For Release: 12/13/2010
Rosemount, MN - Recent heavy snows in some parts of our region have nearly buried natural gas meters and could have caused drifts that cover furnace vents. Customers with new 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, according to Minnesota Energy Resources (MERC). The newer equipment provides great savings in terms of efficiency but 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 Resources reminds customers to check the outside vents to make sure they aren't covered with snow or ice.
Deep snow covering natural gas meters could cause the meter regulator to freeze up, disrupting the flow of gas into the home. "It's best to clear the snow away from gas meters," said Ann Carlon, Senior External Affairs Manager for Minnesota Energy.
Wherever possible, Minnesota Energy also asks that customers keep the area around their gas meters clear of snow so that the meter readers have access to them. A clear path also shows the meter readers what route you want them to take when they're on your property. Of course, Minnesota Energy does not expect customers to clear such a path if doing so is physically difficult or could aggravate medical problems.
Carlon added that conditions may result in the formation of large icicles as snow on rooftops melts due to the radiant heat of the sun and below freezing temperatures. "Icicles that form above natural gas meters could break and fall onto the meters causing damage," she said. Damaged meters could malfunction and cause service interruptions to homes. "It makes sense to clear the area above meters, if you can do it safely."