Earthquake Shut Off Valve – To Permit or Not Permit, That’s The Question

A permit for an earthquake shut off valve is really not a permit per se. This ‘permit’ is not allowing you to install an earthquake valve on your gas line for your property. A permit will simply tell the city a seismic gas shut off valve is there and to code. Your property is your property and you can do anything you want to it, unless of course you own an attached home, where the gas lines coming from the gas meter may be owned or controlled by the HOA or other common interests. A permit is more like a ‘certification’ than a conventional building permit.

When an earthquake valve permit is called into the city, by either a plumber or homeowner, it is first applied for, then paid for, then a city employee will be assigned to the property to inspect the earthquake valve for its plumbing code compliance. If no access to the city employee is given, a reinspection fee of approx. $250 will be charged by the city.

This ‘permit’ is simply a fee you pay to your city for them to verify (either in person or by another method) that the installed earthquake valve:

  • Adheres to all current state plumbing codes
  • Will be noted on the property’s city record if there is one

The valve typically is put on the gas meter before the permit is called for. Usually the owner or seller can ‘permit’ any existing earthquake shut off valve no matter when it was put on, but older non-compliant earthquake valves may not be permittable. The seller can also have a plumber initiate the permit process once the valve is installed or before, but it must be installed by the time of the city inspection. Every city is a little different when it comes to earthquake shut off valve permits. Some cities charge nothing, some cities charge $300- $400, it all depends on the city and their current rates for this service. The building and safety department of each city is the department in charge for this permit.

Is a permit on an earthquake shut off valve necessary to close escrow when selling? In reality many escrows close without the earthquake shut off valve having a ‘permit’ on file with the city its located in. All cities will say a permit is required, as this is their policy. And some real estate offices will require a permit on any newly installed earthquake shut off valve to cover their companies liability policy. Check with your real estate broker or escrow officer on the need of a city permit for the earthquake shut off valve on the property to be sold before ordering. Some older valves may be ‘grandfathered’ in with no need of a permit on file with its city, check with us if your earthquake shut off valve may fall into this category, here is the link.

Why would some sellers not have the earthquake valve ‘permitted’? Some homeowners don’t like city inspectors on their property in fear of the inspector ‘seeing’ other items of code non-compliance, ie non-permitted living quarters’ ‘grow’ sheds, non-compliant plumbing and electric installations, and generally for privacy reasons.

Bottom line – A permit will affirm to the city that the earthquake shut off valve is installed properly and adheres to the current (2023) plumbing code.

Condos – When adding an earthquake shut off valve to an attached home (ie condo, townhome, etc), the HOA may have to agree for it to be installed. Check with them before having an earthquake shut off valve installed to avoid any delays or penalties, and start early in the game when selling a condo, townhome or other type of attached home.

Important note : Always have an earthquake shut off valve, or anything related to a residential gas line, installed and worked on by a state licensed plumber, not a handyman. Mistakes with gas lines can become deadly.

earthquake valve how much cost price how to SGSOV metro retro retrofitting

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *