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Gas Utility Service
Gas Utility Service photos: P 104-P 107
If the house is connected to the gas utility lines in the street, check the condition of the gas meter and gas lines. If the house isn't connected to any gas service lines, recommend to the client that they check with the local utility company. They'll need to find out what the costs are to hook up or if it's even possible to get gas service in the house. Some areas don't have natural gas service and the client might not know this. Don't just assume your client is aware of the lack of gas service lines in the street. You don't want him to be confronted with any surprises after he moves into the house.
The gas meter is usually located in the lower level or just outside the house next to the foundation. If the meter is inside the house, a remote reading device should be installed. This will allow the utility company to take the meter reading when no one is at home. Make sure there's a main shutoff valve near the gas meter for safety. This will enable the gas service to be turned off for repairs or an emergency. Next to the gas meter you find a gas regulator. This looks like a small, round saucer and is installed before the meter on the high pressure gas lines. A gas regulator has a similar operation to a water pressure reducing valve. Gas from the main lines in the street may have a high pressure rating. The gas regulator parts by the meter lowers the street gas pressure before it enters the house. Gas pressure entering the house should be lowered to about 4-5 inches per water column.
All gas service lines should be approved black iron gas piping. Often you'll find copper or flexible gas pipe connectors being used to supply appliances. There should not be any copper or flexible metals used for gas feed lines. If there are, then recommend they have a licensed plumber make any necessary repairs to bring the gas lines up to the building codes. Some areas do allow copper and flexible pipe to be used to hook up appliances. However, even if the local building codes allow this, it's not as safe as using black iron pipe.
If you smell or detect any gas leaks IMMEDIATELY tell the client, all third parties and the homeowner to contact the local utility company to make repairs. Leaking gas will explode!!!
If the gas lines are rusty, recommend that they be painted. You might want to purchase a hand held combustible gas detector to check the visible gas lines and the meter for any gas leaks. If you smell or detect any gas leaks IMMEDIATELY ell the client, all third parties and the homeowner to contact the local utility company to make repairs. Leaking gas will explode!!! So don't take any chances. It's common to find minor gas leaks at some of the pipe joints. Gas pipe joints can come loose over time and need to be tightened and caulked periodically. Don't panic if you find a gas leak. Just call the utility company and they should send someone over immediately to make repairs. Also, if there is a strong gas odor in the house, don't use the telephones or turn on any light switches or electric appliances. Using any electrical items can create a spark and cause a serious buildup of gas to explode!
I'm not trying to scare you away from houses with gas service. The gas utility company in my area says there are a minimal number of cases of house explosions due to gas leaks. Natural gas is colorless and odorless when it comes from the earth. The gas utility companies put the odor into the gas before it reaches your house. The reason they put the odor in the gas is so that it's easier to detect a gas leak. If you couldn't see or smell a gas leak, then you wouldn't be aware of a problem until after an explosion occurred. The gas utility company in my areas feels that any serious gas leaks will create an easily detected odor in the house. This should allow the occupants to safely leave the home prior to an explosion.