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How Dangerous are Gas Lines?

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We all know scenes like this from the movies: Dangerous gases seeping into your house while you are asleep, then somebody lights a cigarette, and BOOM! Are gas lines putting you and your family at risk? How likely are gas explosions and household fires?

If proper safety steps are not taken to protect against gas leaks, they can lead to a dangerous situation.

Gas Line Fires

Gas explosions in the U.S. kill approximately 65 people annually, with pipes creating various problems. Old or new, your gas lines may require some attention to ensure fire prevention. If your home has rigid piping, you might have it checked.

What is rigid piping?

Rigid pipes are usually made of plain concrete, reinforced concrete, vitrified clay, cast iron, and asbestos cement. Rigid pipes have sufficient strength to support loads even if no side support, such as backfill, is provided. However, providing proper bedding and backfill can significantly increase this load-carrying capacity. Rigid pipes made of plain concrete are considered as failed if a crack or fracture is observed.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), joints and fittings comprised of threaded, black iron pipes are a common source of gas leaks, fires, and explosions. Improper installation may result in leaks when pipes are not tightened sufficiently, cross-threaded, or are connected with excess/insufficient joint compound. This style of the gas line may also frequently leak when constructed with multiple joints (joints are a common location of problems). They may also deteriorate over time and after exposure to lightning and be compromised in the event of earthquakes, natural disasters, and other physical damage.

CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Gas Tubing)

Unlike rigid pipe, the flexibility of CSST pipe requires fewer connections than rigid lines, allowing them to withstand cracking better than black iron piping. Unfortunately, these newer lines, installed throughout the U.S. since 1989, have recently been identified as vulnerable to direct and indirect lighting strikes, which can cause CSST piping to break. Fortunately, risk can be mitigated with the following:

  • A correctly anchored grounding bar/post near the gas panel and a grounding line from the black pipe inside the home to this post. (NOTE: If piping from the exterior meter is CSST, this is impossible. Additionally, this is unsafe if the utility company owns your gas meter – the meter will ground strikes and be destroyed.)
  • Several CSST manufacturers and the National Electric Code, section 250.104b, also recommend bonding all piping and metal air ducts (as well as metallic chimney liners, metallic appliance vents, metallic ducting, and piping, electrical cables, and structural steel) within the premises to the electrical service grounding to provide additional safety.

Ensure Gas Fire Prevention

Proper gas line installation is best left to professionals. If your home utilizes appliances that run on gas, have your home professionally inspected for safety to prevent your home from becoming a fire prevention statistic. If you consider adding, updating, or repairing gas lines in your home, get the Pipe Doctor professionals to ensure the utmost safety and quality of work.

Did you have a gas fire at your home? The Pipe Doctor has the skills it takes to quickly and safely help you put the pieces back together again. Contact us today.

Give us a call at 508-775-6670

or email cmurphy@plumberscapecod.com

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