WARNING: If You Smell Gas — Leave The Home & Lawn.
Call 911 & Your Gas Supplier.
In DFW: Atmos Gas‘ Emergency Number is: 866 / 322-8667.
Unbonded Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) Gas Lines & The Risk Of Lightning-Strike Fires
This article details underground polyethylene gas-piping systems used from the source of the natural gas to your home. Then it details metal gas lines within your home. It also describes a history of house fires in homes associated with Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) gas lines when the home was struck by lightning.
The risk is substantially reduced when CSST gas lines are “bonded” — Connected With Wiring To Take Electrical Current Away From Them in the event of a lightening-strike on the home. Lightning-strikes have a documented history of creating holes in this type of gas line, allowing the gas to escape and dramatically increasing the risk of gas-fueled fire or explosion in the home.
Texas Building Code has allowed CSST since the 1990’s. Bonding Requirements started coming into practice as early as 2007 (in response to damage to CSST gas lines and fires in homes struck by lightning). Some homes do not have proper bonding of their gas lines.
A north Texas area house had a severe lightning strike to the steel chimney cap, and then passed into the house. Lightning entered the house through the metal chimney and was carried along: Corrugated Steel Gas Tubing (CSST) gas lines, copper electrical wiring, copper water piping, and the wooden structure itself. Two quarter-size holes were melted in the chimney cap.
The home experienced: broken drywall, burned electrical-wiring insulation, damaged copper water piping, and multiple feet of damaged CSST gas tubing. **
** Soure: http://haagengineering.com/featured-projects/residence-struck-by-lightning/20/
On Sept. 1, 2015 An Update To The Texas Home Inspection Report (REI 7–5) began requiring Home Inspectors to notify their clients (in writing & on the form) of the presence of CSST gas lines that do not have proper bonding.
If you own a home built since 1990, this risk may exist to your home. Many homes have gas lines in their attic. The home needs to be inspected, and (if not present) proper bonding must be installed to CSST gas lines, to help protect the home in the event of a lightning strike. This article gives details of the summary just above.
Getting Gas To Your Home
Underground gas lines must perform in harsh and corrosive environments. For this reason, Polyethylene gas piping systems are engineered and certified for underground gas lines installation. These lines are made in many sizes, from quite large for gas-main lines, to residential-service lines going to individual homes.
8-Inch Gas Main Being Installed
Residential Gas Lines Being Installed
Diagram Of Underground Gas Line To Gas Meter. Then From Meter Into Home.
The flexible Polyethylene gas lines run underground and up to your home’s gas meter outside.
Beyond The Gas Meter, Metal Gas Lines Are Installed Within The Home
For many years (and continuing today with some home builders) the metal gas lines installed are rigid black steel (also known as black iron). Additionally, Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) for gas lines has been allowed in Texas since the 1990’s. CSST is used to pipe gas throughout the home to gas: furnaces, water heaters and appliances in many newer homes. CSST is found in millions of homes across America.
Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing was invented for use in Japan, in response to earthquake-damage to rigid gas lines. While it works well in reducing that type of damage, this tubing has shown itself to be vulnerable to electrical damage due to electrical-arcing (from the home’s electrical wiring) during a lightning event. Electrical Bonding will reduce the risk.
Many fire experts believe a lightning-strike’s energy can run through the wiring in a house, then jump (or arc) onto CSST where it creates holes into the tubes, releasing gas and possibly creating a gas-fueled fire and / or explosion.
The dielectric yellow jacket is believed to actually increase the problem. In response, some manufacturers of CSST now have black coated versions that are more resistant to lightening strikes. Below is the marketing verbiage from one such manufacturer:
TracPipe® CounterStrike® is a patented CSST innovation based on our existing TracPipe® CounterStrike® CSST product. It is engineered to significantly decrease the potential for lightning-induced damage to fuel gas piping systems. **
** NOTE: This is not an endorsement of this product by Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C — only because we don’t have direct knowledge of all CSST products available. This information is provided only as a courtesy to our readers.
This NBC / DFW Channel 5 Newscast & Article describe homeowners’ first-hand experience with a fire caused by a lightening-strike to their newly-built Lubbock, TX home. The fire investigation stated the lightning-strike appeared to have caused punctures in the gas lines in the attic — setting the home on fire and resulting in the death of their son.
There are many documented fire inspections where it was believed a lightning-strike caused damage to unbonded CSST, resulting in gas-fueled damage. In response, CSST manufacturers developed electrical bonding requirements staring as soon as 2007. Their testing shows bonding will mitigate the problem for only “indirect” lightning strikes (those that do not hit the home). Yellow CSST was used in these tests.
CSST has been installed in Texas since the 1990’s. The bonding requirement did not go into effect until 2007 or later. This leaves a possibility (perhaps probability) that homes without properly bonded CSST can be anywhere in Texas.
Shown: Electrical Bonding Of A Gas Pipe — To Carry Electrical-Energy Away From The Pipe
Electrical bonding may or may not be present in existing homes with CSST gas lines.
