News Releases

North Shore Gas

For Release: 03/05/2013

Deep Snow or Ice Build-Up Can be a Hazard to Natural Gas Meters and Sidewall-Vented Furnaces and Appliances

Falling icicles could damage natural gas or electric meters, as well

Waukegan, IL – With the Chicagoland area predicted to be hit with its biggest snowstorm this season with accumulations of six to 10 inches expected in some areas, North Shore Gas 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.

Residents are warned not to clear roofs of snow by using a metal snow rake or other heavy items. Caution must be used not to rake heavy snow onto natural gas or electric meters that might damage them and also ensure contact is not made with above ground electric lines. Contact could be fatal.

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. Snow and ice buildup around gas meters, in particular, could lead to meter damage and a disruption in energy service. In particular, homes and businesses have snow plowed from driveways, parking lots or access roads, should take care that plow operators do not push wet, heavy snow into gas or electric meters. The meters could become damaged causing service interruptions or, potentially, a natural gas leak.

Customers with high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters that vent through the wall (not into a chimney) should be wary of a buildup of snow or ice around the vent. High-efficiency equipment provides great savings, but a blocked vent could cause the heating system to malfunction by shutting off or, in extreme cases, leading to an accumulation of carbon monoxide in the home. Customers should check the outside vents just to make sure they aren’t covered with snow or ice. Heavy snow and high winds could provide conditions that will result in blocked vents.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, tasteless, odorless, undetectable poisonous gas that cannot be detected by human senses. Dubbed the "silent killer," carbon monoxide claims more than 2,000 lives each year and sends more than 40,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. alone. At high concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. CO results when there is an improper and/or inefficient burning of natural gas. Customers who experience flu-like symptoms only when at home should arrange for a carbon monoxide check from their local emergency agency immediately. Illinois law requires every home or apartment to have a CO alarm within 15 feet of sleeping areas.

As warmer temperatures are expected later this week, residents should also be on the lookout for the possibility of melting snow and the formation of icicles on roofs due to warm daytime temperatures and below freezing nighttime temperatures. If broken off, larger icicles formed above electric or natural gas meters and regulators could damage the meters, regulators, and piping. The melting snow dripping onto the meter regulator set can often encase the regulator in ice causing it to malfunction.

For more tips on safety around natural gas, including tips on CO safety, please visit our website at

For More Information, Contact:

  • Bonnie Johnson (Media)
    Manager, Public Relations
    (312) 240-4567
    (312) 907-7333 (CELL)