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TonyS Member Posts: 849
Just started a new job where the house was burned down from CSST and a lightning strike.  House was built using steel pipe except they got lazy when any fitting had to be done, so they used CSST  whenever tying into an appliance with 6 foot tails. The tail to the gas fireplace was the culprit, the current jumped to the side of the fireplace and turned the CSST to swiss cheese and smoked 1/2 the house and unfortunately killing the woman's two dogs. The insurance company and the fire investigators removed the suspect CSST but never informed the woman of the impending lawsuits.

Its amazing how well the manufacturers have kept this thing hushed up. After I informed the woman of the open cases and how to do a google search she has now hired a lawyer.

If they would have finished the job in steel pipe or copper, they would probably be just replacing a couple of tvs ans a refrigerator, not half the house.


  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Homeowners insurance

    Funny they are not hot to trot to recoup their losses.

    How does this crap even stay on the market?
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,815
    Was it bonded?

    Or was it pre bonding days. kcopp
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,607
    edited August 2013

    Not defending the product nor condemning it .  Guys , this is an installer problem . The lawsuits are old and the manufacturers were pretty much covered . The manuals CLEARLY state that the product must be bonded continuous through appropriate means . This is not new and actually has been in the codes for quite some time . At what point did the Authorities Having Jurisdiction deem the " ALL portions of above ground gas piping shall be bonded " part of the NGC , IFGC not important enough to enforce .  Lightning strikes will happen and they will happen most of the time at the meter , this is where the protection should be . No gas piping should be subjected to current of that magnitude . Just a shell game , at what point does steel become too weak . I would say it was long before the appearance of CSST to market because that statement has been in the codes for a LONG TIME . Just sayin , installers need to know what they are using and how to use it .  Don' t know what rock some people were hiding under but this was a huge story that was nowhere near hidden from view to anyone in the industry .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Can someone explain about bonding, as practiced, with CSST matters?

    The installers of my boiler used a hunk of CSST to get across the ceiling of my garage to my boiler that is on the opposite side of the garage (inside) from the gas regulator and meter that are outside the garage. Before and after the CSST is black gas pipe. There was no explicit bonding and no explicit grounding of the CSST or any other gas pipe. (I think running CSST was stupid in the first place, since it could have been a straight run.)

    In particular, there was no electric conductivity through the gas meter to the ground. In fact, there was a dielectric union at the output of the meter to prevent it. When the boiler was installed, at least three different inspectors came. The yellow CSST was in plain sight, and none remarked that it was not code because no bonding and no grounding.

    I worried about that and got an electrician in to remedy the problem. He put in a ground stake and grounded the gas line there before it got to the dielectric union at the meter. Grounding through the meter would make little sense anyway, since there was only a little metal pipe in the ground. Most of the in-ground gas pipe around here is plastic pipe. But he said bonding was unnecessary for two reasons. First, the CSST was electrically connected to the black pipe that he had grounded at one end. Second, the approved bonding method is to use a ground clamp on the brass fitting at each end of the CSST, not clamping the the thing flex pipe. It seemed to him, and to me, that the brass fitting on the end would make a good connection to the black pipe unless they used both dope and Teflon in the fitting. And I do not think they used any Teflon in the gas pipe they installed (it may not be code around here, but I do not know).

    Why would bonding to the brass fitting at the end of the CSST to the grounded black pipe make any practical difference? It seems to me that the weak spot in the grounding is between the flex pipe of the CSST to the fitting itself.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Bonding of Gas Pipe is worth reading.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Thanks for the link. Very clear and helpful.

    But in my actual installation, a couple of the things contradict. Like bonding to the power panel, and keeping the bonding wire as short as possible. In my case, the bonding wire would be about 30 feet long. What my electrician did was put a ground clamp on the gas pipe where it first enters the house; i.e., on the customer side of the gas meter after their dielectric union, and run it about 2 feet to a newly installed ground stake. That keeps it short and grounded.

