If you live in an earthquake-prone region, regularly checking your gas pipes and fixtures—which are often the most vulnerable parts of a home—in the apartment or house is an important step to ensuring your future safety. Here are some preventative plumbing tips that will help you avoid proliferating disasters caused by gas leakages after an earthquake, visit ready.gov for many more tips:
*The first concern for most people is related to natural gas leaks. Natural gas can lead to deadly fire hazards, as well as asphyxiation. In order to ensure your safety from such gas leaks after an earthquake, make sure that your gas appliances and pipes have flexible connectors and have been “quake proofed”; call your local plumber so he or she can double check this.
If your gas pipes do not have flexible connectors, have a plumbing company install them. After an earthquake hits, one way to check for leaks in your home is to walk around the house to check for smells; although not overpowering, natural gas does have a scent (it smells like rotten eggs). Be sure to check your basement (if you have one), as in most homes, gas lines start from the basement. *If you do use gas pipes, check in with your gas company and learn how to shut off the earthquake shut off valve. The most common valve used today incorporates a large ball that sits on top of a post. When the ground shakes, the ball is knocked off the post and into the pipe below it, which then blocks the gas flow.
You can replace older gas and water valves with special “leak cut-off” valves, which detect broken pipes using changes in pressure. More sophisticated pipes and valves are also seismically sensitive and can be activated to shut off when it detects the ground shaking. To summarize, your best defense in preparing your house’s plumbing for earthquakes is to have a dependable plumber check your gas and water pipes in order to make sure that fixtures and connectors are not loose and are “quake proofed.”
If you live in an earthquake-prone area, it will be a smart investment to replace old gas and water pipes with new pipes that automatically shut off when the pressure changes and/or with unexpected seismic movements.