For Release: 02/21/2011
Deep Snow or Ice Build-Up Can be a Hazard to Natural Gas Meters and Sidewall-Vented Furnaces and Appliances
Falling icicles could damage electric or natural gas meters, as well
Rosemount, MN - Minnesota Energy Resources is advising its customers to carefully clear the area around their natural gas meters and regulators to help ensure their proper and continuous operation. Simply brushing deep snow away from the meter and regulator with a broom is sufficient. Shovels or other heavy items could damage meters and regulators.
Deep snow or ice build-up by the meter and regulator could affect their operation, potentially causing such equipment to malfunction. In addition, additional stress to the meter, regulator, and piping from the weight of snow and ice could also cause a malfunction.
With the recent warmer weather, the formation of icicles on roofs due to warm daytime temperatures and below freezing nighttime temperatures is possible. If broken off, larger icicles formed above electric or natural gas meters and regulators could damage the meters, regulators and piping. Minnesota Energy asks that customers clear the area above the meters and regulators before large icicles can form.
Another potential danger is clearing roofs of snow by using a metal snow rake. Caution must be used to ensure contact is not made with above ground electric lines. Contact could be fatal. In addition, care should be made not to rake heavy snow onto electric or natural gas meters and regulators that might damage them.
Minnesota Energy advises customers with newer high-efficiency furnaces and other natural gas appliances that vent through the wall (not into a chimney) to keep the vents free of snow or ice buildup. A blocked vent could cause the heating system to malfunction by shutting off or, in extreme cases, lead to the accumulation of carbon monoxide in the home. Minnesota Energy customers with service contracts should call the company if natural gas appliances are not functioning properly. Other customers should call their heating/appliance dealer.
Natural Gas Safety
There are three things to remember-sight, smell and sound-that may indicate the presence of natural gas:
- Look: Near a gas leak outside, you may notice blowing dirt, bubbling water and dry spots in moist areas or dead grass plants surrounded by green, live plants.
- Listen: An unusual hissing sound near gas lines or appliances may indicate a gas leak.
- Smell: In its raw state, natural gas is odorless. Gas utility companies add a harmless substance called mercaptan to create a rotten-egg-like smell. You should take action even if the odor is faint.
What To Do If You Suspect A Gas Leak
- If in a building, exit the building immediately. Do not use telephones (even cellular), flashlights, light switches or other items that can produce a spark.
- If outside, immediately leave the area.
- If working outside, turn off any equipment being used, if possible, and move upwind from the suspected leak.
- From a safe location away from the suspected leak, call the Utility’s natural gas emergency number or 911 immediately. Do Not assume someone else will report the condition. Provide exact address or location, including any cross streets, if possible.
- In the event of fire or explosion, call 911.
- Avoid flames and operating electrical appliances and/or equipment. Do not smoke or light matches.
- Do not attempt to correct problem.
About Minnesota Energy Resources
Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, is a natural gas utility headquartered in Rosemount, MN, serving approximately 210,000 customers throughout Minnesota. For more information on Minnesota Energy Resources, visit www.minnesotaenergyresources.com.
For More Information, Contact:
- Ann Carlon
Senior External Affairs Manager
- Media Hotline 800-977-2250