Xcel Energy officials say keep gas meters clear of ice and snow
Officials with Xcel Energy are strongly recommending that their customers take some time to keep their gas meters clear of ice and snow.
The officials say that keeping the meters clear will help prevent the potential of dangerous natural gas pressure buildup in their homes.
With the recent winter storms, ice and snow on roofs and in trees can melt and drip on meters, then refreeze, increasing the potential of equipment malfunction leading to dangerous natural gas pressure buildup in the home.
The company also recommends that appliance vents, often located on a home's roof, be kept clear in order to operate properly.
The natural gas meter's regulator vent is especially vulnerable to plugging any time there is a combination of snow and ice buildup and fluctuating temperatures.
A clogged vent can adversely affect the operation of the gas pressure regulator, resulting in a potentially hazardous condition by preventing the flow of natural gas.
Xcel Energy recommends that customers very gently remove snow or ice from the gas meter and any associated piping. Also check to ensure that melting snow or ice is not dripping on the meter from the roof or nearby trees.
It is also recommended that customers maintain a clean meter and a path to and from the device. Carefully shovel around the meter and clear the meter itself by hand. Avoid using a snow blower near the meter and piping.
Company officials also encourage annual inspections of natural gas appliances and venting systems as a key defense against carbon monoxide poisoning.
They say that with heavy snowfall, it's possible that your home's venting systems, such as an outdoor air intake vent to a fuel-burning appliance, can become packed with snow or ice.
Carbon monoxide can develop if venting systems or appliances are not operating properly.
According to Xcel officials, inspections are extremely important because they can determine and correct the source of a problem if one exists.
The company also encourages the use of carbon monoxide detectors on each floor with sleeping rooms. Xcel Energy reminds natural gas customers that if they smell natural gas in their homes to leave the house immediately and to follow these other important safety precautions:
* Don't turn lights on or off or use any other electrical switches, including garage door openers, under any circumstances.
* Don't open any windows or doors other than the ones you pass through on your way out.
* Don't use a cell phone or any other phone while still in the house; go to a neighbor's house or other safe place away from your home to call Xcel Energy's gas emergency number: 1-800-895-2999 -- for help, or 9-1-1 in an emergency.
* Don't return to the home until a safety expert such as a utility company employee or firefighter says it's safe to do so.