When it comes to water heaters, there are a number of issues that can be the cause of a water heater to not work properly or not work at all. However, one of the issues is not something that may at the top of most people’s checklist: gas supply issues. Sure, you may check to see if the gas is on or off, but many don’t think to check if the gas being provided is enough to allow the water heater to function at its optimal ability. In fact, this problem is more common than you might think, especially when it comes to commercial water heaters or when new appliances have been installed.
As you may know, homes and apartments with gas appliances are supplied with the gas by a local utility company and the gas comes into the residence through a gas meter and then, of course, through the gas line. The gas is measured by cubic feet per hour and each gas meter will show how much gas per hour it will allow to flow to the appliances in the home. A typical gas meter for a home may provide 200 cubic feet per hour of gas. Before any building is built, whether it’s a home or business complex, a gas company will come out and deter mine what the gas needs will be and then make sure that the gas meter and gas lines are properly sized to provide the correct amount of gas.

On the other end of the gas flow are the appliances and their use is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour. For example, a residential water heater will use around 40,000 BTUs per hour. In order to make sure a home’s gas meter and lines are properly sized, a little math is required. Basically, for each cubic feet per hour, multiply that by 1,000 to get the amount of BTUs that will be provided. So a gas meter that provides 200 cubic feet per hour of gas will provide roughly 200,000 BTUs per hour of gas. At this point, just add up all the BTUs that all of your appliances will need to figure out if there is enough gas to keep everything running properly.
At this point, let’s just be very clear that this is all a job for your local gas company. We just feel it is good information for people to have. And really, since the meter and lines have already been sized properly by the gas company, most people won’t run into this issue. But there are instances where this is exactly the problem and one example is when new appliances are installed. Depending on when the home or apartment was built, this may be an issue because some new appliances require more gas than their older counterparts. We see this most often when a commercial water heater is being installed to replace an older one. The newer commercial water heaters require more gas and if the line isn’t sized for the new appliance, the appliance will not operate properly. Also, if you are considering installing a tankless water heater, then it is a good idea to have your local gas company come out and make sure that your gas meter and gas lines are sized properly as these types of water heaters require more gas than a typical tank water heater.
So if you are thinking about installing any new gas appliances, you might want to compare the BTUs required by the old appliances versus the new ones before moving forward. Or if you have recently done so and are experiencing problems with the new appliance, you may want to have your gas meter and lines sized. Just give your local gas company a call and they will be happy to help you out.