Standards and guidelines for getting connected
Connecting a home, development or commercial building to natural gas can help you save on construction costs and offer customers the comfort, convenience and cost savings of natural gas appliances. There’s a lot to consider before you get connected, but we can help. The following information will guide and support builders and developers through the process.
Applying for natural gas service
It’s easy to apply for natural gas installation through our online service request tool. Before you begin, gather all of the information you’ll need. Missing information will delay, or prevent us from processing your application. Review the natural gas services brochure or read on to find out what you'll need to know.
Choose your preferred installation date
When selecting your preferred installation date on the application form, keep in mind we need three to six weeks lead time to schedule your service.
Your site must be at final grade to install natural gas. That means the building is at “lock up” stage of construction:
- The windows and doors are in.
- The roof is on.
- The area for the running line is clear of all construction materials or debris.
- Appliance venting has been installed in a safe location.
Please note: If the site isn't at lock up stage or clear when we arrive, your installation may be rescheduled causing project delays.
Calculate gas load
The gas load determines the size of the meter required for your building’s consumption. The total connected gas load of your building is calculated according to the type, and the number of each type, of gas appliances you plan to install – including any you plan to add in the future – and the number of British Thermal Units (BTUs) for each appliance. Talk to your certified gas fitter if you are unsure of your total connected gas load.
Calculate delivery pressure
The gas delivery pressure determines what size of regulator is placed on your meter. Your gas fitter can tell you what delivery pressure is required for the number, and type, of gas appliances you plan to install, as well as for the kind of piping the contractor plans to use in the building.
Identify meter location
Consult with your natural gas contractor to determine the best location for your meter. Indicate where you want the meter to be installed by putting a mark, or sign, on the building before FortisBC crews arrive. Your meter must be located according to the following criteria:
- Figure A - Natural gas meters may be installed 1) at any point along the building’s wall nearest the gas main, or 2) up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) past the corner of the building that is nearest to the gas main.
- Figure B - The location of the meter must allow for a direct and unobstructed line from the meter to the gas main.
- Figure C - All of the following must be at least 1 metre away from the regulator vent: non-mechanically powered air intake; non-gas appliance exhaust vent; gas dryer vent; potential sources of ignition such as an electrical outlet, electric meter or open flame barbecue; and building openings, including all windows and doors.
- Figure D - Mechanical (fan assisted) air intakes must be 3 metres (approximately 10 feet) away from the regulator vent.
- Figure E - Gas appliance exhaust vents must be located at least 4.5 metres (approximately 15 feet) above, or one metre to either side of, the gas meter regulator.
- Figures F & G - The distance from the regulator vent to the building’s overhang, must be greater than the depth of the overhang.
- FortisBC prefers to have the meter located at the gable, or pitched roof, end of the building, especially in high snowfall areas. Gas meters must be located away from the roof drip line and potential snow build-up.
- Meter locations must conform to National Standard CAN/CSA Z662 (current edition), Installation Code CAN/CGA-B149.1 (current edition), and to FortisBC Standards.
Calculate the inside property line measurement
The gas service line is also known as the inside property line measurement. It’s the distance from the property line to the corner of the building where the meter is to be installed. This measurement will tell the crew how far they will be digging and how much piping to bring to the site. It must be kept permanently clear of any above or below ground structures, obstructions and debris.
Identify other utilities on site
Clearly mark (stake) or expose other utilities by hand prior to the gas service line installation. If there is a septic field or well on the property, its location must be marked on the application drawing, and on site, as the gas service line cannot cross two services.
Our Standards and guidelines for getting connected brochure provides important information about connecting your project to natural gas.
Special installation considerations
Customer-installed trenching/conduit requirements
Before a gas line is installed under a retaining wall or adjacent to a detached garage, a trench or conduit containing a clearly marked duct or sleeve and a pull string is required. When the estimated service line installation costs exceed FortisBC's service line cost allowance, you may be able to reduce your costs by providing your own trench or conduit. Read on to learn more about what’s required if you decide to do this yourself. You may also call us at 1-888-224-2710 and press 3 for more information.
Customer-installed trench criteria
- The trench should be dug from the meter location to the property line.
- FortisBC will install natural gas service in the trench, then pad the pipe. Sand padding may be required depending on soil conditions.
- Customers are responsible for covering up the trench once gas service is installed.
- The trench must be a minimum of 30 centimetres (12 inches) wide; a minimum of 45 centimetres (18 inches) deep (unless there are extenuating circumstances); and must be 0.3 metres (1 foot) away from all utilities.
Once the customer-installed trench is dug, a clearly marked duct or sleeve must be placed in the trench. FortisBC will locate the clearly marked site and install natural gas service by pulling the pipe through the duct.
- The entire duct must be straight lengths of solid polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE) or plastic pipe approved for direct burial. Elbows, mitres or significant angles or bends are not permitted. A sweeping “S” curve may be used if approved by FortisBC (For example, to cross under a retaining wall).
- The duct must be a minimum of 88 mm (3 inches) in diameter for a 15 mm (½ inch) and 26 mm (¾ inch) service line.
