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  1. #1
    Bob Sisson's Avatar
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    Default Valve in Firebox ?

    Ok, I flagged this as soon as I saw it. The buyer brought in a "Fireplace Person" who said "It is what it is... not much you can do" but the buyers parents asked that I look into it a bit further.

    The Gas line runs through the basement which has a suspended ceiling. I was thinking of a Floor valve with one of those nice escutcheons.

    I also could use some verbage on the "badness" of this.

    The fireplace was put in by the builder, along with the connection, but I don't think they provided the insert, a way around the rules perhaps.

    It is a Wood burning fireplace with a natural gas connection and a Gas valve in the Firebox. I was trained that this was an absolute no-no, but it passed the county inspection 5 years ago.

    Bob Sisson

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  2. #2
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    Cool Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Why is it a problem? This is allowed under the IRC, which Maryland is under. You have an ANSI Z21.15 gas shutoff installed within 6 feet of the fireplace.

    FYI, there is no insert installed here. There is a vented gas log set installed into a masonry fireplace.

    That gas pipe should be packed and sealed where it exists the conduit.

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  3. #3
    Jim Gecz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Hey Bob S - So now you want common sense in the codes? Heck, in an emergency who would not want to stick their hand in the firebox!

    One thing you might want to tell your clients is they will need a fire screen. The gas log set manufacturer manuals that I have read state the set should be operated with the glass doors open, and only with a fire screen.

    Jim


  4. #4
    Bob Sisson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Apparently the code has changed. I thought it used to say no valves in the firebox... but reading some of the NFPA minuets, it was changed a while back to allow it.

    Don't like it, but the codes allow it... Still prefer the valve in the wall/floor with the pretty escutcheon.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    I tell my clients that it is a potential safety issue, and they need to KNOW where the main gas shut off is in case a problem comes up and they need to shut off the gas logs in a hurry (and they don't want to risk setting their arm on fire).
    JF


  6. #6
    Michael Greenwalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Well, I agree with Bob, not that he needs any further support. I do not see a problem with the construction minus the packing around the gas line entry. This is a preferred method of construction here, the shutoff is easily accessible it is just fine. I always recommend new buyers obtain, read, and understand the owners manual for the gas log set that is installed, or the fireplace...whatever.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Two shut offs are required aren't they. One being away from the unit in case of not being able to reach that one in the box. And an electric shut off swith to boot. or am I wrong as usual?


  8. #8
    Michael Greenwalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    I haven't heard that one, not that it isn't right, just haven't heard it. Anyone?


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Well, that goes to show how one can "read" into things. I had also assumed that the 6 foot rule obviously meant that the silly thing couldn't be in the fireplace with the fire. I spent a while looking hard at the code trying to make it say "not in the fireplace", but it doesn't.

    I did write up one a while back, but the valve was at the rear of the fireplace and you had to reach thru or around the fire to shut it off. Not bright. Also it was sweated copper in the fireplace.

    Oh well...

    Bruce


  10. #10
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    Cool Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    One shutoff per appliance. Keep in mind what this shutoff is for: service. It is NOT an emergency shutoff. That is located at the meter outside. In the event of a major gas leak, the code expects you to get the hell out of the house and call the calvalry from a neighbor's. The code does Not expect you to reach into a combustible vapor cloud to shut off the gas. That includes hanging out in the same soom. Do you think the codes expect your wife to pull the gas dryer or range and shutoff the gas by themselves? It needs to be where a service tech, working on his knees, can easily reach it while servicing the appliance.

    A word or two on key valves: they have more problems than your standard shutoff. They tend to leak gas, esp. those with a rising stem that need 21 throws of the wrist to shutoff, the owners always misplace the key( the bratty kid took it), again the stem rising valves have a lot of flow resistance. You cannot run soft copper to them since they are usually located in concealed areas where flare fittings are not allowed. Some use a 1/4" square key while others use a 5/16" square key. Most cannot take more than about 5psi under a pressure test.

    Under the IRC, shutoffs can be located remote of the appliance as long as they meet 3 criteria: they are plainly marked as to what appliance they serve, they serve only one appliance, and they are "readily accessible". Now, follow the emergency shutoff thought---how do you tell if you shut the gas on or off when you're standing outdoors or in the basement? You don't---its for service.

    HTH,
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    I am really surprised that a keyed valve is not required in that case. I believe that it is much easier to hide the key and keep it away from that "bratty" kid than allow them access to a 1/4 turn valve that they can easily turn on with no one around.

    Remember, we are not hobbled by the code. We can recommend more than the minimum required by code.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    I believe that it is much easier to hide the key
    I would not want *anyone* hiding that key.

    I always told my clients that those key valves were dumb - what is going to happen when the key is lost ... aka 'someone hid the key'.

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  13. #13
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    Cool key valves

    You may find some that have a metal chain leash attaching the key to the escutcheon. It looks like hell, gets tangled up when cleaning floors and still gets yanked off. One kid found he could use the screw attachment of this chain to the brass escutcheon as a handle to unscrew the escutcheon then lose them all. The homeowner had to buy an entire valve just to get the new escutcheon, which come in polished brass and chrome finishes btw.

    I'm not kidding about them leaking. In developments where they test at high pressures, these valves always leaked after the testing. Also, you want to pressure test before you enclose that wall or floor where this is mounted. Had several cases where the surrounding finish materials were very expensive to remove to get wrenches at that valve. Also, they never install a ground union on either side of it you to replace it when piped with black iron, you have to saw the pipe in half, replace everything but incorporate a union to get it all back together. You are not supposed to be concealing ground unions because they are notorious leakers, esp. when the pipe dope puts pipe dope on the face of the seat.

