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Earthquake gas shutoff protocol
I live in--and am on the safety committee for--a multi-story 181 unit condo building in Northern California. All of the residential gas meters are collected into two rooms in the parking garage.
In the event of a significant earthquake, we would like to develop a protocol for quickly checking all of the gas meters to see if any are spinning too fast--indicating a broken pipe and gas leak. The question is how fast is "too fast"?
Each residential unit has a 62,000 BTU water heater (also used for space heating), a kitchen range that can apparently consume up to 90,000 BTUs, and a decorative fireplace, perhaps 25,000 BTUs. This suggests that no unit could consume more than 177,000 BTUs (per hour?) of gas, which I believe comes out to about 3 cu ft of gas per minute.
Is the 1/2 cu ft hand on the meter making a half revolution in less than ten seconds a good indication that too much gas is being drawn?
How fast might the meter spin if a pipe were broken?
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