Bonding Must Be Present In Homes With CSST Gas Lines — To Reduce The Risk Of Fire or Explosion Resulting From Damaged Gas Lines In The Event Of A Lightning-Strike
CSST must be bonded to reduce the risk of damage due to a lightning strike on the home. The most common issue that home inspectors find is the CSST system is not properly bonded.
When this type of gas-distribution system is installed, without being properly bonded to current standards, there is an increased risk for damage from a lightning strike. Damaged line can leak gas, causing a fire and / or explosion. All manufacturers of CSST began implementing Specific Bonding Requirements as soon as 2007.
What about existing homes? Building-Codes have something called ‘grandfathering’. This means when something was installed in compliance to Building-Codes at the time of the installation — it’s always code-compliant, even if Building-Codes change significantly.
A home inspector is not limited to Building-Code grandfathering. If something is deemed unsafe, due to a change in accepted residential construction standards, home inspectors can (or are legally obligated) to report it as part of their written Inspection Report.
If CSST was installed (in compliance to code) before CSST manufacturer had special requirements for bonding, that installation still meets code today. A Home Inspector will (or must) specify the need for a safety-upgrade based on today’s Building-Codes and Safety-Practices. **
** Source: http://structuretech1.com/csst-bonding-update/
Proper CSST Bonding ***
CSST Bond Wires or Clamps Shall NEVER Be Connected to: ***
- Natural gas meters or facilities.
- A ground that is independent of the electrical service grounding system.
- The corrugated stainless steel portion of the pipe. Clamps must be attached to: the brass fitting, steel manifold, or other rigid customer-owned pipe).
CSST bond wires or clamps shall ALWAYS be connected to: ***
- Customer piping — as close to the natural gas meter as practical.
- A CSST brass fitting, a customer-owned steel manifold or rigid pipe component connected to a CSST fitting.
- The electrical service grounding system. This connection may be made at either: the ground rod, the ground-wire running to the rod, or in the electric service-panel (also known as Circuit-Breaker Box or Panel).
*** Source: https://www.we-energies.com/outages_safety/using_energy_safely/CSST_policyreq.pdf
Locations Where CSST Gas Lines May Be Found
In many newer homes, all gas-lines are CSST. The lines are often located in the attic and in walls. Without a trip to the attic, a home owner might never know their home has CSST gas lines, or if they are properly bonded.
CSST Gas Lines Installed In A Home’s Attic.
Note: This CSST Installation Is Bonded. It’s the U-Shaped Copper Wire Between The Gas Manifold to its left & 3 gas lines on its right.
CSST Gas Lines Versus Flexible Appliance Connectors
There is a difference between CSST Gas Lines and the similar looking yellow Flexible Appliance Connectors (FAC). While both CSST and FAC are made with stainless steel & carry gas — that’s where their similarities end. CSST is a Gas-Distribution System. FAC is a short length of tubing designed to connect the gas-distribution pipe to the gas-burning device.
How To Identify FAC:
- It is between 1–6 feet long
- FAC are commonly found between the home’s gas-supply lines and the gas-burning equipment.
- FAC have a factory-installed connector on each end.
- FAC corrugation is highly visible. As compared, CSST is sheathed and the corrugation is not highly visible.
- FAC do not require bonding. This is because they are connected to a bonded (if properly installed) gas-distribution system.
Yellow Flexible Appliance Connector (FAC) Between Home’s Gas Supply & Furnace
FAC Between Home’s Gas Supply & Water Heater
FAC Between Home’s Gas Supply & Water Heater
The FAC allows for movement of this appliance without disconnecting the gas.
A Change To The Property Inspector’s Form In Texas
Effective September 1st, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) adopted a new Property Inspection Report Form (REI 7–5).
Language was added to the “Consumer Notice Concerning Hazards or Deficiencies” section of the form — to notify consumers of the potential hazards regarding lack of bonding on gas piping, including corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). This notice is found in the Property Inspection Report on page 2 of the preamble and TREC Form No. OP-I.
TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission) exists to safeguard the public interest and protect consumers of real estate services. In accord with state and federal laws, the agency oversees real estate brokerage, appraisal, inspection, home warranty, right-of-way services and timeshare interest providers. Through education, licensing and regulation, the agency ensures the availability of qualified and ethical service providers, thereby facilitating economic growth and opportunity across Texas.
The complete news article about this change can be seen here: TexasConsumerNews.com New Property Inspection Report Form
Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C makes repairs or replacements to residential gas lines. We can remove & replace sections of a leaking gas line, or the remove & repair the entire gas-distribution piping. Al’s bonds our new installations of CSST gas lines, if existing bonding is not visible. Al’s also provides every plumbing repair or replacement.
Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C also: maintains, repairs or replaces all brands of: Central Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps, and Gas & Electric Furnaces. Al’s sells installed new HVAC Systems from: American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (an American Standard company) and Coleman HVAC (made by the same company as York HVAC).
Call Al’s today with any concerns or problems you have with your home’s plumbing or HVAC System. We can often provide same-day service, or service at a time convenient for you. Al’s also has 24/7 Emergency Service.