If you live in California, experiencing earthquakes could be a common occurrence. Earthquakes are one of the most dangerous natural disasters, and can cause a lot of damage to your home, especially a high magnitude one. When an earthquake occurs, your home may potentially be damaged; earthquakes can break a gas line or shut-off your gas valve, causing it to fail to operate. It can also create a potentially lethal explosion that can destroy your home and cause burns, injuries, or even death.
While it is impossible to foretell when the next earthquake will occur, you certainly do not want to be taken by surprise. That’s why we recommend you install a seismic valve. However, considering the level of safety involved in this process, it is essential that you only contact a professional plumbing repair expert. Here are the necessary things to know about earthquake shut-off valves.
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If you are planning to buy a seismic valve, it is essential to keep the following factors into account:
Seismic valves are broken down into two categories: motion sensors and excessive flow sensors. Motion sensing seismic valves rely on a caged ball that, when exposed to motion, is shaken loose and covers the valve opening. These can be tricky because if they are too sensitive, the ball can be shaken loose by cars driving by or the neighbor playing basketball. Excessive flow sensors read the amount of natural gas that passes through the valve. Large leaks are registered as excessive flow, so the valve is tripped and natural gas flow to the house is shut off. These don’t tend to detect small leaks, which can be just as dangerous if left unchecked.
The cost of the valves varies depending on the size of the pipe and the amount of pressure that is normally carried within that pipe. Small pipes, such as those found in residential homes and small businesses, cost less than larger pipes, such as those used in industrial settings. Contact us for a free estimate.
It is not generally recommended to install a seismic valve yourself. If you are installing one on your home due to the requirements of your homeowner’s insurance company, they will likely require you to hire a licensed contractor to complete the installation.
Most valves are color coded. An open valve that has not been affected by a seismic event will show green in its status window. If the valve has been tripped and is currently closed, the status window will be red.
Most earthquake prone states do not require the installation of a seismic valve. A number of companies that offer homeowner’s insurance in those states do require that you have a seismic valve installed, to lower the chance of explosion or fire during an earthquake. Overall, if you live in a seismically active area and use natural gas to cook with or heat your home, the onetime cost of installing a seismic valve is infinitely less than the cost of rebuilding a home that exploded due to a natural gas leak.