Home & Garden Columns

Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday May 25, 2007

Bad Advice From PG&E? 


It’s no secret: PG&E doesn’t like automatic gas shut-off valves. I’m sure they don’t want your house to go up in flames, but many PG&E employees are advising people not to have valves installed because they claim the values activate at the slightest shake (they even say a garbage truck going down the street will set them off). This is not true! 

Many years ago, the first automatic gas shut-off valves were calibrated too low, and would activate at around a 3.6 quake. So PG&E had a lot of nuisance calls from folks wanting their pilots re-lit after mild quakes.  

The people at PG&E are not stupid—they undoubtedly know that the current valves are set to activate at around 5.2, which is very serious shaking. We invite them to do the right thing and start encouraging people to make their homes safer with automatic gas shut-off valves. 

Wishing you a safe home and peace of mind. 



Larry Guillot is the owner of QuakePrepare, an earthquake consulting, securing, and gas shut-off valve installation service. Contact him at 510-558-3299 or visit QuakePrepare.com to receive semi-monthly quake safety reports. Quake Tip appears weekly in Home & Garden.