Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing – Is Your Home Safe?

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So many materials go into the building of our homes and it’s hard to know if we are completely safe with what might have been used.

What is Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST)?

Corrugated stainless steel tubing, according to the article, “CSST Safety” published by the National Association of State Fire Marshals, is:

“a flexible, stainless steel pipe used to supply natural gas and propane in residential, commercial and industrial structures. Coated with a yellow, or in some cases, a black exterior plastic coating, CSST is usually routed beneath, through and alongside floor joists in your basement, inside interior wall cavities and on top of ceiling joists in attic spaces.”

Is Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing Safe?

So, what exactly is the concern regarding corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST)?  Some of these flexible tubes have sustained damage when there has been a nearby lightening strike.  “CSST Safety” goes on to say,

“Nearby lightning strikes can result in a power surge that can damage certain gas tubing systems and ultimately cause a fire.  Properly bonding and grounding the Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) significantly reduces the risk of damage and fire from a lightning strike.”

Property damage, injury, and even death have been caused due to corrugated stainless steel tubing that was not properly bonded and grounded.  NBC News in their article entitled, “Lightning Strike Fires Reignite Debate Over Gas Pipe Safety” reports of an explosion at a home in Lubbock, Texas in 2012 in which a man lost his life due to an “explosion started when a bolt of lightning sent electricity coursing into the home, burning tiny holes in the yellow corrugated stainless steel pipes supplying natural gas to appliances and heaters in the rest of the house.”  The fire marshal who investigated found that, “lightning struck the metal cap on the chimney, descended into the attic, then “arced” — or jumped – to the pipe, where it punched a number of tiny holes in the thin wall. That let gas escape and ignite, creating small “flame jets” that quickly spread to the rest of the attic.”

The NBC News article concludes with the fire marshal’s personal thoughts.

Texas Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said he encourages homeowners in his state to ensure that any CSST in their homes is bonded and grounded, but that doesn’t mean he endorses the product.

“This is an issue that’s evolving … and so we don’t take a position on CSST, whether for or against it,” he said.

Asked if he would sleep well at night with the product in his attic, Connealy responded, “Well, I would certainly have it bonded and grounded, that’s for sure.”

Benefits of Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST)

There are benefits of CSST over the traditional method (black iron pipe), however.  According to “CSST Safety,” they include having fewer leaks because of its ability to “snake” through walls and around obstacles having approximately 75% fewer fitting joints. Another advantage is that it takes much less installation time than the black iron pipe.  CSST can be installed in one-third of the time as the traditional method.

Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing: Ensure Your Safety

So, what should you do if you suspect you have CSST in your home?  A licensed electrician should be contacted to determine if you indeed have CSST installed in your home, and if it is properly bonded and grounded.  He can inform you if you need to be upgraded to make your home safer.  Bonding is used to prevent a possible electrical shock to people who come into contact with the gas piping and other metal objects.  This video can give you some idea of what your licensed electrician may do when he comes to ensure you are properly bonded and grounded in accordance with the Manufacturer’s Design and Installation Guide.  However, please don’t try this yourself!  This should be performed by a professional only.

Where our families are concerned, we can never be too careful.  A simple check of our homes for safety by a professional may save our home or even our lives.  Please be safe!

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