    As far as bonding is concerned, all the gas pipe is electrically connected through the threading of the various elbows, Ts, etc., but with no explicit bonding wires. At the boiler, almost all piping is soldered copper all the way to where the water line comes up through the garage floor, so it might be considered bonded. I do not know if there is an electrical connection between the gas piping of the boiler and the water piping of the boiler though. Lightning could easily get to ground by arcing through the electronics of the boiler of course, but that probably does not count.

    So if copper tubing soldered to more copper tubing is bonded (grounded, too, in my case), is black pipe connected to black pipe considered bonded? Otherwise, there would need to be a lot of bonds around every connection. And the last question is must the CSST be specifically bonded between its brass fittings and the black pipe at each end? Even if code requires it (and my installation does not have it), what guarantees that the flex part of theCSST is adequately bonded to the brass fitting at each end?
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 882
    CSST and litigation

    As for the woman being notified of any litigation involving CSST, that will come out when the insurance company subrogates against the installer. If the woman wants to sue the installer for reckless endangerment  and negligence she can discuss it with her attorney, whereupon that issue will likely be raised.

    While the lawsuit in Pa resulted in a jury finding CSST "defective" as a product category, there has since been a strong effort to mitigate this problem. First, the industry developed electrical bonding requirements which enough of the right experts think will solve the issue on the older stuff. Then mfrs. have been developing their own proprietary systems that incorporate an electrical bonding jacket which negates the need for bonding clamps and separate bonding wires back to the panel or an electrical grounding conductor (ground rod). The industry has spent a lot of money educating the contractors and suppliers on the need to retro-bond all their prior installations, which transfers liability to the installers.

    When a qualified contractor enters a structure where un-bonded CSST is present and they fail to properly notify the client in writing of the hazard and cure, they may take on some of the liability, even if they were not the installer of record. It's the same as servicing a boiler and not calling out the disconnected vent connector on the water heater.

    If you have a short run of CSST that is not close to any grounded mass that could have enough potential to draw an arc during a lightning strike then you might get a way without bonding but it still isn't legal. It would be a risk you're taking at the homeowner's expense. I agree it seems silly to run a separate #6 solid copper wire all the way back to the panel when you have nice thick steel or copper pipes nearby.

    One caution: Press-to-fit connectors such as Sharkbite act as dielectric unions so you would need bonding jumpers across each of these fittings if that copper tube is being used for bonding.

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Newly installed ground rod

    Must be bonded to the existing grounding electrode system.  How far from the gas meter is the electrical service entrance?
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849
    Pre bonding days

    I believe the house was built 2002 and if you look in the code book at that time bonding still wasnt required.
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849
    I think its great

    that these EXPERTS ....."THINK" it will work....Really! If I have to bet my business on it and maybe even my customers and their childrens lives on it, dont we at least deserve some kinda third party testing on the bonding "THEORY'  Oh wait thats right... this is the OLD CSST way way back from a few years ago. For me to go into a house and inform potential customers that it needs to be grounded is absolutely ridiculous considering there is no real third party testing to confirm this. That is what the case in Montgomery county was all about. I simply tell them it has to be replaced with professionally installed black steel pipe and that will greatly lower their chance of burning their house and family to a crisp. Unfortunately that's the truth!
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    How far from the gas meter is the electrical service entrance?

    I will assume you mean, how long would the wire be to get from the gas meter to the electrical service entrance . But even that is problematical. From the electrical service entrance, two heavy wires go to grounding points.

    One goes from the service entrance panel to where the water line enters the house. The water line is 3/4 inch copper tubing that goes a long way to the water meter at the street. That wire is insulated in black, and is about 17 feet long.

    The other one goes to two grounding stakes that should be just outside of where the inside power panel is. But that was impossible for various reasons. It goes elsewhere where there are two grounding stakes, one about 6 feet farther on from the first one. These are required by local code. That wire is insulated in green and is about 28 feet to the first ground stake and 34 feet to the second.

