Safety Alert!!! Frozen Gas Meters

This week I was reminded of how dangerous this time of year can be in the northern states. With snow and ice thaw and then re-freeze, gas meters become a very BIG safety concern.

Who looks at their gas meter?

The answer is nobody…unless there’s a problem. Every year MN home inspectors come across frozen or snow blocked gas meters. Frankly, unless this condition is corrected a seasoned home inspector wouldn’t enter a home until this condition is fixed. It’s simply too dangerous!

In Minneapolis, St. Paul, and most all communities, there are two locations for natural gas meters. The older meters are located inside the house and obviously do not present themselves as a winter concern. Not so fast, if these interior meters have a regulator, this must be vented to the outside of the home.

A regulator on a gas meters indicates the local utility is supplying the house with high pressure gas. Are you beginning to get the picture? Is the house speaking to you? High pressure gas needs to be vented to the outside of the building. If the vent pipe is blocked by a pile of snow, oh my, this could be a MEGA problem.

Modern meters are installed on the outside of the home. There are good and bad locations for these meters. For example they shouldn’t be under the drip line of a roof or in areas that accumulate piles of snow. In these situations the meter regulators could become buried or frozen. When blocked, there is a good chance that gas fumes could build up and an explosion could occur.

So go outside today and check out your meter or the vent opening and verify the snow and ice has not blocked it.

Be safe…

Doug Hastings

MN Home Inspector
Minneapolis & St. Paul

Kaplan University
Home Inspection Lead Instructor

Moisture Problems – Sumps to Big Bumps (Part 13)

Basements and crawl spaces with sump baskets may or may not be drain tiled. And drain tiles can be located on either the interior or the exterior of the foundation footing. Contractors will give varying opinions on which method is best, but it really doesn’t matter. In real swampy locations, ‘cautious’ contractors will install drainage tiles on both sides of the foundation. Home inspectors in Minneapolis and St. Paul pay very close attention to the existence and quality of installation of these sumps in order to protect their clients from future water damage and mold problems.

Steep Hill Requirements


Next, what about big hills? Historically, home buyers and Realtors have been very skittish about homes that back up to large hills. The obvious concern is the large volume of water running directly towards the house. Frankly, many people walk away from purchasing a perfectly good home just because of this topography. Steep hills in building code terms are those that have a 45 degree slope or greater. The question is should we be apprehensive about this. The answer is no…just as long as the correct detail to earth slope, drainage swales, and possibly retaining walls are observed.

So, if we obey the principles of controlling surface and subsurface water, we should be able to buy or sell a home, with confidence, in almost any location and keep the water out of the basement. As a MN home inspector for the past 25 years, it’s amazing to me that so many homeowners don’t do this. They sure would sleep better on those dark rainy nights if they did.

Did you know small moisture intrusion problems in basements are a much greater mold concern than a major flood…WHY?

Doug Hastings
Home Inspector Minnesota
Kaplan Instructor