A gas meter lock is a specialized lock that is placed on a gas meter to close off the flow of gas completely. These locks are costly, as are the specialized keys that unlock them. A gas meter lock can be applied for a few different reasons.
One reason can be because there is a leak further down in the line. The gas meter lock is then applied to keep it completely closed until whatever is causing the leak can be repaired or replaced.
Another option is that it can be a cause for one of these being placed on your gas line is due to failure to pay. In this case, the meter lock will only be removed when the debt is paid.
The most common reason for a gas meter lock being applied is that you are way overdue on your payments. The most common type of a gas meter lock is that of a barrel ball locking mechanism. These locks work by using a steel cylinder placed behind ball bearings and kept in place by a spring.
The key pulls the cylinder up, compresses the spring, and allows you to push in the ball bearings. When the key is removed, the spring pushes the cylinder back into place behind the ball bearings, which forces them out.
How to take a lock off a gas meter
The simple way to remove a gas meter barrel lock is easy: use the key. However, if you want to know how to remove a barrel lock without a key, that is a more complicated matter. If you do it the wrong way, not only will you be unable to get the lock off, but you can damage the inside so that not even the key can get it off.
One of the quickest ways to do that is by using a tool that needs to fit all the way down to the bar (a small screwdriver) and a plastic piece. Take the plastic piece from the inside of a pencil and cut off a quarter-inch piece. Then, you’ll want to use your screwdriver to hammer into this plastic piece. Once you have done this, you will need to insert the screwdriver until it reaches the bottom of the lock and hit a couple of times, pull and release.
You just need to use the right size diameter tool. For example, a crochet hook can be an excellent tool for this.
Also, this can be done with a 9/32” socket. You will need to wiggle it and push hard.
One of the surest ways involves using a wood screw. Remove the very tip of the screw and sand down the threadings of the top part of the screw. Doing this should leave only a couple of rotations on the bottom of the screw, with the rest of it being smooth. Here is a walkthrough video.
Once you have done this, you should be able to insert the screw until it reaches the bottom of the meter lock. Then turn it around a couple of times so that the ridges can engage the base. You may hear a clicking noise or feel a difference in the screw. Now you should be able to pull up on the cylinder in the bottom.
Pull it up against the spring, and the ball bearings should push in and allow you to take the lock off. If for any reason, you want to put it back on, you should be able to do so. And that is how to remove a gas meter lock.
The worst idea to remove the lock is to cut it off in some way. Not only does this not always work, but depending on what you use to cut, you could end up cutting something important. This could result in an explosion or at the very least, a harmful gas leak.
Consequences if you remove a gas meter lock when you are not supposed to
Some of the consequences of removing a gas meter lock when you are not supposed to can vary according to where you live. At the very least, you may very well be ordered to reimburse the gas company for the price of the lock that you took off. This could be true even if you did pick the lock off, since doing this can interfere with the connection that the key is supposed to have.
If you damage anything besides the lock, you will also have to pay for that as well. Some companies will also require you to make an additional deposit as they will now categorize you as a high-risk client. However, in some cases, the gas company may decide to refuse service to you permanently due to your breach of contract. You should consider this if there is only one gas company in your area.
In extreme cases, you can be criminally charged for removing a gas meter lock. This is because the gas meter is not something that you legally own, even when it is on your property. Tampering with it can, therefore, be classified as either destruction of someone else’s private property, theft of services, or both.
This can lead to a substantial amount of fines, not to mention possibly having to pay lawyers and court fees. Worst case scenario, if you are charged, is that you end up with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Each of the latter options can potentially result in jail time of around a year.