Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Replacing Propane Cu Piping

Patchogue Phil_2
Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 304
Copper piping at Mom's house from above ground propane tanks that leads into the

basement has a leak.  I haven't seen it yet,  but supposedly no smells

in basement and the start-up of water heater nor boiler have <strong><span style="text-decoration:underline;">NOT</span></strong> blown up

the house.  Tanks are shut off by valve on tanks.  The leak seems to be

contained solely outside.

Unfortunate is that the leak probably has been going on since Fall. 

Fuel consumption for the last year has been a lot especially for a mild


I thought the delivery process is supposed to be that connections are checked for leaks at each delivery???

Anywho ....   is code still allowing copper coiled piping for propane? 

Or will the pipes be replaced with black iron?  Or maybe even the

flexible corrugated & coated yellow tubing (gastite a brand


BTW,  location is Long Island NY


  • Patchogue Phil_2
    Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 304

    .....anyone... ?   anyone ....?     Buehler .... ?    Buehler .... ?

    I know it's Monday morning,  was hoping someone had an answer.

  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,580
    Copper is fine

    check with your local propane dealer for alternatives. Now is this the pipe coming from the tank? Is this system a single regulator or does it have one at the tank and one at the house? That would be waht is called 1st stage at tank 2nd stage at the house. The pipe from 1st stage to second stage is a 10 pound pressure line so it must be a special coated copper. From the 2nd stage to appliances copper is fine.
  • Patchogue Phil_2
    Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 304
    edited June 2012

    The 3 x 300lb [ooops! 100lb ] tanks are connected together with tees and Cu tubing that looks like 1/4 inch.  The last tank has the tee connected to a single regulator.  The output of the regulator is 1/2"  OD Cu tubing which then enters the house.  It is this 1/2" OD tubing that had the leak.

    The tubing had a kink in it,  and the leak was in that kink.  probably kinked when the tanks were replaced recently.

    You can see the hole in the pic here.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    edited June 2012
    No nose, no ears?

    One would THINK that they delivery people MIGHT smell the escaping LP upon arrival or heard it. One would also think that the supplier MIGHT have noticed the significant increase in consumption and said something to someone.

    Good thing the leak wasn't inside the dwelling, or the ending could have been much worse....

    A compression coupling will fix that hole.


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Patchogue Phil_2
    Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 304
    How long has this been going on?

    Like the old song,  how long has this been going on?

    No idea.   You'd think that 168 liquid gallons (from delivery in March) would escape quickly in a hole that large.  Perhaps it started out slow and then recently eroded to a large hole.

    Also,  not sure if the delivery guy was poking at it.  Seems like a large hole doesn't it????

    Delivery guys cannot smell gas anymore.  They get so used to it they don't smell it.

    I am guessing that the hole got larger recently.  It was cold in march april and may - fuel would have been long gone with such a large hole.

    The cu pipe was repaired with a flare coupler.

    Thanks for replying.  :-)
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    No compression on LP.

    Mark, compression fittings are not allowed on LP. Flare only on soft copper.

    I agree. Tell the delivery company about it and they will fix it. If it is at the tank piping, they will should take care of it.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    That's interesting...

    I don't really work on LP other than my own systems in the mountains, and I have seen the flare snap off right at the base of the flare. I've never had any issues with a compression fitting tho...

    Which code is that in? NFC, NFPA, IMC, UMC?

    Still (always) learning.


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Patchogue Phil_2
    Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 304
    not company piping

    Since the cu piping in question is *after* the company regulator and this pipe goes into the house,  it's not their responsibility.

    Although,  I cannot prove it but I figure the kink happened when the tanks were replaced last Spring by the company. 

    Weird though,  I cannot figure how the hole got so large.  The hole was on the underside of the pipe which was 12 or 14 inches above the ground.  The hole looks like something pointy pierced it. 
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    something pointy pierced it. Reply

    A rodent sharpening its teeth?

    AT&T used top have problems with buried long-distance telephone cables. They tried everything, including wrapping them with armored steel tape. It did not help. It is not as though the cables tasted good or anything. They finally solved it by making the cables much larger diameter so the varmints could not get a good grip on them.
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    I learn something new everyday too.

    NFPA 58 5.9.4 states that all metallic pipe fittings be rated for 125 PSI.  Copper compression fittings do not meet that standard.  (Or so I have been told.)

    NFPA 54 lists only brazing and flaring as acceptable joining methods.

    Lord knows, that I could be wrong, but up here it is flare only on gas. 
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840

    are SO over rated.... ;-)


    Looks like it meets and exceeds the NF requirements, but maybe just this one.

    Guess I'd better go find my flaring tool. Need to move the tank in the mountains.


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 969
    copper tubing for gas

    Copper tubing is allowed if the gas contains less than 0.3 grains of hydrogen sulphide per 100 cubic feet. As the utility or provider. If there was no leak for years prior but there is now and suddenly there is a documented unexplained increase in fuel then look to what has changed. If the only change is them changing cylinders then they obviously damaged it. Also, when they swap cylinders, they should treat it as a new install and inspect the lines then perform leak checks. If the kink didn't leak at the time of swapout, then inspect the stability of the cylinders and fuel line. Tim, do you have a reference for requiring coated copper tubing on high pressure lines? I do not see this in the code but only the acceptance of ASTM B-88 types K or L or ASTM B-280 AC/R. Compression fittings not approved per IRC G2414.10--use flares. CSST is allowed for the low pressure lines downstream from the second stage regulator when installed per the listing. Always check with local building dept. for local ordinances, requirements and inspections in addition to the building and fire codes.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,580
    Bob I do not have

    it handy but will check it out in the manufacturers specifications and it may also be in NFPA 58 as the NFPA 54 only covers after the second stage regulator..

    Tim, do you have a reference for requiring coated copper tubing on high pressure lines? I do not see this in the code but only the acceptance of ASTM B-88 types K or L or ASTM B-280 AC/R. Compression fittings not approved per IRC G2414.10--use flares. CSST is allowed for the low pressure lines downstream from the second stage regulator when installed per the listing. Always check with local building dept. for local ordinances, requirements and inspections in addition to the building and fire codes

    Bob is there any other reference as to using flare fittings versus compression on LP gas?. I used to have a code reference written down for that but can't seem to find it.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    What about CSST?

    What kind of connection is THAT? Seems like a combination flare/compression fitting.


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,111

    That is part of an "approved" or "listed" system. The magic words that make us sleep comfortably knowing that some higher power has decreed it so.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    I'm guessing...

    that "near lightning strikes" are not currently a part and parcel of the approval process, because if it were, they (csst) would not be allowed....

    Every time there is a lightning storm, I have nightmares about swiss cheese csst... Not much comfort in that ;-(


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503

    Off topic: Doesn't the company Omega claim to be a lightening-proof form of csst?
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 969
    gas piping flare vs compression fittings code reference


    2009 IRC G2414.10.2 (403.10.2) Tubing joints. Tubing joints shall be made with approved gas tubing fittings or be brazed with a material having a melthing point ub excess of 1,000F (538C) or made with press-connect fittings complying with ANSI LC-4 Brazing alloys shall not contain more than 0.05-percent phosphorous.

    G2414.10.3 Flared joints. Flared joints shall be used only in systems constructed from nonferrous pipe and tubing where experience or tests have demonstrated that the joint is suitable for the conditions and wehre provisions are made in the design to prevent separation of the joints.

    Your AHJ can approve or disapproved fittings but he *should* rely on testing reports from an approved testing lab or service.

  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,580
    Here is how it was

    explained to me a long time ago.

    When you flare you do not alter the integrity of the tubing therefore under stress (not gas pressure) a flare fitting will handle ten times the stress a compression fitting will handle. The reason is that the compression fitting uses a ferrule which is not actually a part of the tubing and under sufficient stress (not gas pressure) it will pull apart.

    As for "listed" that means that some testing agency has tested the material and finds that under the require criteria it passed the ANSI or any other standards test requirements.

    As for lightening I have seen black pipe, copper tubing, aluminum tubing and others when contacted by lightening have a hole blown through the pipe or tubing nothing is really safe.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited July 2012
    Lightning Strikes:

    Or I will add to what Tim said:

    Nothing is safe where lightning is concerned.

