The amount of gas used by a commercial or residential building needs to be measured every month.
Your gas consumption will be measured by a meter installed outside your home.
The energy company will use the information obtained from the meter to prepare your gas bills.
Both the energy company and yourself are responsible for the care and maintenance of the meter.
The company installs the meter and gives you the responsibility of ensuring that their technicians can access it and take note of the details without restrictions.
No regulations or code dictates the specific place you should put the gas meter.
So, every consumer is free to choose anywhere they desire it to be, provided it is located outdoors.
As a result, we sometimes discover too late that we installed them in inappropriate locations.
So, Can You Put A Fence In Front Of A Gas Meter?
The straight answer to this question is no. If you did, how would the energy company’s technician take the readings? Putting a fence in front of a meter would mean the technician won’t be able to conveniently access and take the readings unless they use another route to get to it. If you are not available to provide proper guidance, the technician may fail to take the measurements and would have to leave without the details.
Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Fence Off A Gas Meter
Here is why you shouldn’t put a fence in front of your gas meter:
Some customers may not realize that timely access to the gas meter may be beneficial in emergencies.
Your gas company may need to make some emergency repair work on the gas meter in line with recent regulations or similar reasons.
They may also need to access your meter quickly to turn it off and stop a malfunction, say, a gas leak at the joints or faulty mechanical parts of the device.
This is highly critical because failure to correct the malfunction on time can end up causing fires or give wrong readings that may inflate your energy bills.
For these reasons, it only makes sense to leave your meter openly accessible.
2. Basic readings
Fencing and denying the energy company’s employees direct access to the gas meter would mean they can’t take the readings on time.
When technicians fail to take the necessary information from the meter at the end of a certain period, they may wait until the moment you will be around.
This may mean your bills might arrive late, which can be a real inconvenience if you are used to putting your finances in order at the end of every month.
Failing to provide regular meter readings, whether through obstructions of the meter or any other reason, may result in shock bills running into hundreds of dollars.
Fortunately, some companies would leave a notice on your gate or door detailing why the meter is inaccessible.
Some of them may alert you through your phone number or any other prompt channel of communication you provided.
3. Protection from damage
Another reason why you should never erect a fence in front of your gas meter is to protect it from damage.
You might wonder, “Can’t it still be damaged when installed in front of the fence just as it would when behind the fence?”
Note that the gas meter will be more exposed to rusting when a fence is positioned in front of it because there will be limited access to it.
Unless it is galvanized or made from hardened plastic, standing still in isolation without regular inspection may cause rusting on some parts of the meter.
3 Reasons You COULD Fence Off A Gas Meter
However, you may erect a fence in front of your gas meter if:
1. Gas Meter Location
The gas meter was installed in the fence line, so you had to decide on the actual building of the fence.
In this case, it would be great if you erected your fence in front of it instead of incurring huge costs dismantling and setting it up again in front of the fence.
2. You Have No Choice
You have no choice but to build a fence with the meter behind it.
Some circumstances may compel you to do the undesirable, such as when planning to leave your home unoccupied for a long time and want a fence around it.
In such a case, having a meter behind the wall wouldn’t be a bother because there will be no energy consumption, meaning the company’s technicians will not drop by often to take the readings and stuff.
If you must erect a fence and still need to use the meter, you should either choose to use a transparent fence such as wire mesh type so that the company employee can read it from outside your fence.
This would mean you are positioning the meter close to the edge of the fence.
You don’t need to build your fence in front of the gas meter if you can enclose your meter in a box.
What do your local construction codes say about the positioning of gas meters?
It would be prudent on your side to check what your local building codes say about the installation of meters. If they forbid positioning it behind the fence, you would rather comply than get penalized.
This would also mean you can’t erect a fence in front of it even in the most compelling circumstances. If they permit it, do it only in the most compelling of all circumstances.
What clearance should you observe?
In situations necessitating the construction of a wall in front of a gas meter or placement of any other fixture close to it, there are a few general clearance distance specifications you need to observe.
Note that these are just general specifications and are not necessarily based on the code of any jurisdiction:
Gas meter clearance from fences, building features, and walls
Minimum clearance to the gas meter
Should be located in front of the wall (front presumed to be the side facing the public access) or within 3″ feet of the sidewall.
Regulator relief vent clearance from any corner
Should be 12” (meeting this specification removes the need for clearance distance requirements set for building features situated around any corner from your gas meter.
In case the regulator relief vent must be installed less than 12” from any outer corner, the minimum clearance mentioned here must be observed.
What does the gas company expect you to do?
Both the gas company and the consumer have a shared responsibility when it comes to maintenance of the gas meter.
However, there are a few things the company expects the consumers to fulfill as far as the positioning and access to the gas meter is concerned:
The company expects the consumer to position the meter in such a way that is free from obstruction like a fence, trees and other overgrowths, and landscaping walls.
Sometimes gas meters are blocked by landscaping and renovation.
It is the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that the renovation works and the resultant fixtures don’t restrict the employees of the gas company access to the meter.
A typical gas vendor will require you to:
- Leave a clear space of 3 meters around the gas meter, and at the back of the wall
- Remove all permanent obstructions that may hamper use, repair, interpretation, and maintenance work to be completed smoothly
- Do not fence in gas meter fences. If you must, gates and fences should be built behind instead of in front of gas meters.
What happens when you fence around in front of the meter box and prevent the company employees from taking the readings?
Well, each company would take a unique approach based on their protocol. In some cases, however, the company may simply estimate your gas consumption based on the data they already have and send the bill to you.
Can you erect a fence in front of the gas meter?
It depends on the circumstance, but most energy companies advise against it. Fencing would prevent the company’s employees from accessing the gas meter to take measurements.
Because you want your energy bills to be delivered on time, you’d rather not do anything that prevents the employees from taking the real measurements.
Damaged meters may require urgent repair to prevent further loss of gas or prevent wrong readings that may inflate your gas consumption.
You might be surprised one day how installing your gas meter in an easily accessible location can save you money in undamaged parts of a faulty leak that would’ve cost you more had it not been mitigated early enough.
Isolated meters installed in places away from reach tend to corrode faster than those that are readily accessible. Therefore, consider positioning your meter in front of the fence rather than behind it.
There are a few circumstances in which you may be justified to erect a fence in front of the meter.
Firstly, if you intend to leave the home unoccupied for a long time, but you must fence it off to keep off the intruders, you might fence in front of the meter.
The same applies when you discover that the meter was installed on or behind the fence line but would be costly to dismantle.