Thursday, July 2, 2015

Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST)...Are You At Risk?

If your house is supplied by a gas service to run appliances, water heaters or HVAC equipment etc., there is a relatively good chance you may have corrugated stainless steel tubing also know as CSST. This is typically a yellow colored flexible pipe that often connects to your gas fed appliances.  The other common option for gas service is black iron pipes.  In some cases, you may even see a combination of both black pipe and CSST piping for your gas supply.
CSST Connected to an iron pipe maniforld

There is an inherent risk home owners should be aware of regarding the installation of CSST piping and its reaction to lightning strikes.  As we know, lightning is highly conductive and is often destructive when it strikes.  In fact, lightning does not have to strike your home directly to cause problems.  Even a strike in close proximity of your home can cause electrically conductive systems in the home to become energized.  Additionally, nearby lightning strikes can also create power surges to the home which can also cause significant problems.

The issue with CSST piping is that it is often found to be installed with no grounding or bonding. Additionally, the wall thickness of this type of pipe is very thin especially when compared to the black iron pipes.  Studies have shown that in cases where the CSST piping was not grounded and bonded, and a lightning strike occurred, damage from arcing has resulted in small holes forming throughout CSST the tubing.  This obviously has the potential to cause gas leaks and in some cases has been the cause of significant gas fed fires.

So what's the fix to ensure your gas system is safely installed?  The answer is to ensure that the system is properly grounded and bonded.  This will significantly reduce many of the issues described above in the event of a lightning strike.  This type of repair involves the installation of a bonding clamp on the gas fitting and the attachment of a grounding wire.  This type of repair should be done by a licensed professional.  If you feel you may be at risk, consult a licensed professional and have them evaluate your system to ensure it it properly installed and protected against these inherent risks.

These images show properly grounded CSST gas systems.  Notice the bonding clamp and grounding wire.  The absence of a grounding system may put you at risk.

Example of damage caused from electrical arcing

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