Trouble Can Come in Three's


The article below appears in the June Issue of the River Springs Newsletter:

There is nothing as nice as sitting in our backyards, enjoying the sounds of the neighbourhood, and drinking a frothy beverage or two as the long days of summer get closer. Winter's doldrums are all but forgotten and as the weather gets nice, we start to think about all the home improvement jobs we have ahead. 

Pop Quiz: There are three main utilities we have coming into our homes, do you know what they are and where your safety turn-offs are? If you are starting a renovation project this year, knowing these are essential. Even if you’re not planning on doing any work, houses can have a nasty way of surprising us when we least expect it. So, it is best to know where these are. 

Natural Gas

When it comes to life safety hazards, gas leaks are a top concern. Natural gas has no natural smell so the utility companies add a sulfur/rotten egg smell which is very distinctive. If you ever smell gas in your home, the first safety step is very simple, get out. The main gas turnoff for the house is at your natural gas meter but don't bother looking for a wrench. Just get out and call Fortis' emergency number (800-663-9911) or call 911 from a cell phone. They will bring a wrench and safely turn the gas off for repair. 


Electricity is broken up into various live segments. One segment goes from the main street utility to the meter at our home. Then, another segment from the meter to the main electrical panel breakers. Various segments, called circuits, then go from the panel from the various breakers to each switch and outlet. This segmentation allows for safe levels of normal electrical use but in an unsafe overload, your breakers should trip to off. In the event you have an electrical emergency, you will want to turn off ALL the electricity at the main breakers on your panel and call an electrician for repairs. If turning off the main breakers does not solve the problem, it it time to get out and call 911.


Water is the least risky for life safety concerns but carries some of the biggest damage concerns. We all have a master water supply from the main water lines in the street that enters our homes. There are two possible turn offs for this supply, one is outside but requires a special water-key to turn off. You should know where the outside one is but the one inside you can turn off in an emergency does not need a special key. I've been in many River Springs homes and the location of the inside turn off varies greatly but often it is near the hot water tank, in a crawlspace, or under stairs near the front door. In the event you spring a leak, using a turn-off quickly and calling a plumber for repairs could save you thousands of dollars.

So, can you answer our quiz question above yet? If you have any trouble identifying these locations you can try asking your neighbors or calling in the pro's for advice.

By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.