What is an Earthquake Shut-Off Valve and Why Is It Important?

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, it is a must to install earthquake shut-off valves. It is even a requirement in such areas when issuing building permits. Earthquake shut-off valves could save lives. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of this life-saving tool and why they should install one in their homes. 

Is your home earthquake-proof? Ensure you and your family are safe from potential dangers, including earthquakes, by installing an earthquake shut-off valve. A professional plumber knows what this is for, and make sure to call one to install it and help you with your plumbing needs

What is an earthquake shut-off valve? 

Earthquakes can be scary, and history tells us some of the worst ones that killed tens of thousands of people. Some tremors you might not feel, while some can be too strong, can destroy buildings and concrete roads. For example, California is an earthquake-prone area because it lies on one of the most dangerous fault lines in the world.

So imagine if you are living in an earthquake-prone area, not knowing when the next destructive earthquake will occur. This is when an earthquake shut-off valve enters the picture. These are specialized valves attached to a structure’s gas meter and shut off automatically when an emergency happens, such as an earthquake. 

An earthquake shut-off valve has two types: seismic natural gas and excess-flow valves. The former is triggered and shuts off automatically when it detects earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.1 and above. On the other hand, the latter is activated when it senses an overpressure surge or a gas leak in your gas line. 

It seems complicated, but it has a simple function, depending on the type, and is easy to install. The seismic gas shut-off valve reacts when the pipe starts to shake due to a strong earthquake. A metal ball dislodges from the suspension ring and blocks the gas line, and prevents gas from reaching your house. 

Meanwhile, the excess-flow valve finds overpressure or leaks in your gas line. When it does, it will clamp down the valve to prevent gas and pressure from building up further. 

Which valve type is better?

So, which type of valve is better? It depends on the purpose as each has different mechanisms and pros and cons for each valve type. Seismic shut-off valves are effective in preventing gas leaks due to earthquakes. However, it cannot detect the cause of the leaks.

On the other hand, excess-flow valves cannot find small leaks and could cause gas to flow faster than usual. Professional plumbers recommend installing both valve types. 

Why earthquake shut-off valves are important 

Earthquakes can be destructive and even cost lives. It can also break water and gas pipes that could endanger properties and people’s lives. In 1906, the Great San Francisco Earthquake caused fires and damaged 90% percent of the city due to leaking gas lines. 

Homeowners should install earthquake shut-off valves to protect their property and loved ones in earthquake-prone areas. It will also give you peace of mind and ensure your safety if the inevitable happens. A professional plumber in Mt Pleasant, TN, will help you install this tool. Contact one today!


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