What is a gas regulator and relief valve?
That “dish” looking thing on your gas meter is a regulator. Its job is to control the pressure of the flammable natural or propane gas as it enters your home. High pressure is needed to distribute gas to all the homes in your neighborhood or city. But this pressure is too high for your appliances to use safely. The regulator on your gas meter has the job of bringing the pressure down to the level your appliances need.
Inside the regulator, is a relief valve. Its job is to relieve pressure spikes. This allows the regulator to work with a normal, or constant, gas pressure that is within its designed zone. The regulator would not function well if the incoming pressure wasn’t somewhat consistent.
When the relief valve does its job, it expels the excess pressure, or excess flammable gas, through the relief vent to the outdoors. Normally this is a very small amount of gas and will go unnoticed. But in extreme situations, there could be a very large amount of gas and sometimes for a sustained period.
For this reason, it is important to maintain a clearance zone around the relief valve. Clearance zones help prevent the flammable gas from reaching a source of ignition and help prevent it from easily entering the home.
What are the gas regulator relief vent clearance zones?
Clearance zones are generally broken down into two categories: a 10-foot zone, and a 3-foot zone. If you have some clearance issues on your home, the utility company or a plumbing contractor may be able to install a vent extension onto the regulator to remedy the issue. Below is a list of which items fall into which category.
- Window or wall-mounted fans and air conditioners
- Mechanical ventilation system air intake
- Windows and doors
- Attic and crawlspace vents
- Soffit vents
- Electrical devices (switches, receptacles, disconnects, meter,
- Heating appliance intake or exhaust
- Fireplace cleanout
- Bathroom and Dryer Exhaust
If you would like to learn more about gas meter clearances, the link below has everything you need!