Gas line for Fireplace

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by The old college try, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    I'm hoping someone can tell me if homeowners can run their own gas lines within a house (from existing service) or if it's necessary to hire a licensed pro. My dad (in Canada) used to have an industrial gas ticket and would be a good resource for me, but he's not familiar with U.S. laws or codes. If it's not possible, who would be the best choice to hire (Plumber???) to have it run for the lowest cost. It would simply involve removing a 1/2" line that runs across my house to a gas range and replacing it with a larger line that could service both the range and a free standing gas fireplace. The gas line is exposed and runs along the basement ceiling, so it's easily accessed. Also, do I need to hire a licensed pro to install the fireplace or can I do that myself as well? Doesn't seem too complicated, but I want to go by the book.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    Messages:
    885
    Location:
    South of Boston, MA
    This may depend upon where you live
    It's been my experience that a licensed Pro is required
    At least in MA
    Where are you located?
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,009
    Location:
    New England
    There is no hard and fast rule, even within a single state. A licensed pro is usually required for commercial work and on multifamiliy homes or dwellings, but single family homes differ. Where I live, in a single familiy home, you can pull a permit and do gas work. Now, whether that is prudent or not is anohter issue altogether.

    Iron pipe is one thing, but some of the newer materials would allow you do to it with no intermediary connections, as the stuff comes in long rolls; but, you can't buy it without being certified and having a license.
  4. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    I'm in Michigan. I guess I'll do a little searching around.. maybe check with the Village inspector. Thanks for the replies.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    In most of California, and in some other states, homeowners ARE allowed to pull a permit and do plumbing work, including gas. The permit will cause an inspection at the end, but inspections do not always guarantee quality work. You are dealing with unfamiliar materials, even just the black pipe....you do not have all the tools, and unlike any other plumbing work you may have done, you will find you need larger wrenches. You will also need a test rig and a method to isolate and pressurize your piping for the inspection.

    We will answer your questions here, but do consider maybe having this one done by a licensed plumber.
  6. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    Don't forget that licensed plumbers are also insured should something go wrong. Your house is usually your biggest assest. If a plumber blows up your house, at least you get paid. If you do, well all you'll own is a pile of rubble. :eek:
  7. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    Understood. I have pipe wrenches, but not a pipe cutter or threader. I'd have to take pipe somewhere to have custom lengths threaded.. which is kind of a pain. I'm not set on doing it myself... I'm just like anyone else in this economy.. trying to save money if I can do it safely.
  8. shluffer

    shluffer New Member

    Messages:
    81
    Location:
    Connecticut
    If you test the pressure in the line when you are done, I can't see why you can't do it yourself. If you do, find out what the code is for these things and make sure you follow it. No shortcuts. Have someone who knows what they are doing cut and thread the pipes. If you think you can get this done but you aren't sure, hire someone. Remember you are runnning a gas line to an open flame. A leak in the wrong place would not be good.
  9. jimmyangst

    jimmyangst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    While gas has a dangerous aspect to it that water does not, the principles are the same. Further, natural gas (esp. as compared to LPG) has a very small flammability window; in other words, heat, moisture and O2 have to be at a very close ratio to ignite. Plus, unlike LPG, CNG rises & disperses very quickly. In the US at least, residential CNG moves through the line at ~7-10psi. Common sense would dictate that gases (any gases!) are more leak-prone than liquids. Considering that your water lines are 50-100PSI vs. 7-9psi CNG, that comparison is a moot point.

    My point is, as a fairly seasoned DIYer, as long as you measure, follow the laws of physics, test carefully and follow accepted code, there's no reason you shouldn't do your own gas lines, esp. since you can buy virtually any length of pipe pre-threaded at your local HD/ Lowes/ etc. Use a good light or get a helper if you're in a tough-to-access location (highly likely when running gas) Measure, note, measure again. Then buy more than what you need. Return what you don't need.

