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This weeks case, The Case of The Plugged Gas Pipe

RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,155
This weeks case is going to be a bit different because I never found out who did it. Bill, the mechanical contractor, was a very angry guy. He would scream and yell at people on the jobsite. He would take ladders and tools from other contractors and get angry when they wanted them back. He and the electrician almost came to blows when he took his scissor lift. The general contractor was not a fan either. When we started the boilers, we found something in the gas pipe blocking the gas flow. It had to be deliberate. It will post Friday at 6am EST. I would love hearing about your dealings with a contractor like Bill.
Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons


  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,896
    Many many years ago while I was a youngster I was working on a large track home project and when it can to starting the hot water boiler in one unit we had no gas pressure at the equipment . At the meter unions we where good and also bleeding at the stove we where good . After dis assembling some gas piping we ended up finding the end of 1 length of pipe was jammed w dryer up red mud clay which the job was loaded with . We chalked it up being dragged around outside and unknowing getting jammed w mud . I highly think it was unintentional and was just one of the other helper not thinking it happens . It did teach me a lesson and that is to always take a quick peak into piping especially black piping when using full lengths ,it may sound stupid but better to look foolish then be foolish and have issues down the road plus who knows where the piping is being stored inside outside who knows . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,427
    Dealing with this type of *******usually means its time to ban them from the job sight.
    All to often they are a danger to themselves and others and have no place in the work force.
    Condoning this behavior at any level can doom a project.
    I for one have dismissed many from job sights for this and similar infractions.

    As for the deliberate? obstruction in the gas piping. It's often hard to prove. And the trouble makers know this and will deliberately cause havoc like this, and in other ways as well.

    It's also easy to assume it's the one who has been the most difficult on the job. However. When this type of "relationship" is taking place. And the trouble makers are allowed to stay on, others will try almost anything to get rid of them by resorting to desperate measures like clogging gas pipes and having it blamed on the troublesome one(s). Its a tough spot to be in when this type of angry behavior is allowed to fester.

    Ban the problematic ones as soon as possible. To many problems can come from this type of issue.

  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 722
    edited March 15
    At the Quaker Valley High School which I know @Ray, you are familiar with, had a case many years ago where the gas line in the building all the way into the street was filled with water. It even affected some the adjacent residential houses. They had 3 large boilers so you know that we are talking about a large gas line. The gas company was summoned as were we. This was caused by one or more students in the last period on Friday's science class attaching flexible hoses to the gas supply ports for the "Bunsen Burners" over to the fresh water ports on the same experiment table and turning on both the water valves and gas valves. The water flowed into the gas line all weekend until the residential customers called the gas company early Sunday complaining of no heat in their homes.

    Another time, I was at a new school building attempting to start the gas burners on the new heating system and had zero gas pressure or flow. This was before the "Right to Work" laws were passed. A non-union contractor installed the new gas line from the gas house meter to the building. Someone had shoved a large rubber object into the 6" gas supply line near the gas house which totally blocked the flow of gas. Of course, no one claimed responsibility.

    Here is one about an engineer that new too much and ran the new gas line from Columbia Gas Company's high pressure regulator across a field to the school. The gas line was installed in 2" and ran hundreds of feet to the school. After I arrived at the school I asked the union foreman if he could have that engineer come see me. When he arrived I told him that the gas line was way too small and he informed me that he was the engineer and that I was a moron for even questioning him. I said to him that the 2" supply line at a pressure of 10 PSIG would not carry enough gas to supply the whole building and that he would have to install a bigger line. He said " I am not supplying 10 Psig, I am supplying 100 psig for which I said that in Pennsylvania, at that time, you were only allowed to run 10 psig on school property and nothing higher. We argued, some things were said, and he wanted me off the job until we met with the gas company who told him I was right and he was wrong. We were never friends after that day.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,452
    The first thing that comes to mind is a soda bottle shoved into the gas main.
    It would have to be a large line over 2" ID.

    Good reason to not leave any piping open on the job.

    In building my house the sheetrock finisher thought it was proper to drop his empties down the RA high wall openings, as he worked off his stilts, and hear them drop into the basement as the panning/ductwork was not installed.

    I checked all the wall cavities and found bottles sitting on the Romex cable that passed thru the studs, (BTW, legal to do thru one stud space). This would have cut down on return air.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,704
    I've seen the rubber plugs left in ACR tubing and brazed. Lots of fun finding the restrictions later.
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,155
    @clammy I do the same thing ever since this happened.
    @Intplm. I agree I was just the guy who sold the boilers. I would have thrown him off if I were the foreman.
    @retiredguy OMG I was going to say I can believe it would happen but then you are dealing with teenagers. That was an expensive repair I like the story about the engineer
    @JUGHNE LOl That would be tough
    @pecmsg Really? That would drive me crazy trying to find that.

    I did hear of a story and Im not sure if it's true. A disgruntled employee installed a ping pong ball inside a hydronic system and it would float along and plug a valve when it opens. A different problem area every day.
    Thanks that was fun
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 722
    edited March 16
    @RayWohlfarth , I did hear a story similar to yours about a disgruntled person putting dozens of ping pong balls in the domestic piping for a multistory building. They never found the person responsible but as you can guess it gave them problems for a long time. Quite ingenious. Also, I like to hear the stories of the other techs out there, so I now know that I am not alone. It is amazing just what problems each of us faced every day in pursuit of solutions.
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,155
    @retiredguy It was quite ingenious I would have never thought of that
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons