil movement, particularly if it’s near the natural gas line going to your house (remember the recommendation to photograph your utility lines…this could help you know if the bubbling is near your gas line).
  • An exposed gas pipeline after a fire, earthquake, or other disaster.

(UGI Energy Link, blog, "I Think I Smell Natural Gas In My House")

While not pretty, this is a gas meter going into a home. The main valve is right below the meter, on the pipe before going into the meter. On this valve, turning it 90-degrees (so the valve is perpendicular to the pipe) shuts if off.

Natural gas meter going into residential home, shut off is highlighted

Natural Gas Leak?

If you smell a gas leak (rotten eggs), or suspect a leak:

  • Don’t do anything that might cause a spark, such as unplugging an electrical device, turning on/off a light switch, or even using a phone. 

  • Immediately extinguish anything that is burning—candles, cigarettes—and don’t light a match, stove, or cigarette lighter.

  • If you can quickly do so, let fresh air inside by opening windows and doors.

  • Turn off the main gas supply, at the meter, and don’t turn it back on until safe to do so.

Get a safe distance away from your home and then make a calls to 911 and your gas provider.

You should definitely call the gas provider about the leak. Most providers recommend calling 911 as a gas leak does constitute an emergency situation that could potentially cause injury or death.

If you turn off the gas supply to your home, it is strongly recommended, and advised, that you call the gas company to turn it back on for you, especially if you suspected a leak.

There are special wrenches for some valves. Other wrenches might be used, but could end up causing damage to the valve. Before you buy a shut-off wrench, make sure it will work for your gas valve.


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