Gas lines and water lines sometimes resemble each other and can be made of the same material, but gas lines travel from the gas main to fuel burning appliances such as gas powered clothes dryers, gas water heaters, ranges, furnaces or fireplaces. Water pipes are the thin pipes that run through the walls, under the floor, basement and attic. They carry water in and out. Drain, waste and vent pipes are wider. Water pipes are hidden in walls, attics, crawl spaces, basements and below cabinets. They are pressurized and they seldom need repair – at least until one springs a leak or become clogged and deliver only a small amount of water.
Don’t wait for an emergency to find your water main. It is often in the front yard near the curb or sidewalk. Its heavy lid can usually be removed by inserting a screw drive in the slit and prying it open. Most water valves can be turned with an adjustable crescent wrench, but a special purpose water main wrench is easier to use and can be found at the local home improvement or hardware store. Periodically, turn the main water valve off and on to keep it moving easily.
Home Maintenance for Dummies by James Carey and Morris Carey, Jr., offers advise that will keep your pipes in good working order, prevent water damage and allow you to perform common repairs such as replace a damaged section of pipe, fix burst pipes, quiet noisy pipes, tighten loose mounting straps and adjust water pressure. But know when to call a professional. A licensed contractor can do all this and more, easily, AND will ensure that the work is done correctly and according to all applicable codes. This is important for your safety.
According to the Federal Alliance for Home Safety, because most gas and water lines are rigid, they can be torn from their connection points during an earthquake. The results could include not only serious damage to your property but also injury to you and others. A broken gas line is especially serious because of the potential for a fire or even an explosion. One way to prevent broken gas and water lines is to have flexible connection pipes installed between appliances and their supply lines. The same method can be used for other appliances, such as a hot water heater, clothes dryer, stove or gas furnace. A licensed contractor can usually do this for you easily.
Flexible connections help prevent tearing of gas and water lines from their connections, serious damage to a structure, fires or explosions and injuries to occupants. A flexible connection will help protect against a small amount of movement but is not designed to function when the appliance it is connected to moves extensively or falls. So you should also consider anchoring the appliance to the floor or wall.