    The wire that would go from the gas meter to the service entrance panel would be about 25 feet long. So the total length from the meter to the service entrance to the water pipe would be 45 feet. and to the nearest ground stake (other than the one next to the meter) would be about 53 feet. Not ideal.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 882
    edited August 2013
    CSST vs. steel debate

    Tony, there have been more gas explosions with steel pipe systems than CSST. There has been more fugitive gas lost to the atmosphere by steel pipe than CSST. My point is, steel pipe is FAR from perfect and it has its drawbacks. For instance, only a few steel threaded joints are approved in concealed spaces while all CSST joints are, because they are listed.

    As for third party testing, do you have a link to reports on third party testing of steel pipe with regards to lightning protection? Copper tubing? Actually, there has been some testing but the energy levels far exceed the capabilities of ordinary test labs to reproduce consistently.

    We know copper tubing gets pierced, kinked, corrode, etc. and the flare fittings or illegal compression fittings leaks and occasionally cause fires but there is no media outcry over that product.

    Flexible polymeric water tubing was the subject of class action lawsuits many years back. It (PB) caused untold leaks, mold, water wastage, etc. It is back now in the form of PEX. Will we have a new round of failures? I'm sure. Same as the leaks in the PE gas tubing buried in the yard that gets cut when someone digs or trenches.

    Nothing is bullet proof including steel pipe. I repair far more steel pipe leaks, defects and improper fittings than CSST or copper combined. Leaking steel pipe joints inside appliance cabinets is a common source of furnace fires.

    Lightning protection is a riddle. Just when they think they've figured it out, it shows another face. Some have argued to install a lightning rod system in ALL structures, which should reduce the incidence of CSST blowouts to negligible Meanwhile, the mfr.s are reporting all cases of blowouts to the CPSC and to my knowledge there are none with the new types of tubing. So, do we order a nationwide purge of all CSST for a limited number of blowouts or leave it to the local jurisdictions to use the recall and new directives in their communities as they see fit? For instance, a community could require a "CSST inspection" prior to all real estate sales. That would flush out a lot. Of course, if you're concerned with saving lives, there are far more serious inspections I could recommend such as a Level II inspection of any chimney or venting or weeding out Federal Pacific breaker panels for ex. Those inspections will save not just buildings but a lot more lives or prevent a lot of CO poisonings. So, which is more important? It's a numbers game and right now the numbers say they CSST blowout problem is getting better. You are more than welcome to sell jobs replacing CSST with steel but please just stick to facts and leave the hysteria to the media.In the Montgomery Co. case where the CSST grounded to the appliance cabinet, I'll bet there was not the required protection. CSST must be protected by a grommet of some sort for physicial protection from the sheetmetal and to be electrically insulated. If that is missing, then it is a failure of the installer and inspector but not the product per se.
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849
    You know what honest people do Bob

    They admit they have a problem and try to make it right.

    First they have to come up with a solution and get that solution UL approved.

    Second they do everything in their power to let people who may have this stuff installed in their house become aware of this recall.

    Third they pay qualified installers to go to each house and apply the fix at no cost to the customer. They pay the installer.

    Ive seen the manufacturers of Plex vent and Ultravent step up to the plate and make it right.

    Ive seen firearm manufacturers step up and do the right thing.

    Automobile manufacturers do it all the time.

    i know a JAG lawyer who tried to sell her house, the inspector wouldnt pass it because there was no bonding on the csst, she reviewed the codes of the period when the house was built and found there was no bonding requirement, The csst company paid to have the piping bonded. Funny how that worked!

    Here is a good article...

    If your an installer and this stuff goes get ready to be dragged to the party. Dont think what you saved on a few hours work will pay your lawyer bill!

    I love how the CSST people start pointing fingers at all the other piping products, always a sign of a desperate man. I mean really, using your approach to this the CSST in no more a culprit in this than if this woman's dogs would have been standing in the yard and got hit by lighting, que sera sera. Interestingly in this house 90% of the house was black steel only 6 foot tails were used in csst. The Black pipe is still fine.

    Sorry Bob I do my best to install quality products from companies that stand behind their products, not dirtbag corporations who only look at the bottom line. I mean lets get real here, we are not talking about a faulty lav faucet here or a dripping ballcock. Customers lives are at stake here, dont they at least have the decentcy to notify them?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    The debate

    Or is it? So far I think Tony has the argument.

