As most residents know by now, Con Edison has undertaken a program to install natural gas detectors in the homes of all their customers. A contractor working for the utility company is doing the work and homeowners can schedule an appointment if they wish to plan ahead.
If the contractor finds a gas leak in your home that cannot be quickly resolved they will shut off your gas immediately, leaving you without service until the problem is fixed by a licensed plumber and an inspection is completed by Scarsdale Village. All of this could take time and money and leave you without heat, hot water, and gas for your appliances.
We’ve heard from a few people who were caught off guard and ended up with no gas service after the Con Edison contractor detected a leak.
How did this occur?
One woman scheduled an appointment with Con Edison for the meter to be installed which you can do here:
However, when the contractor arrived, he detected gas in her home and immediately called Con Edison who arrived quickly and without any warning shut off her gas. As she had her grandchild in the house and was not prepared for the loss of her heat and hot water she begged him to turn it back on until she could call a plumber to address the issues.
He refused and in her words was “arrogant” and “rude.” Her husband grew so incensed at the loss of service that he almost came to blows with the Con Edison representative and his wife called the police.
Now the family is without heat and hot water and faces days or even weeks of work by a plumber who will have trouble detecting the location of the leaks because the gas is not on. Once the work is done they will have to schedule an inspection with Scarsdale Village, which could also take a few days to occur.
Another Quaker Ridge resident permitted the contractor to enter her home during the coldest weeks of the winter. When the contractor found a leak Con Edison shut off her gas. She was without heat in the house for weeks.
How to avoid the problem? It may seem easiest to simply prevent them from coming inside. However, If they make several attempts to enter your home and you deny them access, you may be chared a $100 fine.
We asked Allan Drury from Con Edison for an explanation and here is what he said:
It is correct that we are changing out meters and installing smart meters. As in any instance in which we find a gas leak, we cannot leave it. We would be leaving behind a potentially grave danger.
As the press release indicated, we urge customers to schedule inspections and gas detector installations. These inspections would detect the leaks that we are finding during the meter installations. When our inspectors find a leak, we make it safe if we can. When we cannot, we shut off the gas and advise the customer to hire a plumber. There is no benefit to Con Edison whatsoever to shut off a customer’s gas. We do it when necessary because public safety comes before everything else.
We are making extensive efforts to inform customers of the state-mandated inspections. All customers received an initial letter; we knock on doors, leave notes at doors, and send postcards, emails and letters. Customers can schedule inspections via our website. The press release was also an attempt to get word out. In addition, we have been briefing public officials. You’ll note that the Westchester County commissioner of Emergency Services was quoted in our press release.
We also asked Scarsdale Deputy Village Manager Rob Cole for the Village’s point of view and he said:
I would like to add that any Scarsdale Con Ed gas customer having tried unsuccessfully to resolve a gas leak detection program problem through Con Ed is welcome to contact me at 914.722.1108, or by email using email@example.com, and I will endeavor to support resolution. Additionally, any specific instances of unprofessional interactions may be shared with me by email and I will forward to appropriate ConEd personnel for review and follow-up; while the work is very important and the urgency of making any necessary repairs should be understood by our residents, Con Ed personnel should nonetheless engage with their customers professionally.
Importantly, the gas leak detection program is a regulatory mandate that neither Con Ed nor Village staff are authorized to grant relief from, as the program exists for the safety of all Con Ed gas customers and their neighbors.
I have also requested that Con Ed contact you directly to discuss any specific questions concerning how the program works, including the process and timing for resolving any leaks detected when the inspection is completed.
We asked Cole if residents could avoid problems by getting their own gas inspection before giving the Con Edison contractors access to their homes to install the new meters. Here is his response:
Yes, a Con Ed gas customer could choose to hire a plumber to inspect for gas leaks ahead of the cycle when Con Ed is required to inspect (it’s a recurring inspection program). Because Con Ed reports that the vast majority don’t have leaks, we have not advised that customers should hire a plumber for that purpose, though it is certainly an option for someone concerned about the potential for a shut-off during the Con Ed inspection; perhaps Con Ed has a different reason for not suggesting pre-inspection by a plumber. One should also note that, depending on the nature of the leak and associated fix a plumber may undertake, a shutoff may still be necessary until the repair is completed and cleared by Con Ed.
From a home safety perspective, not directly related to the inspection program, a resident may also consider installing a natural gas detector, though that is not mandatory. Con Ed offers an FAQ on their gas detector program here: There are also commercial products available that may have better alarm systems, broader coverage through the home, etc.
Read more from the Village here:
Commenting on the article, Ron Tesoro said, "Precision Pipeline Solutions the company performing the "inspections" and installation of a gas sensor cannot assure me that they are insured to enter and do the work that Con ed has secured them for. None of the individuals are licensed plumbers nor do they possess the skills to properly assess a potential problem. Con ed claims that the contractors carry proper ID to identify themselves,not true. On one occasion two men showed up on my porch at random, I was on a call and did not answer my door, they decided to knock on my living room window in an attempt to get me to comply. Two weeks ago two people came back, rang the doorbell 6 times, opened the storm door and knocked before they left a Con ed hang tag.
Why hasn't the Village of Scarsdale stepped up here?
Another reader said "Thank you very much for the very informative article on Scarsdale10583 about Con Ed’s gas meter program implementation and effects on Village residents.
In preparation for a visit from the Con Ed subcontractor Precision Pipeline Solutions, we called our plumber. What we heard was not at all reassuring. Local residents in the middle of the winter having their gas cut off and having to go to hotels; long delays before gas service is restored because of the need for plumbers to find a leak, which may be tricky, and local governments needing to sign off on reconnecting the gas service and Con Ed to do the work. It sounded like potentially far more than 68 households in Westchester would have had their gas service shut off by this new gas leak meter program and suffered the consequences.
What a service you give, and not just to Scarsdale!"