Earthquake shut-off valves (sometimes called seismic valves) regulate the flow of gas in the event of an earthquake. They are installed directly to your meter, and they work by using motion-sensor technology to detect seismic activity and in turn automatically shut off the gas flowing into your home. Since these shutoff effects are immediate, there is far less to worry about following an earthquake. Gas leaks are often initially undetectable, and many people only realize they have one after it is too late.
All the gas that flows into your home comes from lines in the street that connect through your utility company’s meter. If you ever need to turn that gas off in your home, you do so by locating your meter and turning the valve to the off position. However, in the event of a sudden earthquake, it may be difficult or impossible to get to the meter and shut it off before damage is done. Even small tremors can lead to serious trouble.
It is surprising how few of these I actually see on homes when I tour properties with buyers. The valves themselves cost about $100 if you were to buy one at Home Depot, and the price of installation varies depending on your situation. Most plumbers will have to come out to take a look at the gas meter first before giving a quote, though prices should range from about $550 for a ¾” pipe to $750 for a 1” pipe.
I’m not the only one that thinks these devices make sense. The Los Angeles Times said in May 1999 that
“About half of the 51 gas related fires after the Northridge earthquake would have been prevented by the [seismic gas shut-off] valves”.
Since we live in earthquake territory, this seems like a really good investment to protect your home. I am in the process of getting plumbing bids to have one installed at my home.
If you want to talk more about this or about the market in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out!