    Manufactures of many other defective products in all spectrums of consumer products make it right like Tony says.

    Is there any statistics from the orient where this stuff originated from when it hit the states back in 89 ish?
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 882
    the debate rages on

    First of all, I have no direct interest in CSST except that I have used it, along with steel pipe and copper tubing. My objective here is simply to infuse a sense of parity and objectivity, which seems lacking. Tony, I appreciate your zeal to provide the best possible choice for your clients. I am also big on informing my clients so they can make an informed decision.

    Steel pipe is presented by you as bullet proof, which it certainly is not. It's use has resulted in some massive fires in seismic zones for example. CSST was developed in Japan expressly to address that concern. CSST is just like most products to date: they perform very well when installed to the listed instructions. In fact, there are no documented losses where CSST was properly bonded according to this link:

    If you go onto that site and look at the comparison btw CSST and steel, you'll see a few points about steel that make it less attractive than it maybe once was: no inspections or mfg. stds. where most pipe is being made, same for threads being cut at factories, , etc.

    I do consulting for products liability litigation so I was just offering an opposing view for consideration. I have no side in this debate. You are arguing CSST is a defective product, which comes under "strict liability", which is the hardest to prove. The most common source of successful litigation arising out of construction losses is negligence by the installer with failure to warn a close and gaining second. That tells me we have a much bigger problem with the people than the product.

  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849
    CSST safety questioned

    Read the part "CSST safety questioned"
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849
    Problems with people

    not the product.

    Im glad to see the manufacturers have taken the proper steps to see their tubing doesn't fall into the wrong hands!
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Intersystem bonding

    is a key component of both lightning protection and occupant safety.  Separate ground rods will not prevent the rise in potential induced by nearby lightning (never mind a direct hit.)  Your rigid gas pipe should be bonded to the electrical system at some point, even if it's at the other side of the building from the gas meter.  On a new install, the ground rods would have to be tied together using wire, but pipe is better than nothing.

    I'd be a little concerned about that section of CSST, but a good solid ground on the boiler should mitigate the risk.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 882
    demonization and fearmongering

    Tony, I can see how passionately you feel about this issue but by using your link I want to show you how you are adding to the fear mongering and demonization of this product:

    "it has been alleged that even if all mechanical and electrical systems

    of the property are properly bonded, there is still an opportunity for a

    CSST lightning-induced fire."  The key word there is "alleged". Not proven but alleged. If we shut down everything with alleged defects we'd be literally back into the Stone Age.

    The litigation in question is re-hashing old ground. I see no new evidence offered that the new bonding requirements or the new Counter Strike and Flashshield -type systems are failing. In fact, the evidence I've seen shows exactly the opposite. In order to recall a product from the market, the CPSC must show substantial evidence that the product is defective and as designed, the product is the proximate cause of the losses. Since the industry began with their bonding requirements and these new systems, I'm not aware of any more losses with properly installed systems.

    As for who is selling this product, it is a free market but a local municipality could restrict its use if they voted it in as an enforceable ordinance. Personally, I don't think it should be sold to the public but then again, I think the public buying gas water heaters and installing them DIY has resulted in far more illness and losses. Same for electrical wiring. Are you calling for them to outlaw Romex to all but licensed electricians? This is where such fear mongering and demonization goes very quickly.

    I have spoken with Ted Lemoff at the NFPA 54 about products liability and he assured me if a product was proven to be defective in a certain application, they would prohibit it in the code. Moreover, the ICC , IAPMO and other agencies would ban it as they have other products. Honestly, the some 140 odd fires over the last 10 years is not as statistically significant as you might think.

    Since you feel so strongly against this product category, I suggest you appear before the MD Home Improvement Commission, the MD Home Builder registration Unit and the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office which is part of the MD State Police. You can also talk to the inspectors at WSSC about their inspection procedures, permits, testing and approvals.