- For service lines larger than 26 mm (¾ inch), the duct must be two pipe sizes larger in diameter than the size of the gas pips.
- If the service line is longer than 35 metres, contact FortisBC to determine the appropriate duct size.
- The duct is to be placed in the trench at a minimum depth of 30 centimetres (12 inches) to a maximum of 60 centimetres (24 inches). The standard depth for duct/sleeve placement is 46 centimetres (18 inches).
- The duct must end 1.5 metres (approximately five feet) short of the meter location.
- It must remain .3 metres (one foot) away from all utilities and must not be shared with any other utility, service or device.
- It must not be located under any building (e.g., house, shed, garage, porch or veranda).
Preparing the duct for FortisBC
- The entire length of a duct used for a natural gas line must be clearly marked with yellow to indicate it contains a natural gas line. Yellow spray paint can be used to completely cover it or, it can be marked with wraps of yellow duct tape (50 mm (two inch) self-adhesive) for the full length of the duct.
- The duct must also be marked every two metres with the words “GAS DUCT” or “GAS SLEEVE”, or with other marking methods approved by FortisBC.
- Insert a string through the length of the duct. This will be used by FortisBC to help pull the gas line through.
- Cap, tape or stuff clean rags into both ends of the duct to protect it and prevent foreign matter from entering.
- Cover the duct with earth, or other native materials.
- Mark both ends of the duct above ground with stakes labeled "GAS DUCT".
Backing board requirements for multi-meter installations
A backing board installed according to FortisBC standards is required whenever the wall isn’t suitable for a meter installation. For wall-mount meter installations other than 200/400 multi-meter manifolds, custom backing boards may be required.
Wall types that require backing boards
Examples of building wall materials that cannot have the building envelope or “rain screen” compromised and are not suitable for bracketing:
The material should be two, two-inch by 10-inch pieces of lumber, with 19 inches being the minimum stacked height of the assembled backing board.
The length of the backing board is determined by the number of gas meters required at that location. Allow one foot for each gas meter plus an extra six inches on either end. (For example, five gas meters equals a six-foot backing board.)
Height is measured from the ground at “final grade”. For a single run horizontal manifold, the top edge of the backing board should be 40 inches from final grade. For a double run (stacked) manifold, the top edge of the upper run, or top backing board, should be 78 inches from final grade.
The backing board can be painted to coordinate with the building finishes. Trim and caulking should be applied by the customer to maintain the integrity of the building envelope.
Moving or removing a natural gas line
If you need to move or remove natural gas service because you’re renovating or demolishing a building, please submit your request as soon as possible. It typically takes two to six weeks to remove a natural gas line and a minimum of two to eight weeks to move it. Get more information about moving or removing a gas line and submit your request.
Please note: If your home or building is older than 1990, we will require a Hazardous Materials Report prior to the start of on-site work.
As a builder/developer you have a role to play in ensuring natural gas service is installed correctly and safely in your project. Here are some important safety considerations:
Call or click before you dig: Hitting a gas line while digging can create an unsafe situation for you, your employees and the general public. It could also seriously delay your work schedule. At least three working days before you plan to break ground on a project call 1-800-474-6886 or *6886, or click BC 1 Call to find out where the buried gas lines and other utilities are located. It’s fast, free – and it’s the law. Read the guidelines for excavation safety around natural gas lines.
Working within a right of way: Buried pipelines within rights of way are indicated by distinctive marker posts and signs, often displaying the Call or click before you dig symbol. FortisBC rights of way must be kept clear at all times and written permission is required before work can be conducted within one. Read the guidelines for working within a right of way and how to apply for a permit. Still have questions? You can also call 1-877-599-0996 or email email@example.com.
Meter and piping safety: FortisBC owns and maintains the gas piping up to and including the meter. The piping past the meter-including gas lines to detached buildings with gas appliances-are the customers’ responsibility. Keeping the area around the natural gas meter clear ensures that maintenance workers and first responders can reach it safely at all times. Buried piping should be periodically inspected for corrosion or leaks and repaired by a registered gas contractor if found to be in an unsafe condition. Read more about meter safety.
What to do if you smell gas: We make natural gas smell like sulphur or rotten eggs on purpose. If you smell that unmistakable rotten egg smell, or hear the sound of escaping gas, it could be a natural gas leak. Stop what you’re doing, go outside and call the FortisBC emergency line at 1-800-663-9911 or 911. Read more about what to do in the event of a natural gas leak.
Preventing carbon monoxide (CO) problems: Regularly inspecting and maintaining natural gas appliances and vents is the best protection against carbon monoxide problems. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) will add an additional layer of safety. Read more about preventing carbon monoxide problems, the signs to watch for that may indicate you’ve been exposed to it and what to do in an emergency.
Natural gas billing
To open, close or move your natural gas account, use our convenient online tool at fortisbc.com/accounts-billing. There, you’ll also find useful information about other topics such as payment options, rates, meters and meter readings.
You may also call customer service at 1-888-224-2710, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We’re here to help
If you have questions about getting natural gas service for your project, contact an energy solutions manager or call 1-888-224-2710 (choose construction services), Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.