    Finally (others will disagree, probably) I refuse to use teflon tape on pipe (any pipe, gas, water or whiskey) In my experience it's more problematic than job-specific "pipe dope" (comes in a jar w/ a brush in the lid) Beware, some is for potable water (galvanized pipe) and some is for CNG (the topic of this post) I don't know whether one is backward compatible with the other, and with the cost of a big jar being >$10, I'll buy whatever's specific to my application.

    If you're doing a a CNG install, from a completely uninformed, uneducated and completely clueless DIYer, one thing I'd keep in mind is to put a trap in the line to catch various crap before it hits your appliance. When I recently installed a gas fireplace in my 1950s house, we used a compressor and blew out the (shutoff, disconnected) line and a metric assload(tm) of gaslinecrap(tm) came shooting out. Nasty stuff. Chunky. And it could cause problems for your new installation. Whether you DIY or hire it out, I'd strongly recommend you blast the line clear before spending money on any new gas appliances!

    ...and that's all I got to say about that...

    Jim B.
  10. jimmyangst

    jimmyangst New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    to run these appliances concurrently isn't a 1/2" line sufficient?!

    It would simply involve removing a 1/2" line that runs across my house to a gas range and replacing it with a larger line that could service both the range and a free standing gas fireplace.


    You might be best off just installing a T to service the fireplace, I doubt it will need a larger supply, but I'm not a plumber or even a pot-smokin h-vac guy!

    What's the max input on both devices? (I think input #s may be harder to find as everyone yaks about output BTU; difference may be important...) I strongly suspect your 1/2" line is enough to supply both quite adequately.

    J
  11. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    Thanks for the advice. I think my biggest concern at this point is testing. I will obviously have it inspected as required, but in order to do so I understand that I will probably need to test the pipe at 10 psi for 15 minutes or something like that. I read somewhere that this type of test can cause leaks in the old joints since gas normally runs at only about 0.5 psi. I understand that I will need to disconnect all appliances for testing, but will the shut off valves handle the 10 psi (or whatever pressure) needed for testing? My dad has done alot of work with gas connections in an industrial setting and had a gas ticket at one time so he can give me alot of guidance. Finally, can anyone tell me what code or guide to look to for sizing pipe? The 1/2" pipe that currently services my range will be replaced with a larger pipe (off of the 1" main) to service both the range and the new fireplace.
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Whatever your local code book is will have info, but most cities and codes actually invoke the National Fuel Gas Code, and that little book is not expensive, and is readily available at techincal bookstores, and the internet.
  13. bsperr

    bsperr Member

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Athens, GA
    You can also view the recent editions of the fuel gas code online at www.nfpa.org (look under "codes and standards") after setting up a free account.
  14. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    Isolating branch line for testing

    So, I've been reviewing the NFPA code book (thanks a ton, bsperr) and based on the line sizing tables it appears that my existing 1" line from the meter will be large enough for the addition of a fireplace (based on the new line being the longest run - assuming 1/2" w.c. pressure drop w/ less than 2 psi inlet pressure) and I will have to upsize the existing 1/2" line to 3/4" to service the existing range and the new fireplace. Testing requirements state that new branch lines must be pressure tested. I'm trying to figure out how to isolate the new line for testing without putting that pressure on the existing system. Can a new valve be placed at the start of the new line allowing it to be isolated, or is there risk of the valve leaking causing damage to the existing connected appliances? How do you guys isolate these branch lines for testing?
  15. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Note that not one single licensed plumber gave an answer to this thread. For the most part that is because we are diametrically opposed to any non trained and licensed person doing gas piping or gas appliance repair or service. That is because regardless of what you have just read above, natural gas is damn explosive and damn dangerous. You must weigh the lives and safety of yourself and your family with your desire to save money. Gas piping and service can't be lerned from a book or a video. It takes a few years of experiance under the supervision of a licensed professional to be proficient and safe.
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