    I have personal experience where the "up-strike"  ( first it most come down) came through the ground and blew a hole THROUGH a 4" PVC well casing. Entered the electrical cables and went up the pipe to the PS-104 pressure switch with "a lightning arrestor on it) and blew up the arrerstor and the cover off the switch. It also came through the foundation through the phone wires and sprayed molten copper all over the panel and plywood that the wires were attached to. Then, it traveled through the house and came out in an office over the garage where it went through a floor lamp from the bottom and out of the top. It then went through the ceiling at the gable end and blew the wood shingles UPWARDS and went back to the cloud from where it came from. The owner was sitting in a chair next to the lamp when it happened.

    The pump motor was destroyed. When I tried to pull the pump, sand had run through the hole in the PVC casing and jammed the pump in the casing. It required a new well and a pump.

    I lived across the street from this house. I was hit twice in 6 weeks. I had a lightning suppression system installed and was never hit again. My neighbors were hit every time there was a bad lightning storm.

    There is no such thing as too much earth grounding in a house.

    Where I work, it is common in lightning storms for PVC well casings to have holes blown in them and allowing sand in to the well from the outside.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Electricity can do a lot: lightning not required.

    My local railroad has electrified track to power its electric locomotives.

    10 or more years ago, there was a little accident.

    At the time the overhead catenary system was powered with 12,500 volt, 60 cycle power. The circuit breakers were set at 1,500 amperes. This is far less than a lightning strike. (The voltage has since been increased to 25,000 volts, I am told.)

    Anyhow, near me someone drove a car into a crossing gate as a train was approaching. Those gates are rectangular aluminum extrusions.  On top of them are three red lights. The accident caused the gate to move too close to the center of the track, so when the train left, the gate went up and hit the catenary system.

    This melted the gate, and some of the power went to the bungalow where the electrical system for the signals and the crossing gates were located. This equipment is mostly vital-circuit electromechanical relays. The contacts are graphite impregnated with silver. The relay is inside a plastic box so that dirt and insects do not get in, but transparent, so it can be inspected without taking it all apart.

    After the accident, some of the contacts evaporated, so the formerly transparent plastic boxes were now shiny mirrors. 12,500 volts at 1,500 amps is already a big problem, and it is way less than lightning.
  • Patchogue Phil_2
    Patchogue Phil_2 Member Posts: 304
    Ground-to-cloud must be scary

    Ground-to-cloud lightning

    Ground-to-cloud lightning is a lightning discharge between the ground

    and a cumulonimbus cloud initiated by an upward-moving leader stroke.

    This type of lightning forms when negatively charged ions called the

    stepped leader rise up from the ground and meet the positively charged

    ions in a cumulonimbus cloud. Then, the strike goes back to the ground

    as the return stroke. This is also called positive lightning.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265


    It is my understanding that lightning theory is an ever evolving subject.

    But, which ever way the lightning travels, up or down, it must reverse itself. If the strike is from a cloud to ground, after it hits the ground, there will be a secondary up-strike with multiple returns. There are positive and negative charged ions. There are both positive and negative ions in a cloud and in the ground. These charges can "gather" as they move around in the clouds and in the earth. If there is a positive charge in the earth and a negative charge in the earth, and one charge is much greater than the other, things happen. Mother Nature likes fairness and will make things right. The discharge is the equilibrium. The "bolt" comes when the charge must build up and overcome the resistance of whatever it has to travel through. The higher the resistance, the greater the flow and charge. "Air Terminals" AKA Lightning Rods, cause the charge to bleed off. There is a principle in physics about if you discharge an electrical charge from a flat plate, the charge has to go higher and higher until the charge becomes unstable and initiates flow. with a BIG bang. But, if it is a pointed rod, there is very little space at the point of the rod for the charge to build up so flow is quickly established. That's how a lightning system is designed for a building. Ground rods are driven at each corner of the building and air terminals are set on the roof. The terminals must be 12" to 18" from a gable end, not on the end. The conductors must flow down and no "traps" where the charge would need to reverse or radically change direction. Turns must be gradual and not sharp because lightning doesn't like to change direction.

