Enbridge Gas & TSSA Caution Homeowners To Keep Gas Meters & Fuel-Burning Appliance Vents Free From Snow & Ice

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Photo Credit: Toronto Fire

With inclement winter weather conditions looming across the province this week, Enbridge Gas and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) strongly advise Ontario homeowners to check their gas meters and the external exhaust outlets for furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters and all fuel-burning devices as soon as possible to ensure no snow or ice has built up. A forecast of rain for tomorrow makes this important safety task time sensitive, as rain has the potential to cause further freezing of accumulated precipitation buildup on gas meters and venting pipes.

“Clearing snow and ice away from the gas meter and exhaust outlets for your natural gas burning equipment helps ensure that both the meter and your appliances function safely,” said Jim Sanders, Senior Vice President of Operations for Enbridge Gas. “It also allows us to access the meter in the case of an emergency.”

A gas meter covered in snow or ice can impede its function of controlling the pressure of the gas supplied to a home, which could lead to serious risks. In addition, blocked external exhaust vents can cause the carbon monoxide (CO) emitted by fuel-burning appliances to build up in a home, which is also a significant safety hazard.

“Exhaust vents, in particular, often extend out of the side of a home as low as one foot above ground, so they have the potential to get covered and blocked fairly easily without an occupants knowledge, especially when shoveling snow or using a snowblower or when there is a severe snow fall, like the storm we encountered earlier this week,” said Sam Sadeghi, Director, Fuels Safety, Technical Standards and Safety Authority. “We have seen CO poisoning incidents from snow-blocked vents in the past, and these incidents can be fatal, so it’s essential that homeowners are vigilant about keeping their exhaust vents clear.”

Upon noticing a gas meter or external appliance vent pipe is covered with snow, please remove the snow carefully with a car brush or broom. Do not scrape the meter or vent pipe with a sharp instrument, as this may cause unintended damage.

Enbridge Gas reminds Ontarians of these additional safety precautions:

  • Do not shovel, plow or blow snow up against the meter or vent pipe.
  • Be careful not to bump your meter with a snow blower.
  • Never kick your gas meter or vent pipes in an attempt to clear ice and snow.
  • Remove any icicles from overhead eaves troughs to ensure dripping water does not splash and freeze on the meter or vent pipe.

Visit the Enbridge Gas website for more information on keeping gas meters clear.

“We also encourage homeowners to install and test certified CO alarms, which will warn them of rising CO levels in their homes and give them and their families time to take potentially life-saving action,” said Sadeghi. “It is also important for homeowners to be able to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning, which can occur once a fuel-burning appliance exhaust vent has been blocked.”

To report a meter icing problem or for any other natural gas emergency, call 1-866-763-5427.

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