Tag: gas turn-off valve

Turn Off The Gas!


 “OMG, I smell gas, don’t you?”

“Must be the result of that earthquake we just felt!  Do we need to turn off the gas?” 

O.K., this is you.

You have determined that yes, there is a real gas leak in a home in your neighborhood. You smell that rotten-egg smell, you hear gas escaping, you even see where the line has broken. You are concerned that gas is accumulating to the point there could be an explosion.

You have moved people a safe distance away and called 911 and/or your system operator, so help is on the way. But that “earth tremor” may have been widely felt and official help may be delayed.


So you need to turn off the gas. Now what?

If the break is in a line on the home side of the meter, turn off the gas at the meter.

1. Find the meter! If it’s dark, use flashlights, NOT lanterns, matches or candles.  An open flame may set off an explosion if gas has accumulated!

Gas meter turn-off

Where’s the turn-off?

2. In this setup, the turn-off valve is in the lower left corner, 6-8 inches above the ground on the standpipe. When you look at it straight on, you can tell the turn-off valve by its distinctive shape: a circular face with a rectangular section sticking out.

3 . Now, how to turn it off? Fingers just won’t work. Search for the gas meter wrench.  Below is a photo of my wrench. Note the rectangular cut-outs.  One cut-out should fit over the rectangular section on the pipe.  (You can also use a 12 inch crescent wrench.) I store my wrench near — but not directly on — the meter.  (According to one of my experts, “Metal attached to, or hanging on, the meter can disrupt the cathodic protection system that helps to prevent underground gas pipes from corroding.”)


Gas wrench has two options.

4. Fit the wrench onto the valve. Turn one-quarter turn. (You may actually need to step on the wrench to get enough leverage to get the thing to turn.)

Open or closed?

Open or closed?

5. Confirm that the valve is closed — see the right-hand diagram above.

Should I practice opening and closing the valve?  NO, NO, NO!

DON’T TURN OFF THE GAS unless it’s a real emergency. Why? Because you can’t turn it on again!

“Only gas company field employees are allowed to turn on the gas to the meter.” It’s not just a question of the gas in the line. The gas company will have to go through the house to relight all the pilot lights!

We had a gas main leak in the street outside our community last year.  All the gas to the neighborhood was turned off — 360 homes.  It took the gas company a full day and a half, with a DOZEN EMPLOYEES (all being paid overtime), to get everything turned back on!

Again, you should not practice turning off your gas. You should discourage people from THINKING they should turn off their gas at the least suggestion of a leak.

Remember, step one is to get away from the leak without creating a spark. Step two is to call 911 and the system operator.

But, in a big emergency, you should know how to turn the gas off if there’s a leak.

Share this information with family.

Share it with neighbors, since a gas leak next door could impact you.

Invite your local First Responders and/or your system operator to speak to your group on this topic.

Here’s to safety!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team