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Columbia Gas Over Pressurization Incident in MA

This from the North Andover town manager:
"In my professional opinion and the professional opinion of the North Andover Fire Chief, all residential gas appliances, including boilers and furnaces, that were impacted by the gas overpressurization of September 13, 2018 should be replaced not repaired.”

There are over 8000 homes affected. None have heat and there is no way on earth 8000 boilers are getting installed this winter. What a disaster! And what an opportunity for scammers. This is going to get really ugly.


New England SteamWorks
Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
newenglandsteamworks.com
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Comments

  • DistanceDistance Posts: 6Member
    Very ugly situation
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,290Member
    The suggestion elsewhere here that propane, as a temporary fuel be installed, and used until the new gas lines are in would seem to have real merit here.
    Can it be true that so many heating appliances need to be replaced?—NBC
  • ratioratio Posts: 1,566Member
    It's standard CYA. All it takes is one bad result & the lawyers would have another pocket to reach into. I'm sure legal depts throughout that area have sent down orders to the effect that the only thing to do is replace everything.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 2,150Member
    Anyone switching to heating oil?
    steve
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,295Member
    Who's paying for this?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Posts: 1,108Member
    Columbia Gas


    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Posts: 1,108Member
    Every gas appliance red tagged:





    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • DZoroDZoro Posts: 362Member
    WOW,,,, for those who get new systems installed is there going to be gas available for them, or does Columbia Gas have to run all new undergrounds first?

    Can you say bankruptcy. Oh boy.
    Huge disaster, huge mess.

  • leonzleonz Posts: 274Member
    Thinking out load here as its it is going to be cold soon in Andover;

    I wonder if it would be worth investigating setting up district wide heating areas and using an All Canadian Heater to heat hot water to heat these homes using the addresses where the existing homes were totally destroyed by the gas explosions for the coal stoker boiler, coal and ash storage and hot water storage tanks in an enclosed metal building?

    They would be able to run two pipe 1 1/4 inch pex tubing pex all pex tubing with the thick carcass to deliver hot water heat to each home for a long ways and use the same hot water to heat a hot water tank with a heat exchanger and have a common cold return line back to the coal stoker boiler to reheat the water.

    They do need heat;
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Posts: 1,108Member
    DZoro said:

    WOW,,,, for those who get new systems installed is there going to be gas available for them, or does Columbia Gas have to run all new undergrounds first?

    Can you say bankruptcy. Oh boy.
    Huge disaster, huge mess.

    They are running all new gas lines right now. As you might guess, -no time table for completion.

    It's been an unusually warm autumn thus far in New England. Normally, folks need heat by October 1st. So far, not yet. So everyone has been quiet.

    Just waiting for the first cold day. All hell is going to break loose. They are also putting people up in hotels, which has driven the hotel rates up through the roof. -Which means we can't afford to work up there on big jobs now (outside of the affect area).


    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Posts: 1,108Member

    Anyone switching to heating oil?


    Obviously, there is a potential for a fortune to be made here. Proactive homeowners are already calling to have their boilers replaced. It will be a tsunami soon once cold and reality hits. I am just imagining the scenario though, where we install the boiler, but they still have no gas and so we can't fire it up to test and tune, -but we have to ask for a check.

    My gut instinct is to steer a wide birth of this mess. I am thinking of offering oil conversions, -or staying out of it. Lord knows we are busy enough...

    But the calls are heart-wrenching now, and it's not even cold...


    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Posts: 1,108Member
    Right now everyone is realizing they need new equipment, and they know they don't have to pay. So far, so good. It's still warm. What they don't yet realize is that there is neither the inventory, nor the manpower to do all these installs. That shoe has yet to drop.


    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,187Member
    They had said 2 months for the gas lines. Don't know if they are still on track.

    I wouldn't by any stock in NI-Source the owner of Columbia gas LOL

    If Columbia still exists after this it will be proof of utility gouging.

    All these gas utilities with 100 year old piping in the ground.

    WHY??
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,809Member
    "All these gas utilities with 100 year old piping in the ground.
    WHY??"

    For decades the gas utilities in this are were true public utilities, the gas was dirt cheap and the only things that ever got fixed was "that what broke."

    A few decades back the utilities were sold off to private companies, utility bills quickly rose and the bulk of the money went to the executive suite. The state is beginning to mandate pipe replacement but all was to be done with price increases to cover the work.

    Now Columbia got their tit caught in the wringer and there is hell to pay. They will be footing the bill for all this BUT rest assured plans are being made in back rooms for them to get reimbursed.

