Home & Garden Columns

Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday March 16, 2007

Too Many Valves? 


Since Contra Costa County passed the ordinance requiring the installation of automatic shut-off valves in homes being sold (in unincorporated areas), I have heard from a good number of Realtors and homeowners who are complaining that the County went overboard.  

The controversy? The County requires a valve at the outside meter, either of the seismic, or “shaking” variety, or the “excess flow” type valve. Either one will do a fine job of turning off the gas to a home during a serious quake—although they act in different ways. This makes sense to everyone. The County, however, also requires excess flow valves on every gas appliance inside the home (fireplaces excepted). This is redundancy and will cost homeowners much more than just having an outside valve put in.  

Companies like us stand to make more money from this—but we can’t help but wonder: is this over-kill? How is this relevant in Berkeley? I predict that Contra Costa County is just the first governmental entity in the Bay Area to do this: more will follow. Hopefully, the Berkeley City Council will enact a similar ordinance, but without the redundancy of valves.  



Larry Guillot is owner of QuakePrepare, an earthquake consulting, securing, and kit supply service. Call him at 558-3299, or visit www.quakeprepare.com.