    My former house was hit twice in 6 weeks. What saved me a lot was that I had a 2" galvanized driven well in my cellar way that I had connected the electrical ground system to along with the required ground rods. After each strike, the water was rusty from the strike. After a suppression system, I was never hit again.

    Upon more thought on the hole in the copper gas line, that well could be a lightning strike. It does really strange things. We had a 12 stall barn on the property with an indoor riding arena, 60' X 200'. A strike went through the barn, it had a metal roof. We had two 4' X 8' Acrylic mirrors on the wall. After the strike, one of the mirrors had marks running through the silver on the back of the plastic where the charge had run along the silver.

    I was once hit while under a house, putting a pump back on a well. There was lightning in the area but not raining. The lightning must have hit a primary neutral somewhere and was grounding through the whole electrical distribution system. I saw the flash while under the house, instantly heard the thunder, and instantly felt it go through my arm below my shoulder, down my arm and through my fingers where I was holding on to the well connection. The strike came out of the bonded well tank that I had pushed out of the way.

    In properly designed lightning suppression systems, you are even supposed to bond the garage door tracks to the system to stop any flash-over situations. If it's metal.t must be bonded. It has a way of finding a weak link in the system.

    For what it is worth.
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Brass fittings for propane piping

    If my memory serves correctly, years ago, we had the option to use Swaglock compression fittings on copper tubing for gas / propane. I always used flares because they were always available at the supply house (and cheaper). Does anyone else recall this?

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited July 2012

    Is indeed tricky stuff, but we can all learn from the century of experience our communications and power distribution industries have under their belts.  Quality grounding is paramount, and literally everything metallic is bonded together and into the grounding electrode system -- at multiple points.  If you ever get the chance to tour an electrical substation or a communications site that has a tower, ask them how they deal with lightning.  It's quite informative.

    For anyone interested in learning more, an excellent tutorial and reference is available free (courtesy of the US Army) http://armypubs.army.mil/eng/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/tm5_690.pdf

    NFPA 780 is the 'official' standard, but few jurisdictions actively enforce it.  The Army manual covers both the theory and the practice quite well.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 969
    engineering vs lightning?

    The forces involved in lightning strikes cannot be reliably measured or replicated based upon varying conditions to produce a reasonable degree of repeatability and thus reliability. Therefore, we are left to base decisions primarily upon anecdotal evidence and opions. Given the current state of alarmism in the country, it is more stylish to make a big public spectacle over the 'epidemic' problem of lightning vs. CSST. Meanwhile, more people get killed by bath tubs than lightning striking homes but where's the public outcry against those evil tubs? We do not have an obligation, moral or otherwise, to design and construct against any possible threat conceivable by Gene Roddenberry or to the ANSI Std for Superman's cape. We have an obligation to design and build to what are the conditions of use that can reasonably be expected. It is reasonable to expect a few homes to suffer a major house fire but is it reasonable to require fire sprinklers, with all their complications, for every residential unit? That debate rages on but the hysteria surrounding the evils of CSST just grows. Meanwhile, the copper tubing, iron pipe and polymeric tubing guys are sitting by very quiet hoping not to get noticed. A NASA scientist who worked on the issue of lightning vs spacecraft noted the better bonded, the higher the probability for a lightning strike. The panic over CSST and lightning has us improving the bonding of these systems with no reliable way to replicate to a reasonable degree of engineering certainty the anticipated conditions of use or probability of a hit or measure the strike potential. Personally, I'm more worried about the laceration hazard from rocks thrown by lawn mowers through the proposed all glass houses of the future....
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    Lightning versus CssT


    Having been personally exposed to the dangers of "Near lightning" strikes, and its effect on CSST, I can tell you that it is much more serious than people would like to have us believe.

    Unfortunately, I am so embroiled in a current ongoing case that I can not tell you publicly what I know, but I can tell you that regardless of the degree of bonding, it is STILL subject to being turned to swiss cheese and auto-ignition.