    AS to the condemnation of equipment, all that should have to be done is the replacement of pressure regulators and appliance gas valves. They should also do something to prevent high pressure from getting into homes - maybe and aux regulator?

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,045Member
    edited October 10
    BobC said:

    "All these gas utilities with 100 year old piping in the ground.
    WHY??"

    For decades the gas utilities in this are were true public utilities, the gas was dirt cheap and the only things that ever got fixed was "that what broke."

    A few decades back the utilities were sold off to private companies, utility bills quickly rose and the bulk of the money went to the executive suite. The state is beginning to mandate pipe replacement but all was to be done with price increases to cover the work.

    Now Columbia got their tit caught in the wringer and there is hell to pay. They will be footing the bill for all this BUT rest assured plans are being made in back rooms for them to get reimbursed.

    AS to the condemnation of equipment, all that should have to be done is the replacement of pressure regulators and appliance gas valves. They should also do something to prevent high pressure from getting into homes - maybe and aux regulator?

    Bob

    Sure, except for the fact that every appliance this happened to has a big sticker saying the maximum input is something like 7"WC. And every one had that input exceeded by 192 times it's rating.

    I'm not saying you're wrong, but I bet any lawyer would.
    And can you say for sure, without any doubt, that nothing else was damaged? From every steam boiler, to every tankless heater out there?

    Sadly, we all know who's going to pay for all of this in the end.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 400Member
    Seems to me, all that would need replacement would be regulators and gas valves. Not the appliances.

    Schedule 40 pipe can handle 150psi sustained and I believe most components in a gas train can handle twice that.

    Granted, homes burned, but I suspect gas appliances were on, like hot water heaters to warm water. That could have looked like an Apollo rocket launch in a basement. Or Gas clothing dryers.

    But if they were off, seems like you could get away with replacing regulators and gas valves.

  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 288Member
    Its all a liability issue! Who's to say the heat exchanger, flue pipe didn't get cherry red. Who's going to inspect and accept the liability? Theres not enough qualified people in the field to inspect all of it.
    Bankruptcy is a real concern!
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 400Member
    i see. i guess i was thinking heating sytems were off when this ocurred , so no damage. Driers would be different of course.

    I think inexperienced installers seeing an opportunity would be a liability too if there is that much work.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 4,550Member
    I can see changing the gas valve and any regulator involved.

    The black sch 40 pipe seems like it would survive.

    But how about CSST???
    And also appliance connectors for the dryer, range etc.

    You may get a new appliance but the CSST or appliance connector might have a hernia somewhere.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,187Member
    This from the North Andover town manager:
    "In my professional opinion and the professional opinion of the North Andover Fire Chief, all residential gas appliances, including boilers and furnaces, that were impacted by the gas overpressurization of September 13, 2018 should be replaced not repaired.”


    In their professional opinion???

    They are not professional heating, plumbing or piping contractors

    @pecmsg is correct. It's all about liability.

    I too want to know how the utility will recoup there losses
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,045Member

    This from the North Andover town manager:
    "In my professional opinion and the professional opinion of the North Andover Fire Chief, all residential gas appliances, including boilers and furnaces, that were impacted by the gas overpressurization of September 13, 2018 should be replaced not repaired.”


    In their professional opinion???

    They are not professional heating, plumbing or piping contractors

    @pecmsg is correct. It's all about liability.

    I too want to know how the utility will recoup there losses

    As far as recouping the money, I'm sure they will raise their prices a little and overtime recoup everything, assuming they can tolerate the hurt for now.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • GBartGBart Posts: 546Member
    Main problem is we are back to the Robber Baron era and these entities that were once regulated and limited to be only within their state are now monopoly GIANTS, and they own many politicians..........so guess who is going to pay for this........go ahead..........the same person that pays for everything and every rich jerks screw ups...........you and me, somehow this will be passed on to us unless the government, which is at 2018 close to completely owned by corporations, steps up and ensures that they don't.
  • GBartGBart Posts: 546Member
    Reminds me of the flood of 1982, we ended up with so much repair work that it's all we did for a year and service calls, maintenance go pushed back unless they called and complained, on some streets we had to find and identify and recover their oil tanks. This is similar to the numbers we were dealing with, but not in scope because many units were salvageable with new motors and controls and a pump out of the chamber.
  • GBartGBart Posts: 546Member
    Not sure how this topic got moved to Steam, but.......interesting to note about who will pay,........Columbia was cited multiple times over the years for failures, and they were in the midst of a massive effort to replace hundreds of miles of aging gas pipes in Massachusetts and head off persistent and potentially dangerous gas leaks.

    Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, has been fined tens of thousands of dollars by the state’s utilities regulator in recent years, and its corporate parent linked to serious blasts in at least two other states, since 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has fined Columbia Gas for safety violations that included faulty pressure testing and response procedures, insufficiently covering new service lines, improperly classifying leaks, and breaking rules around the use of leak repair kits.

    Their response to that was to seek a rate increase to cover their lacking, earlier this year, Columbia Gas proposed a $44.5 million distribution rate hike for its 321,000 customers beginning Nov. 1. The proposal was reduced to $33.2 million under a settlement with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's office that was announced on Sept. 7.

    That has since been withdrawn but rest assured they will seek another.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 400Member
    edited October 11
    I don't know what csst pressure ratings are but if they are the weak link, then it is less expensive to replace a hose than an appliance.

    I guess I'm too practical minded.

    If you told me I had to replace my boiler (that's what these guys are saying), which was not in operation (warm weather) , and down stream of a regulator, I would look at you like you had three heads.

    My gas meter has a radio transmitter. I would want to see data from it. If I was at work and all my appliances were off and there is no spike in flow though my meter, I'd ask you to replace the house regulator and any hoses that were not rated for the pressure seen. But, that's just me.

    I'm sure Columbia has good insurance, on top of more good insurance. Their insurance rates will go up and so will their customers' bills.
  • GBartGBart Posts: 546Member
    Plus the towns have to be careful what they say they will allow, if they say it is ok for your HVAC contractor to assess the unit and things go wrong ambulance chasing lawyers will sue the town for deep pockets. A lot of the high end gas units that are variable speed will have been seriously damaged, older atmospheric units would probably only need a regulator.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,187Member
    no one will take on the liability. guess the have a point . we are all used to fixing things.

    All new equipment is ok with me EXCEPT I am burning Columbia Gas in my house. I think I will end up paying a share of everyone's new equipment.

    Besides, have you ever driven by an insurance companies building? No peeling paint or unkempt lawn there. Not a blade of grass out of place. Same with NI Source/Columbia Gas

    The Insurance company and Columbia gas will not lose out in the end they will find a way to make money off of this...we will pay penny by penny
  • LeonardLeonard Posts: 429Member
    Hard to make a "one-size -fits- all" statement. Damage will vary.
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 288Member

    no one will take on the liability. guess the have a point . we are all used to fixing things.

    All new equipment is ok with me EXCEPT I am burning Columbia Gas in my house. I think I will end up paying a share of everyone's new equipment.

    Besides, have you ever driven by an insurance companies building? No peeling paint or unkempt lawn there. Not a blade of grass out of place. Same with NI Source/Columbia Gas

    The Insurance company and Columbia gas will not lose out in the end they will find a way to make money off of this...we will pay penny by penny

    So how much do you think your Home owners Insurance is going up after this Hurricane season?

    We will ALL pay, Columbia, PSE&G........
  • Bob HarperBob Harper Posts: 780Member
    While the burst pressure is rated at 1,500 psi for Gastite, they state a maximum working pressure of 5 psi.
    Dormont states a max working pressure of 0.5 psi with a min. hydrostatic burst pressure of 250 psi
    Your typical gas shutoff is rated max operating pressure 0.5 psi with a max pressure of 5 psi even with a hydrostat rating of 600 psi.
    Maxitrol 325 series is rated 2 psi maximum inlet with an emergency 65 psi (one time then replace) rating.
    The gas code calls for testing at 10x maximum working pressure, which is why all these controls and accessories must be isolated from the "piping", which must be capped. Therefore, pressure testing should not exceed 5 psi and to do so would be stupid. Any appliance fired at a gas inlet pressure above its maximum rating has been overfired and therefore ruined. You cannot leave it in service as it is highly prone to failure and the liability to everyone (occupants, contractors, utilities, emergency personnel is too great). The code states anything that presents a hazard to these people must be corrected-done. This should be an insurable loss if the utility doesn't send the owner a voucher. It was sudden and accidental within 12 months. The homeowners insurance can correct it then recover their loss through subrogation if need be. Meanwhile, the customer has heat (and a lot of pre-existing problems hopefully corrected as part of the replacement). Just note defects and deficiencies not directly related to the loss could not be considered part of an insurance claim so be careful. Also, many insurance companies want to see a quote broken out for time & materials. You can do this but in PA, T&M contracts are illegal so make sure your actual contract meets the state Atty. Gen. requirements for a HIC.
    Side note: I had a similar situation in Delaware yrs ago. 125 psi blew my digital manometer. They gave me a new one of my choice no questions asked and thanked me for discovering the problem before a restaurant and Inn blew up. If your meter got damaged they owe you a new one.

