Earthquake Gas Shutoff Valves Save Lives

An earthquake sensitive automatic gas shut off valve is a very simple device that mounts on the gas line between your gas meter and your home. Inside the valve is a heavy steel ball that rests on a pedestal. In the event of an earthquake the steel ball falls off it’s pedestal and plugs the gas line, stopping gas flow into your home.

Earthquake valves are set to close the gas flow into your home whenever a seismic event over magnitude 5.4 occurs.

An earthquake natural gas shut off valve can be prone to false trips. In the event that you get up one morning or return from vacation and you have no gas to your appliances then you simply check your earthquake shut off valve.

Be sure you haven’t had a seismic event with ruptured lines before resetting an earthquake emergency gas shut off valve.

The earthquake gas shut off valve reset is quite simple. Since it varies slightly between manufacturers your installer should thoroughly explain how to reset earthquake gas shut off valve. The earthquake gas shut off valve reset process can be found in the user instructions that come with the valve.

It would be a very different approach if an actual earthquake happened with a magnitude over 5.4 because the integrity of the gas lines in your home could have been compromised or broken and all gas lines would have to be pressure checked before gas could be turned back on.

A bracket or stabilizer should be installed between the wall of the house and the seismic valve near the meter to prevent incidental trips that can sometimes close the valve due to heavy truck traffic or other vibrations that do occasionally happen.

This stabilizer also transmits shock waves of an earthquake from the structure to the seismic valve.

Whether you should own an earthquake shut off valve or not depends on your sense of preparedness and how uncertain or certain you may be about the inevitability of an earthquake.

Having a seismic valve also depends on local codes. New construction in places like California are requiring them on new construction and on some remodels depending on what is being remodeled. Also some ownership transfers are requiring earthquake valves to be installed.

With an earthquake often comes fire and broken pipes, including gas pipes. Without an earthquake seismic valve gas would be feeding the fire.

Even if their was no fire and you did have a broken gas line, any spark could set off an explosion. Having a seismic valve would help prevent that explosion.

Gas utilities also have seismic shutoff systems for their entire grid of piping. You might say that seems redundant, but public safety is what utilities are all about.

You might be asking yourself why if the gas utility has seismic earthquake shutoff systems in place then why do you need one?

If you ever fly with commercial airlines you may be aware that airliners and most aircraft have redundant systems. Like two fuel pumps. If one fails then another takes over. Redundancy just makes sense in aircraft and earthquakes.

Who Can Do A Seismic Earthquake Gas Valve Installation?

Most heating and air conditioning contractors or plumbers would be qualified to install a seismic gas shut off valve.

In most jurisdictions even home owners can do gas piping on their own homes. Sometimes working with gas ignites a little apprehension or anxiety, but it can be done very safely with just a little instruction.

Most installation instructions published by manufacturers of seismic valves say that there valves should be installed by qualified installer.

National Fuel Gas Code (ANSI Z223.1), and, if applicable, the National Electrical Code (ANSI/NFPA 70). Installation and maintenance must be performed by personnel having the qualifications required by law to install and service natural gas lines and equipment.

Always check with your local building department for code restrictions and whether or not you need to get a gas shut off valve permit or and ask if a home owner is qualified to install before beginning this project.

Tips On Installing A Seismic Earthquake Gas Shut Off Valve

  • Valves need to be level
  • Pipe sizes are critical
  • Use either black iron or galvanized pipe
  • Pipe should be painted
  • Valve needs to be bracketed to the structure
  • Follow local codes

Earthquake seismic gas shut off valves come in three different configurations to aid in installation. Horizontal, vertical top inlet and vertical bottom inlet.

An earthquake actuated gas shut off valve can be used not only for natural gas but for propane also.

The gas utility owns the line to your home from the street to the meter and up to the test tee just past the meter.

Since home owners own from the pressure test tee or port forward where the earthquake valve would go, utilities normally would not install these devices.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that the pressure of the gas from the meter into the house is less than one pound. In fact it’s closer to .25 psi which is very easy to work with.

Another way to say it would be about 4 ounces of pressure per square inch. You and I can blow through a straw at about 1.3 psi.

As residential homes get larger and add more gas appliances including heated shops and out building then it may be possible that a 2 lb regulator would be at your location.

It should be distinctly marked with a 2 lb tag.

So if understanding gas pressure helps lower your anxiety about a really nice DIY project then give it some serious consideration.

How Much Does It Cost To Install An Earthquake Gas Shut Off Valve?

Your earthquake gas shut off valve installation cost will vary between the various manufacturers. Just as the prices will be different from the contractors you may call for quotes.

You can find earthquake valves online for anywhere from approximately $100 on up to $200 in the 3/4 inch size. I’d suggest you look at Amazon to get some price comparisons as prices change and new products hit the market.

Even if you are considering a DIY project, their is no harm done in getting two or three quotes with lots of questions to help you decide to get it done by others or do it yourself.

Amazon has some earthquake valve choices if you just want to compare what your contractor may tell you with what you may be able to do this project for.

It’s important to size the valve correctly. It should be the size of the pipe feeding the house all the way back to the meter.

Be sure to go by the size of the pipe as it enters the house. Any reduced sizes from the house to the meter should be redone to match that pipe into the house.

I did some research on the internet and as usual I was quite confused by companies that quoted prices. Finding a good plumber or HVAC contractor can be an experiment in frustration.

And the companies found online were not local to me so what difference would there price make to me. Getting more than a couple of bids can lead to a lot of confusion in the trades.


A gas safety shutoff valve is amongst the simplest of devices. A steel ball is the only moving part other than what mechanics are used to reset the valve. It’s not often we have such an important safety device at such an affordable price.

An earthquake valve differs from an excess-flow valve. Excess-flow valves are meant to protect your appliances in case of a surge in gas pressure.

If it’s not your intention to have an earthquake valve installed the next best step is to have a wrench that fits the shut off at your gas meter. Keep it near the meter and slightly hidden away as not to entice anyone to walk away with it or use it to menacingly shut off your gas.

Having one of these wrenches neat the meter will give you a leg up in case of an emergency and you need to get the gas shut off quick

They make wrenches specifically for these valves and they are available on Amazon. It just take a quarter turn and it can be pretty obvious if you go have a look at yours.

Chad Peterson

Chad Peterson is a veteran of the HVAC industry since 1977. "I like to explain heating and air conditioning problems in a way the average home owner can understand. "

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