From time to time, you may find it necessary to turn off the gas for a stove (or other appliance) that heats with natural gas or LP (liquid propane) gas. Several common repairs for stoves and other appliances may require that you shut off the gas. And should you ever detect a faint odor of gas in your home, shutting off the gas may be required.
Before You Begin
It's a good idea to make a point of knowing where the gas shutoff valves are located for your range and all other gas appliances in your home. In the event that you smell gas, don't spend a lot of time searching for the appliance shutoff valves if you don't already know where they are.
Building codes now require the gas shutoff valve to be located within 6 feet of the appliance and in the same room. If you find an improper situation that doesn't meet the code requirements, it's a good idea to have a service person install a proper shutoff valve. Shutoff valves for standard (freestanding) gas stoves or ranges typically are located behind the appliance.
Any time there is a gas leak in one of your appliances, there is the possible danger of an immediate and catastrophic explosion or fire, so the official recommendation from most utility companies is to leave your house immediately if you smell gas, then call the utility company. Only if the odor is faint should you take the time to find the shutoff valve to an appliance to stop the flow of gas. Shutting off the gas to the stove yourself is safe only if the gas odor is faint and is clearly coming from the stove area.
If a gas smell permeates the entire house, or you detect a strong smell when you walk inside your home, leave the house immediately and call 911 from a location well away from your house.
If the odor of gas is faint and is contained in a small area, you can shut off the gas yourself before calling the utility or a plumber. In many instances, the location of the gas smell will give you a strong hint about what appliance is malfunctioning or where the bad connection is located. If you smell gas in the kitchen, for example, it's quite likely that the problem lies with the stove or range. When the smell of gas is localized in this way, it is usually safe to act quickly to turn off the gas supply to the appliance itself, but always use your best judgment, and err on the side of safety.
Watch Now: How to Turn Off Gas to a Stove at Shutoff Valve
Equipment / Tools
- Work gloves (optional)
Ventilate the Area
If you smell gas, open windows to provide ventilation to the room. Do not turn on vent fans or even operate light fixtures until the gas has been shut off and the room has been ventilated. If the gas is dense in the air, there is a small but real chance that electrical arcing from flipping a wall switch could trigger an explosion.
Check the Burners
Make sure all the burner controls for the stove are in the OFF position. In a surprising number of cases, a slightly opened burner valve is what allows gas to seep into the kitchen. If this isn't the problem, move to the next step.
Remove the Oven Drawer
Carefully pull out the drawer below the oven compartment, and empty the drawer of all contents. Remove the drawer completely. Shine a flashlight into the open drawer space to check for the gas shutoff valve. Most stoves are installed so that the gas shutoff valve is accessible through the drawer compartment; this allows you to easily shut off the gas without moving the stove.
If the shutoff valve is not accessible behind the drawer compartment, look behind the stove for the gas shutoff valve; if it's there, you'll have to pull the stove out from the wall to access the valve. If you don't see the shutoff valve behind the stove, look for it underneath the floor (in a basement or crawl space below the stove location) or in a neighboring cabinet.
Move the Stove if Needed
If the shutoff valve is behind the stove but is not reachable from the drawer compartment, carefully pull the stove away from the wall to gain access to the gas valve.
As you move the stove, keep an eye on the flexible gas tubing. It's very likely that connections on this tubing are where the gas leak is occurring, and you don't want to aggravate the problem by pulling out the stove too quickly or putting stress on the tubing or connections. Do not unplug the stove from its electrical outlet, since pulling the plug from the outlet creates a small risk of sparking.
Close the Shutoff Valve
Locate the gas valve handle and turn it a one-quarter turn until it stops. Usually, this is a ball valve with a lever handle. When the gas is ON, the shutoff valve's knob will be in-line with the gas pipe. When it is in the OFF position, the handle will be perpendicular to the direction of the gas pipe.
Turn on one of the stove burners to verify that the gas has been turned off. If you want to unplug the stove cord from its electrical outlet, wait until the smell of gas is completely gone.
If you still smell gas after you shut off the gas to the stove, call the gas company immediately to have them shut off the gas supply to the entire home and inspect for a leak. Vacate your home until the service person gives you the all-clear that your home is safe.
Gas Shutoffs for Cooktops and Wall Ovens
With cooktops that are set into countertop openings, shutting off the gas is very easy, since the shutoff valve is usually located inside the base cabinet below the cooktop. Just locate the valve and turn it one-quarter turn so the handle is perpendicular to the gas pipe. (Again, when the gas is on, the handle will be in-line with the pipe.) In rare instances, you may need to lift the cooktop unit away from the countertop opening to reach the shutoff valve.
Wall ovens that are mounted inside permanent wall cabinets usually have a gas shutoff valve located in a cabinet below or to the side of the oven, where it is readily accessible. This has been a code requirement for some time, but in older installations, the shutoff valve for a wall oven can be hard to find. It may even be located in another room, or in the basement space below the oven.
When to Call a Professional
Call the gas company or a plumber to find the source of the problem. While it is possible to inspect the flexible gas line and tighten the connections or replace the gas line yourself, the potential dangers here are great, and it's best to have the gas company or a plumber do this inspection and work. In many communities, homeowners are discouraged or forbidden from working on gas lines themselves due to the inherent dangers.