How To: Locate the Gas Shut-Off Valve
Don’t be left searching the deepest recesses of your home during a gas emergency.
If you have a natural gas line running into your home, you need to know where your gas shut-off valves are. A gas leak or a damaged gas line is an emergency situation that requires immediate action. Before an emergency happens, make sure you know where in your home the gas shut-off valves are and how to operate them.
Your home will have both main gas shut-off valves and individual shut-off valves for the furnace, stove, dryer, and other gas appliances. It’s usually only in emergency situations that you would need to shut off the main gas line to your home, such as when you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a break in the gas line, or suspect a gas leak. In these situations, the first thing you should do is call your gas company. Gas appliances, on the other hand, eventually break down or need to be moved or replaced, so you’ll need to be familiar with how to use the individual shut-off valves for your appliances as well.
Locate and turn off your home’s main gas supply.
STEP 1: Locate the valve.
Depending on where you live and the age of your house, the location of the two main gas valves can vary. The average home will have two shut-off valves for the entire house: the house-side valve, which is owned and intended for use by the homeowner, and the house-side valve, which is owned by the utility company and is not intended for homeowner use. The house-side main shut-off valve can be identified by the black iron pipe running into the home to the valve. The street-side main shut-off valve, which should be used only if the house-side valve is inoperable, is found right before your gas meter.
- To find the house-side main gas shut-off valve, locate the area of the house where the gas line first enters and follow it to the first valve you encounter. This valve could be located immediately after the line enters the house, or further down the line, but will always be before a tee in the pipe or appliance connection. The lever operating this valve will sit in line with the pipe when the gas is on and will sit perpendicular to the pipe in the closed position.
- To find the street-side main gas shutoff, locate your gas meter, usually found on the outside of the house, or tucked away in the basement directly after the gas line enters the building. If your meter is in the basement, it will very often face a window so that the meter can be read from the outside. Located on the inlet side of the gas meter is the rectangular, metal street-side valve, which needs to be operated using an adjustable wrench.
STEP 2: Turn off the gas.
First of all, be sure that it is actually necessary to turn off the main gas supply before doing so. Turning the gas back on will likely require a visit from the gas company, so it should be done only in emergencies. To turn off the gas to your home using the house-side shut-off valve, move the lever so that it is at a right angle to the pipe. This should shut off the gas flow to your home, but it will take a short period of time for the remaining gas in the line to dissipate. Wait a few moments before verifying that the gas is off.
If you do not have a house-side valve, or if your house-side valve is not working, you can operate the street-side valve using a 12-inch or larger adjustable wrench. Turn the valve a quarter turn in either direction so that the valve sits crosswise, or perpendicular, to the pipe.
STEP 3: Verify the gas is off.
The first way to verify that your gas is off is to check the gas valve and confirm that it is in a perpendicular position to the gas line. If you suspect that you have a faulty valve, listen for gas flow through the pipes and check any currently lit pilot lights in any older appliances to determine if they are still lit. Newer appliances don’t have pilot lights, so if you can’t confirm that the gas is off this way, it is better to err on the side of caution and call your gas company to have them come out to inspect your gas line. They will be able to confirm if the gas is off and if there are any issues with your system.
STEP 4: Don’t turn the gas back on.
Any time that you shut off the main valve for your gas system, expect to be without gas for at least one to two hours. Don’t attempt to turn the main supply back on—call your gas company instead. They will be able to properly operate the valve and ensure that your system is safe by checking for leaks and verifying that any gas appliances with pilot lights are safely re-lit.
Keep in mind that you should turn off your home’s main gas supply only if you suspect an emergency. For isolated issues with home appliances, always use the individual appliance gas valve instead.
Locate the gas supply to specific fixtures.
When an appliance needs to be replaced or repaired, you’ll need to shut off the gas to that appliance. It’s also a good idea to shut off the gas to your appliances during a natural disaster.
Each gas appliance should have a gas line running to it that will have a valve located just before the appliance. This valve will likely resemble the valves on your gas main and can be operated by turning the valve to sit either in line with the pipe when the gas is on, or perpendicular to the pipe when the gas is off.
- Gas stove: This valve is often located at the back of the oven and can be accessed by pulling out the bottom drawer of the stove or carefully pulling out the entire stove from the wall.
- Gas furnace: The valve for the furnace or boiler is likely located directly beside the appliance and is frequently in an easy-to-reach location on the gas line.
- Gas water heater: For a gas water heater, the valve is most often found at the bottom of the water heater, where the inlet line runs to the appliance.
- Gas fireplace: The shut-off for a gas fireplace is typically on the control panel. This control panel can be found behind the front screen, where a knob that controls the flow of gas can be turned to ‘off’.
- Gas dryer: The shut-off valve for a gas dryer is found behind the appliance, in a similar location as the gas stove. Some dryers have a bottom drawer that can be used to access the gas valve. If yours doesn’t, you can access the shut-off valve by carefully pulling the dryer out from the wall.
Older appliances may have a pilot light that will need to be re-lit when the gas is turned back on. Follow manufacturer guidelines, which are usually located on the appliance or on the manufacturer website. For help with re-lighting pilot lights, contact a professional.