St. Paul, MN- The state is reminding Minnesota home owners to keep their gas meters clear of ice this winter.

Gas meters have regulators to assure that natural gas doesn’t enter your home at excessively high pressure. Ice, and sometimes snow, can obstruct the vents on those regulators, causing them to malfunction.

The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety is reminding home and business owners to brush away snow on and around meters so it won’t melt and refreeze.

When snow melts and re-freezes, it can form solid ice that seals off the vent on a gas regulator. With the vent sealed, the regulator won’t work properly, and one of two things can happen, according to Pipeline Safety Chief Engineer Elizabeth Skalnek.

“Gas pressure can build up inside the building, resulting in a fire or explosion, or lack of gas flow will result in loss of heat service. Either situation is dangerous and easily avoided,” Skalnek says.

If the meter is covered with ice, homeowners should call the utility company. Removing the ice improperly could damage the meter and cause a leak. Skalnek reminds consumers to stay alert.

“If you smell gas, lose service or your gas appliances malfunction, leave your home, and call your natural gas supplier from a neighbor’s house.”

When blowing or shoveling snow from nearby areas, be sure it doesn’t accumulate around the gas meter.

Gas meters that ice up regularly are usually below the drip line of a roof and catch the melted snow as it comes off the eaves.