Robert Lamoureux: Contractor versus handyman for gas line

Robert,

I am a property manager of an association that insists on using a handyman. I’m hoping that your reply in this column will help them to understand the importance of using the right contractor for the job, especially when safety is involved. They have a three-quarter-inch gas line that is feeding both the heater for the gym, as well as a hot water heater tank. They want to add a dryer this same feed line and though

I’m not a contractor, I’ve had personal experience with such an issue and I truly believe that this line needs to be increased so that all items connected to it will receive enough gas, if all running at the same time. I correlate it with trying to get enough water to three different fixtures, with a tiny little pipe.

Gas is the same, right? Can you please clarify if this concern is correct, why it is so and what can happen if it isn’t done correctly? A couple of the people on the Board disagree and feel that because all three won’t ever be run at the same time, it will be ok. I have to be sure that all concerns are cleared up so that I protect myself and my company, in case they move forward and do this anyway. Can this cause a fire?

Rita S.

Rita,

You are absolutely right with your thinking, on all aspects.

Contractors/inspectors never make calculations based on what may never happen. All calculations are based on assuming that the worst case scenario will happen, therefore these things are set up for success in the most difficult circumstances.

Even in this situation if 99.9 percent of the time not all three items are run at the same time, there is still that small percentage of chance that there will be a time that all three are operating at the same time, and the system needs to be sufficient to safely and adequately provide service to all.

If the line is starved, meaning if it is being asked to provide more gas than it is able, then you’ll get what we call “sooting.” This is a black discharge that is created from the service not running efficiently. If you get enough buildup of sooting then it acts like carbon and begins to stick within the interior of the appliance mechanics. In the right condition this will catch fire and create a very dangerous situation.

All appliances that require gas are to be utilized with a correct sized gas line that is in place for the size/qty/type of appliances that will be requiring gas from it. I would strongly urge that this board go to a licensed and insured plumber that will do the calculations on what will possibly be used (a good plumber will assume that all appliances will be used at once, and calculate for that situation), and will upgrade this line to one that will adequately service all.

Be sure that permits are pulled, and let the city inspectors come out to put their stamp of approval on it, that way everyone is that much more protected. They’ll do a standing test which is to cap both ends of the gas line, attach a gauge and then fill it up with about 17 lbs of pressure. This line will need to hold the pressure for about 24 hours, which will prove that the line is sealed and safe, with no leaks. The inspector will sign off and then it will be able to be connected fully.

Good luck to them, and to you in your job,

Robert

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.

This post was last modified on June 22, 2018, 3:56 pm

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