What is an Earthquake Shut-off Valve?

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Phil Puccio

Since 2000, all new buildings in California have been required to install seismic isolation valves. Local law enforcement agencies enforce them when issuing building permits. Despite the fact that earthquake shut-off valves could save your life, but many Californians don’t know what they are or haven’t installed them in their older homes.

Is your home protected in the event of a major earthquake? Every building that is connected to gas in California should have a seismic shut-off valve. This means that every Californian should understand how a seismic gas shut-off valve works. Here are the important things to know including updating your home and preparing for when an earthquake shakes your gas line.

Why Does California Have So Many Earthquakes?

The history of earthquakes in California is full of harrowing stories. Fortunately, large destructive earthquakes are rare. Southern California experiences a few every year 10,000 earthquakes. You won’t even feel most of them. A few hundred have a magnitude of 3.0 or greater and 15-20 are greater than 4.0.

California is prone to regular earthquakes because it sits on the San Andreas Fault. This is a tectonic boundary and pressure point where the Pacific Plate is pushing against the North American Plate. While the San Andreas Fault is the largest and most dangerous fault, the pressure it exerts on the surrounding geography creates hundreds of other, smaller, and regularly shifting faults.

These plates are moving about 2 inches/year – not a great distance – but consider that in another 15 million years Los Angeles and San Francisco will be neighbors!

What is an earthquake stop valve?

Seismic shut-off valves are special valves that connect to your building’s gas meter. In the event of an emergency, these valves will automatically close and shut off the flow of gas into your line. There are two common variants of seismic isolation valves:

  1. Seismic Natural Gas Shutoff Valve: These valves trigger when they detect an earthquake of magnitude 5.1 or greater.
  2. overflow valve: These valves trigger when they detect a gas leak or over-pressure surge anywhere in your gas line.

Why are seismic isolation valves important?

How do seismic shut-off valves work?

They are surprisingly easy! The valve is installed on your gas meter where the meter connects to your home’s gas lines. The two types of shutoff valves discussed here are designed to react to different things, so they both work differently.

The seismic gas shut-off valve responds to shocks. A metal ball is installed in your gas line, just above the main line that takes the gas into your home. When the pipe begins to tremble at a magnitude of 5.1 or greater, this metal ball detaches from a suspension ring and blocks the gas line. Blocking the metal ball prevents gas from traveling further down the line and into your home.

The spill valve is a more conventional valve than the seismic gas shut-off valve. The key difference is that the relief valve is designed to check for leaks or high pressure in your gas line, not seismic activity. This valve contains an excess flow sensor. This sensor fits into the internal mechanism of the valve itself. When it detects that the natural gas passing it is flowing too quickly, either due to excess pressure or a leak, it tells the valve to close. This will prevent any further pressure build up or more gas escaping through the leak.

Which valve works best?

These two valves are separate mechanisms and each requires separate installation. Both have clear advantages and disadvantages:

  • The seismic shut-off valve is very good at preventing gas from leaking through earthquake-related leaks, but it cannot detect how those leaks originated.
  • The spill valve responds to more than seismic shutoff, but it responds best to large problems. The excess flow may not always find small leaks that just cause the gas to flow a little faster than usual.

Each valve can be installed on your natural gas line without the other, but for maximum safety Mike Diamond recommends you get it both Furnished.

Why Are Seismic Shutoff Valves Important?

Strong earthquakes can rupture gas lines immediately, causing extreme damage dangerous gas leaks. gas leaks are particularly dangerous internal structures, where the gas becomes trapped and accumulates. Trapped gas is highly flammable and toxic. In addition to triggering the gas leak itself, earthquakes often create situations where gas can easily ignite. When earthquakes start a fire and that fire comes into contact with gas in your home, it can cause an explosion.

The worst damage is often caused by gas leaks after earthquakes. During the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Fires caused 90% of the damage in the city. Burst gas lines sparked 30 fires that destroyed 490 city blocks.

Seismic valves protect your home from earthquake-related gas leaks and the fires they cause. If an earthquake hits your area, you may not have the time or presence of mind to take care of your home’s gas line. A safety valve gives you the peace of mind to focus on your family’s well-being without distractions. After an earthquake, simply reset the valve after checking that your gas lines are not damaged. If the lines have been damaged, the valve will keep gas out of your home until they are repaired.

This is how we install earthquake stop valves.

Seismic valves are unobtrusive and can be easily integrated into your existing installation. First, we temporarily shut off the gas supply to your home. This is necessary because we are opening the supply lines to connect the valve to them. Next, we’ll disconnect your home’s utility lines from the gas meter. Depending on how your system works, we can rotate or remove pipe segments. This frees up space for the shut-off valve to fit between your supply lines and your meter.

After making room, we attach the valve directly to the “end” of your utility box. The valve chamber itself looks either like a small box or like a cylinder. It is usually a different color to make it easier to distinguish from the rest of the whistle. Finally we attach the valve to the house pipes themselves. Once the valve is fully attached we test it to make sure it works. We also show you how to reset it.

Get your seismic isolation valve installed today

Seismic isolation valves are quick and easy to install. Call Mike Diamond for a certified technician Install your seismic isolation valve according to the regulations of the California Public Utilities Commission.

Our technicians will check over 22 areas in your home to ensure your gas line is safe. Start planning today so your home is prepared in the event of an earthquake in the Los Angeles area.

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Original Source: https://mikediamondservices.com/blog/earthquake-shut-off-valve-faq/
Category – Plumbing

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