  • kevink1955kevink1955 Posts: 50Member
    There will be a lot of used boilers, water heaters and stoves showing up on Craigs List in a few months
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,809Member
    If thousands of boilers have to be replaced I see two problems. The lack of properly sized boilers will mean a lot these replacements are oversized. Many of these new steam boilers will get installed by people who have not a clue about HOW a steam boiler should be piped.

    If you don't believe me look back at what followed Sandy.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • NY_RobNY_Rob Posts: 1,119Member
    Well below normal temps for many parts of the country on the way for the upcoming week. Boston is forecasting 39F on Wed and 37F on Thurs.

    Hopefully temporary electric heaters will used properly/safely.
  • Bob HarperBob Harper Posts: 780Member
    I don't doubt a lot of boilers, furnaces, water heaters, pool heaters, etc. will be over-sized and improperly installed. That goes on every day without an incident to trigger it. Ask 50 wet heads what constitutes a "proper installation" or "proper sizing" and you'll get 50 different answers. There are no standards in the heating industry for installation nor consensus on what is and what ain't. We all do the best we can based upon our individual knowledge, training and experience.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 4,187Member
    MA only allows Gastite to be used o low pressure
  • luketheplumberluketheplumber Posts: 15Member
    It would be nice if there was more sustainable and cheaper energy scores for electricity because electric boilers can last a hell of a lot longer than gas/oil boilers and power lines are not as hard to replace plus less pollution to our atmosphere
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,535Member
    There is. For base load it's called nuclear power, and for additional you can have solar -- if you don't mind using agricultural land for it -- or wind, if you don't mind the visual impacts and damage to birds, or hydro, if you don't mind damming your river valleys.

    Nuclear is cheap -- or would be, if one could get the lawyers out of the way. The others aren't.

    The green contingent hates nuclear quite irrationally, so there are some problems...
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,809Member
    @Jamie Hall i agree we should be embracing nuclear power, but it should not be anything like a boiling water reactor. The BWR are hugely expensive to build because they operate at high pressure and require immense safety layers to make sure they don't go BOOM. Add to that the problem of nuclear waste and they start yo look less and less attractive.

    Rather than use water as a coolant we should go back to using liquid salt as a coolant. They run at low pressure, generates less than 3% the waste BWR's do and most of that small amount is short lived. The plants are smaller, much less expensive and can not go boom because they run at low pressure.

    We all know fusion is coming but until it does (20-50 years?) we need to do something that has a proven track record.



    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,045Member
    > @Jamie Hall said:
    > There is. For base load it's called nuclear power, and for additional you can have solar -- if you don't mind using agricultural land for it -- or wind, if you don't mind the visual impacts and damage to birds, or hydro, if you don't mind damming your river valleys.
    >
    > Nuclear is cheap -- or would be, if one could get the lawyers out of the way. The others aren't.
    >
    > The green contingent hates nuclear quite irrationally, so there are some problems...

    Yes, and they do so because it's always done as cheaply as possible. But by all means, get the lawyers out of the way so we can build some RBMK reactors here in the states finally nice and cheap.

    When it comes to this subject I think @Gordy has the best and most accurate input.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • GordyGordy Posts: 8,029Member
    edited October 14
    To really comment on types of nuclear power generation plants is pointless unless the interested group chooses to educate themselves. Whether it be a BWR, or a PWR, or liquid salt.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/molten-salt-reactors.aspx

    My perspective about using nuclear power is more about saving finite energy sources by using alternatives that don't create a carbon foot print in the actual process of creating electricity. If you throw in the cradle to grave just about every type of energy requires a form of fossil fuel to get the ball rolling, and to get rid of the ball after the life cycle is complete.


    Next thought. Think about a world that is with out fossil fuels run purely on electricity. Think about anything fossil fueled going away, and being replaced by electrical energy.

    Anythung that runs on coal,fuel oil, NG, LP, Bio Fuels, methane, gasoline, etc. all being replaced by electrical means. Look at that industry being abandoned. Think of the economic repercussions.

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