A-FFIX LLC company head Bruce Schoonmaker explains shut-off valves and their importance in being earthquake prepared.
About automatic gas shut-off
The threat presented by an earthquake doesn’t end when the ground stops shaking. A serious earthquake can damage gas mains, creating highly flammable leaks that put people, possessions, and property at risk. Actions as innocuous as opening a screen door, turning on a light, or generating a static-electric shock can create a spark and ignite leaking gas, creating a conflagration in seconds. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, nearly half of all post-quake fires are estimated to have been caused by leaking gas.
Gas leaks are extremely dangerous, and every precaution should be taken to ensure that gas is shut off when pipelines are disturbed. Making sure that every family member knows how to turn off the gas is a good first step, but family members may not be at home after a quake to turn the gas off manually, leaving your home at risk. An automatic gas shut-off valve ensures that gas is cut off swiftly and reliably following an event, definitively preventing gas leaks.
The Northridge 2000 Automatic Shut-Off Valve uses a simple but effective mechanism to prevent gas from passing through pipes after an earthquake. Significant shaking dislodges a carefully positioned stainless-steel ball from its resting place, blocking the flow of gas. A powerful magnet inside the valve allows you to easily reset the ball, restoring the flow of gas once pipes have been repaired. Among many competing shut-off valves, we like Seismic Safety’s Northridge Valve because it is simple, elegantly designed, and is extremely easy to reset, even in the worst weather conditions. The Northridge Valve is also made locally in Wenatchee, Washington.
Gas fires are a major safety and damage hazard, and they put not only your household but your entire neighborhood at risk. If you use natural gas, an automatic shut-off valve will greatly increase the security of your family and your home. Call A-FFIX LLC to have a gas shut-off valve installed or to learn more. Shut-off valves can be installed on propane and other gas storage tanks that feed into the home.
Why should install a gas shut-off valve?
- Gas fires can be much more destructive to a home than the earthquake itself.
- Even if your house has been secured and survives an earthquake intact, post-quake fires can go on to make it unlivable.
- Limited availability and impaired response times by fire-fighting teams after an earthquake will make post-quake flames even more dangerous than they would be normally.
- The aftermath of an earthquake will be extremely chaotic, and you may not immediately think to turn off the gas meter. If you do remember, you may not be at home to turn it off. Being sure that gas will shut off on its own will remove a significant source of post- disaster stress.
- An earthquake can occur at any time of the day or night. If it strikes while the family is asleep, a significant amount of gas may leak into the house before family members are able to shut off the meter, increasing the risk of fire.
- If a serious gas leak occurs, it can be hard to prevent a fire. Everyday appliances that rely on natural gas to create heat, including water heaters and furnaces, regularly spark as part of their normal functioning and can easily ignite gas. Using the telephone and other everyday appliances, even overhead lights, can also create a spark that will ignite the leaked gas.
What is the process and how much does it cost?
Installing an automatic gas shut-off valve is a fairly simple process that can usually be completed in several hours. No prior inspection is required. A-FFIX LLC works with our sister company, Seismic Shut Off, to install valves. In rare cases in which gas meters are unconventional, additional time may be required and additional fees may apply. Take this important step towards assuring the safety of your home and family–have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed to minimize the risk of gas fire as much as possible.