In preparation for our remodel, I had to upgrade and move my gas meter. This is the story of how and why we did it.
Why did you move your gas meter?
My current gas meter is in the way of what will be my new front door. Obviously, it’d be an imposition on guests to make them step over the meter when coming in the house but it’s also not to code. Code requires 3 feet of clearance from any passive air intake and 10 feet from any mechanical air intake. There are a lot of other placement rules too, PSE puts them all in a handy guide.
Why did you upgrade your gas meter?
My house originally had the model A250 gas meter. The A250 is rated up to 300,000 BTU/hr. A BTU or British Thermal Unit equates to the amount of energy required to heat one pound of water from 39 to 40 degrees Celsius. In order to calculate the BTU used, you add all of the load of all of the appliances in your home that use gas. If it’s a load that’s always on like a furnace or water heater, you use the full amount, if it’s a transient load like an oven or fireplace, then you take 75% of the load.
Here’s the breakdown for my house:
Even with the 25% deduction, I’m still over the 300k BTU limit. My new meter is the A450 which is good for up to 540k BTU. This is sounds like a lot more, but a tankless water heater is a 200k BTU load which means my total gas usage will eventually be 491,250 BTU/hr. This means I have 40k left if I ever want to add a space heater to my deck.
How do you move your meter?
First thing you do is call Puget Sound Energy at 1-888-321-7779. They will tell verify your load calculations and also check to see if the line coming to your home can handle the new load. I got lucky, my house has a steel pipe going to it that’s worth up to 1,000,000 BTU/hr. New homes get a plastic pipe that caps out at 400k BTU.
PSE will assign you a project number and then you’ll be contacted by Infrasource, PSE’s exclusive contractor for doing the line move. Infrasource will come to your home, do a site survey and work with you to find a new location for the meter. They’ll call you with an estimate. PSE subsidizes the cost of the move if you’re upgrading service. Once you agree on the price, they’ll mail you a contract. You send it back signed and they’ll schedule the move.
PSE will only handle the work on the outside of the house. Work done on the inside needs to be done by a licensed contractor. This work can be done by plumbers, or HVAC companies. As usual, get multiple bids. In my case, I got two: one for $2,345 and one for $900. I went with the $900 and was happy I did. The contractor you choose will need to pull a permit and you’ll have to ge tthe work inspected before PSE will let you connect the new meter.
The easiest way to do this is to have the interior contractor do all of the work on the inside of the house without taking your gas offline. They can get the work inspected, and then have them come back when PSE does the outside work. If you show the Infrasource crew your signed permit, they’ll connect the new meter to the pipe. Once all of the work is done, PSE will send a technician to relight your appliances.
How does Infrasource actually move the meter?
Infrasource digs two holes in your hard, one where the existing line is and one where the meter is going to be. They then use a tool called a “mole” to bore a tunnel between those two points. They then run a new plastic pipe between the two locations. When they’re done, all you’re left with is a white cap in your yard where they moved the gas line.
How did it go for you?
My job ran into a few snags. First off, they accidentally cut my water line. The ground in my yard was really hard so they used a pneumatic spade to break up the dirt. In the process, they did a number on my water line. The yellow pipe in the picture is the original gas line, the mangled copper line below it is what’s left of my water line, that copper line should be straight and round.
As soon as they broke the line, they tried to turn off my water. Unfortunately, my house had an old style water shutoff so we had to call the water emergency line for the city and have them come out and turn the water off. The woman from the city water department was awesome, not only did she turn my water off, she replaced the valve with the modern one and helped the gas company fix my leak. You can see the patched line and the new gas line in this picture:
When it was all said and done, I had my new meter installed and you couldn’t even tell any work had been done.