    The ONLY viable solution that I can see is for someone to come out with a near lightning strike detector that can be interfaced with current off shelf gas solenoid valves (think propane snuffers/shut off devices) that if triggered, would require a visit from a qualified technician to verify tubing integrity before resetting the solenoid gas valve.

    I respect your opinion and look forward to reading your posts, but I didn't want anyone reading this to think its no big deal. If you or your customers have unbonded csst tubing in their house, fire coverage from their insurance company may be in jeopardy. If it is properly bonded, and still has issues, the HO insurance will cover it.

    In my 36 years of field experience, I have never heard of copper or black iron systems suffering vessel integrity failure from a NEAR lighting strike. Can not say the same for the corrugated alternative...

    PS, There are U.L. approved lightning replication laboratories that are used in testing and diagnosing materials subjected to lightning strikes.


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 969

    Mark, I hold you in the higest regard as does the industry and I respect what you have said and don't disagree. I did not mean to come across as flippant but merely to counter a little of the hysteria I see over CSST. Sure, there have been and will continue to be failures. Yes, there are newer versions claiming to be more 'resistant' than the first generation. Sure, there are testing labs and listing stds. However, inspite of all that engineering we still cannot replicate certain types of lightning phenomena. We still don't know enough to predictably replicate it in the lab through various iterations of potentials and bonding.

    I have seen copper tube fail and not just from lightning. When you have a structure fire from any ignition source, it tends to kink then fail and discharge with a similar result as a CSST lightning incident. Sch40 steel softens under fire load then fails at threads. A lot of it comes down to the question of would the house have been lost due to the lightning strike whether gas was supplied  or not and if so, would the gas piping really make that much difference? In some cases, it sure would while in other cases not necessarily.

    My other point is to compare the CSST-related losses to non-CSST related ones to see the statistical correlation. If we want to save lives and protect people from our homes killing us, I can give us a few places to look starting with combustion venting WRT carbon monoxide and unfriendly fires. Keep up the good work Mark!
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840

    One of these days, I will be able to relate my personal experience for all to see. In the mean time, I agree with you regarding CO loss of life. It is absolutely preventable, and it should be federal law.

    You too keep up the good work.


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    Close call with CSST just yesterday

     Occupants started smelling gas after lightning struck very close by....one inch CSST had a burn hole maybe 1/16 th inch diameter right where it was touching an old steel heat pipe. At the same time the boiler pilot valve stuck open with the pilot out.....nearby was the water heater, still lit. Gas co. turned off the gas, red-tagged it, and left. If nobody was home to smell the gas it coulda blown! PS It wasn't bonded, I don't know about the grounding in this place, it's 50's type construction. Never was impressed with CSST. 
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Religious CSST

    I went on a service call to fix a leaking backflow. I had never been to this house before. It was a building that had been converted to 6 Condo's. As soon as I walked in the door, leading to the utility room, I was overwhemed by what was either a dead animal or Mercaptan.gas odorant. I got out my CO detector and no CO. I borrowed a gas leak detector and found gas. I traced it to a gas leak in an unventilated crawl space. There was a light switch for the crawl space which I chose to not try. I called the gas service provider, LPG. I/We found that a CSST line had been run over an old steel I-beam and ground vibration had worn through the plastic covering and through the tubing. They had been smelling the dead animal for three years and couldn't find it. And had learned to live with it. Had the light been turned on, it could have blown the back of the house off.

    They were extremely appreciative of my find. A few months later, I saw their old plumber there.

    So much for appreciation

    If the CSST was resting on a steel beam, it may have been there for quite some time. The CSST that I have seen that had lightning damage had burn marks in the plastic covering.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,580
    Bob, the only thing I came

    up with was NFPA  58 2011 Section 5.9.3 describes material standards that copper pipe and tubing must meet in order to be used from 1st stage regulator to second stage regulator

    Section 6.9.3 addresses the installation requirements for pipe and tubing.

    For more info contact Bruce Swiecicki, P.E., Senior Technical Adviser National Propane Gas Association 815-806-9035 [email protected]

    Also Steve WasylyK Marketing Manager Wholesale Products, Great Lakes Copper, Inc. 519-951-3410 www.kamcoproducts.com or [email protected]
This discussion has been closed.