There are few things more distressing than discovering the gas service has been cut off to your building. Without gas service, people can’t stay warm, cook food, or have hot water. It is not a trivial thing to cut gas service off, but the utility company will do so when unsafe conditions are detected.
Unsafe conditions generally means one of two things. The first is that there is a reason to suspect a gas leak. The second is that there has been unauthorized and potentially unsafe work done to a building’s gas lines. An example is a case where a gas dryer had been installed by the property owner, rather than by a licensed master plumber.
Why Is the Gas Shut Off to the Entire Building for a Single Problem?
Sometimes tenants don’t understand why the faint smell of gas in one apartment causes the entire building to lose gas service. This is done for safety reasons. Gas is highly explosive, and there’s no way to guarantee that the damage will be confined to the initial gas leak site.
Any work done on gas lines by anyone other than a licensed plumber is illegal. There is no way to know if this work was done according to building code and best practices. The risk to everyone in the building is unacceptably high.
What Does it Take to Get the Gas Turned Back On?
After the gas has been shut off, the steps necessary to have service restored include hiring a licensed master plumber to perform any necessary repairs and bring the gas lines into compliance with code. Then the work must be inspected by the city. Once the inspector says ok, gas service can be restored.
There’s a permitting process that’s fairly specific about who can do what in this process. You can read all the fine details here.