5 Tips from Consumers Energy to Protect Meters from Falling Ice

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Electric Safety, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

IcicleMeterSMJust as snow and ice around electric and natural gas meters can lead to safety concerns, warming temperatures and falling ice create additional hazards.

Consumers Energy gets about 30 reports every year of damaged meters caused by falling ice. Recently, building fires in Walker and near Lansing were sparked when ice fell and broke off a gas meter. Additionally, ice can fall on people, cars and air conditioning units.

Here are 5 tips to help prevent falling ice:

  1. Knock down icicles when they’re still small, if it is safe to do so, to keep them from getting big enough cause damage when they fall
  2. If ice gets to damaging size above meters, consider leaning a sheet of 3/4″ plywood against the wall and over the meters to deflect falling ice away from the meters. Act fast, to limit time spent in that potentially dangerous location under the ice
  3. Do not park or walk under icicles which may fall unexpectedly
  4. Keep down spouts unplugged before winter begins to help prevent the problem of ice forming over meters
  5. Ice dams on roofs/gutters also can be caused by improper insulation and ventilation. For professional advice, select a contractor who participates in the Consumers Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebate program
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Keep Furnace Vents, Meters Free of Snow and Ice for Safety

Posted on January 6, 2014. Filed under: Community, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , |

furnaceVentFollowing last weekend’s heavy snowfall across Michigan, we’re encouraging customers to keep safety in mind and make sure your gas furnace fresh air intake pipes and gas/electric meters are free of snow and ice.

With the large amount of snow that fell over the past two days, we have received numerous no-heat calls from customers, particularly those who live in mobile homes where chimneys are located on top of flat roofs. Snow has piled up around and blocked many of these chimneys, which causes furnace pilot lights to go out. Keep safe and warm with these tips:

  • Mobile Home customers: Safely clear snow away from mobile home rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake. The furnace can then be recycled and should operate properly.
  • High Efficiency Furnace customers: Make sure the fresh air intake pipes (typically two white plastic that comes out of the side of the home – see related photo) are free from drifting snow to prevent obstructions and improper operation. 
  • Keep gas and electric meters clear of snow and ice. When snow and ice is allowed to build up it can become compacted and freeze, causing damage that interferes with proper operation of meters and related appliances. Snow should only be removed by hand, never with a shovel or power snow removal equipment.

Carbon Monoxide Safety: Safe removal of snow and ice around chimneys, intake valves and meters can help prevent possible carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/cosafety

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Keep Furnace Vents, Meters Free of Snow and Ice

Posted on January 23, 2013. Filed under: Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, Uncategorized, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

MeterReaderWinter

PLEASE HELP KEEP METER READERS SAFE by keeping sidewalks, stairways and gate areas free of snow and ice buildup.

Consumers Energy reminds customers to keep safety in mind by making sure their natural gas meters and gas appliance fresh air intakes and exhaust pipes are free of snow and ice during the cold weather.

When snow is allowed to build up around these areas, it can become compacted and freeze. This can cause damage that interferes with proper operation of the natural gas meter and gas appliances such as furnaces or water heaters. Customers are advised to carefully remove snow by hand and not use a shovel or power snow removal equipment around these areas.

While most gas appliance fresh air intake and exhaust pipes are generally located on the sides of buildings, in manufactured or mobile homes they are most often located on the roof. Customers should use caution if they need to inspect these rooftop pipes.

“It’s important that customers keep meters, fresh air vents and exhaust pipes clear, particularly after weather that brings heavy snow and ice buildup,” said Michele Kirkland, Consumers Energy vice president of energy operations.  “Not only can snow and ice cause furnaces and appliances such as water heaters to stop operating, it can also cause potentially life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning to develop.”

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes.  If any of these symptoms are experienced, or if individuals have an audible carbon monoxide detector and it alarms, leave the building or area and contact Consumers Energy, their local natural gas provider or 911.

The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible alarm that will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide and www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm.

To help ensure the safety of meter readers, customers are also asked to keep their sidewalks, stairways and gate areas free of snow and ice buildup. A clear path to the meter and a meter that is clearly visible without a build-up of snow and ice will help make meters easier to read and reduce the need for estimating energy use.

For more information regarding Consumers Energy, visit www.consumersenergy.com or join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/consumersenergymichigan.

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Don’t Let Snow and Ice Damage Your Furnace or Meter

Posted on January 24, 2012. Filed under: Natural Gas Safety | Tags: , , , , , |

With the recent blast of snow and frigid temperatures, some of our customers have recently experienced furnace problems because of snow and ice buildup. It’s a good reminder to check your meters, furnace fresh air intakes and exhaust pipes to make sure they are clear of snow and ice. If snow builds up around these areas, it can become compacted and freeze, causing damage that interferes with the proper operation of a natural gas meter or furnace. 

If you do find snow buildup around these areas, you should carefully clear it away by hand, not with power snow removal equipment. Most fresh air intake and exhaust pipes are generally located on the side of a building, in manufactured or mobile homes they are generally located on the roof. 

While snow and ice buildup can cause furnaces and appliances such as water heaters to stop operating, it can also cause potentially life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning to develop. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible alarm that will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes. If any of these symptoms are experienced, or if you have an audible carbon monoxide detector and it alarms, leave the building or area and contact Consumers Energy, your local natural gas provider or 911. 

It’s also important to keep sidewalks, stairways and gate areas free of snow and ice buildup.  A clear path to the meter and a meter that is clearly visible without a buildup of snow and ice will help make it easier to read the meter and reduce the need for estimating energy use.

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Remembering Last Week’s Severe Winter Storm

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: Company Operations | Tags: , , , |

After last week’s winter storm, I think we are all ready for spring. The severe weather that hit Lower Michigan caused severe damage to our electric system and left a total of more than 214,000 of our customers without power. Up to 11 inches of snow fell in some parts of the state from Sunday afternoon, Feb. 20, through early Monday, Feb. 21, while up to three-quarters of an inch of ice accumulated in areas south of the I-94 corridor.

If that wasn’t enough, melting ice and increased winds throughout the day on Thursday, Feb. 24, caused an additional 21,000 of our customers to lose power. Conditions became even more challenging when an additional 2-4 inches of snow fell on Friday morning, Feb. 25.

Approximately 7,750 downed wires were reported during the week and more than 500 utility, line clearing and contract crews worked to restore power. More than 150 Consumers Energy crews from around the state were brought to Southern Michigan along with 70 contractor crews, 120 crews from utilities in Indiana and Ohio, and more than 170 contract forestry crews. All these crews worked extended hours to respond to wire downs and to restore power.   

We appreciate your patience and understanding as crews worked to restore power in some very challenging conditions. A thank you also goes to the many community agencies that provided assistance in the aftermath of the storm. Let’s hope that spring is just around the corner.

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