    If there is a loss at a home where there should have been a permit and inspection, it incurs additional trouble for the builder and/ or mechanical contractor. If the work was done by one not authorized to so such work in that jurisdiction in MD there may be criminal penalties against the contractor. In general, there are several steps where things had to have gone wrong for such a loss to occur. The individual loss will be paid by the insurer then in subrogation, the facts of the case will come out. Until then I would caution that is is improper and foolish to assume or imply anything in that case.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Separate ground rods will not prevent the rise in potential

    I absolutely agree with you. In my view all ground rods, if there are to be more than one, should be very closely placed. And this is not the case in my house.

    1.) There is the main service entrance, and it is grounded in three (or maybe two, depending on how you count them). That grounding is supposed to be very close to the panel, and as I said earlier, it is by no means close.

    2.) There is the black pipe and CSST from the meter to the boiler. It was not grounded anywhere. Due to my concerns, I got my heating contractor (not the installing contractor) to do something about this, and he grounded the black-pipe gas pipe very near the meter to its own ground rod. Perhaps that is an improvement. But there is no explicit bonding at the ends of the CSST. The electrician said the connection was made through the brass fittings at the ends of the CSST. Well an ohmmeter says there is electrical connectivity, but when dealing with lightning ... . And the installation instructions say to bond to the brass fittings, not the flex tube itself. So it seems to me that even the manufacturer's instructions are not good enough. But I sure would not trust the electricians around here to make a suitable connection to the flex-tube part.

    3.) Far away on yet another side of my house is the grounding for the telephone stuff.

    Now at the end of the CSST furthest from the gas meter and nearest to the boiler, there is no bonding either. It switches back to black-pipe and goes into the boiler, from which it makes its way to the blower-carburettor thing and then into the burner that is inside the heat exchanger. So if there is good conductivity through there, it will get grounded to the cold water supply in the house (all copper) all the way to the water pipe that enters the house. And that pipe is copper all the way out to the water meter.

    I may get away with this. The electrical inspector, the gas inspector, and the plumbing inspector had no problem with any of this, even with no bonding and no grounding. It sure does not give me confidence.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    I would make sure

    they are bonded to each other, even if only via the water or gas pipe systems.  Your phone line is a prime candidate for lightning energy ingress, though the telephone companies generally do a decent job of protecting their networks.  I regularly see fried computers, routers, and more thanks to disconnected or nonexistent Cable TV and telephone ground wires.
  • george_42
    george_42 Member Posts: 98
    csst in mexico

    I don`t know what all the worry is about using csst , a friend went to Mexico several years ago on a missionary trip and they were using clear tygon tubing and hose clamps for gas piping and Mexico is still there.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    I'm Sure

    Anything goes down there. If there was a failure it would probably never be investigated to the point of origin.

    Then again Tygon tubing is not a conductor, and this is where the issues are with ALL types of metallic gas piping. Making bonding necessary.
  • TonyS
    TonyS Member Posts: 849

    is a different story, I have lived in Vera Cruz in a small fully detached home for a year. I also lived in an apartment in Cozumel for a year. I married a Mexican girl who was bilingual and I had taken spanish for 3 years as an adult ( I could speak good enough just to get me in trouble)

    Construction in Mexico is almost all cement including the roof. Electrical fires are almost non existent and believe me...its not because they practice good electrical codes.

    Very few homes have air conditioning, although ductless is becoming popular. Because the homes have no insulation, a/c is usually kept to one room.  Most homes have no windows. Iron bars take their place, you would think this would be dangerous in a fire, and here it would but there.... not much to burn, a few pieces of wicker furniture and maybe a mattress, many still sleep in a hammock. The gas guy comes down the street every day banging on a tank of propane in the back of the truck. You just go outside and wave him down and he switches out your tank. I believe we were burning butane in Vera Cruz because the temperature was hot enough all year around for vaporization( Technical spanish is a whole other ball game so im not sure) The funny part is every Mexican housewife knows how to mix liquid soap with water and test the joints. Not for safety but because they dont want their propane being lost. Anyway if there was a leak, the houses are so well ventilated it would never build up.
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