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    AH very interesting, Thanks for the info. wayne


  15. #15
    David Argabright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    The [2000 IRC] and {UPC} codes require a shut-off valve outside the firebox and within [6'] {4'} of the hearth. If I don't see this additional valve I write it as lacking the required safety valve. CYA

    Sometimes they are covered by carpet, located inside the built-in book shelves, or on the wall. Once I found one 20' away on the opposite side of the room on a wall. That one I gently suggested it was farther away than required and should be moved closer.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: key valves

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    esp. when the pipe dope puts pipe dope on the face of the seat.


    Here was that dreaded message again:

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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    [quote=Jerry Peck;16218]I would not want *anyone* hiding that key.

    Personally, I would rather purchase a new key than have the house go up in flames because some kid opened the 1/4 turn gas shutoff valve. Now, a leaking valve mentioned by Bob Harper would indeed be a problem.

    By the way, I thought the 1/4 turn gas shutoff valves (like the one in Bob Sisson's pic) were just for shutoff, not for flow control as you would need for a burner.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Jerry,

    Which Lucy? van Pelt or "Ricardo"

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  19. #19
    Jim Gecz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    I was checking on the code reference for this discussion and ran across this exception in my 2000 edition of the NJ IRC – G2419.5 Equipment Shutoff valve.

    “Exception: Shutoff valves for vented decorative appliances and decorative appliances for installation in a vented fireplaces shall not be prohibited from being installed in an area remote from the appliance where such valves are provided with ready access. Such valves shall be permanently identified and shall serve no other equipment.”

    My question is "remote from the appliance". So according to this code reference a gas log set shutoff valve could be located in the basement below the fireplace. It does not have to be located within 6’, correct? (or am I misreading this?)


    Jim


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    Thumbs down Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Perhaps a recheck of the exact wording is needed regarding the code. Simply locating the shut off "within 6 feet" could mean below the floor, in the basement, two feet from the control valve. Sorry, but that is not safe. Just because a code official put the "OK" on it doesn't mean a thing. Around here, code officials are paid off all the time. A home inspection is not a code inspection, and that gas valve installation is unsafe. It's just wrong, period. The possibility of litigation if something goes wrong should be sufficient motivation for a seller to pay to have the valve moved, or move it themselves.

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  21. #21
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    Cool remote from the appliance

    that's the code section I was waiting on someone to find Jim. Yes, according to the IRC, you can locate shutoffs more than 6 feet from the appliance as long as you meet 3 criteria: lableled, serves only one appliance and has ready access. If it is in the basement, it must have ready access. It cannot be tucked 10 ft. up off the floor or out under a crawl space.

    As for log lighters, they are the appliance operating valve so that shutoff must be within 6 feet and have ready access. Piping to within 3 feet of the appliance inlet must be treated and sized as gas piping and not as a connector.

    IFGC 409.5.1 Shutoff valve in fireplace. Equipment shutoff valves located in the firebox of a fireplace shall be installed in accordance with the appliance manufacturer's instructions.

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    By the way, I thought the 1/4 turn gas shutoff valves (like the one in Bob Sisson's pic) were just for shutoff, not for flow control as you would need for a burner.
    Correct.

    Gas shut off for service and/or replacement.

    Those key valves are not for flow control either. They are the gas shut off valves.

    Bob H.,

    Question: Do those gas key valves *just* leak when 'on', or do they pretty much leak at all times under pressure?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Smile Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    the leaking key valves were the old stem rising type that take 21 throws of the wrist. The newer ball valves, which are 1/4 turn, seem to do much better. It is ridiculous for these high pressure tests that are many times greater than what the code calls for and are over the pressure rating of most shutoffs (5psi). Try explaining it to the AHJs.

    You are correct those appliance control valves are really intended for on/off. You should not be trying to throttle a gas log lighter. Either use it or don't. To do otherwise is outside of the manufacturer's recommendations. If you leave the log lighter burning for more than is necessary for full ignition then you are abusing the lighter and now it becomes an unlisted vented gas decorative appliance, which should have a safety pilot. In other words, as long as you use it for a few minutes to get the logs going, its ok but not if you leave it running or throttle it.

    HTH

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    You are correct those appliance control valves are really intended for on/off. You should not be trying to throttle a gas log lighter. Either use it or don't.

    HTH
    I had a good laugh at that one. In case you have forgotten, we are dealing with homeowners here. The vast majority of homeowners see a gas valve as the same thing as the valve/control on a gas range or cook top. A throttle. And, the valve will be used as one, whether or not it was designed for that use. It will also be left on for hours.

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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    Gomer Pyle
    Maxwell Smart
    Opie Taylor
    Lucy
    Rob Petrie


    Jerry has it been that many years since you watched T.V. or do you only watch the TV Land channel reruns?

    I should talk as I am very familiar with all five of those "characters".

    E


  26. #26
    Dale W. Feb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Valve in Firebox ?

    When dealing with a “decorative gas appliance”, the requirements for a “fireplace” no longer applies. The IRC 6’ distance is specifically for the fireplace operation.

    If we take a look at the IRC (2006), Chapter 24, Fuel Gas,

    G2420.1.3 (409.1.3) Access to shutoff valves. Shutoff valves shall be located in places so as to provide access for operation and shall be installed so as to be protected from damage.

    You can cross referance this information with the 2006 edition of the International Fuel Gas Code as stated above (Sec 409.1.3).

    “So as to be protected from damage” is the true concern. If we place this valve within the firebox, damage may result. We do not know for sure but damage is likely without some form of protection. There are control valves approved for installation to the right or left of the log set. This listed systems have a heat shield (enclosure) intended to protect the product from thermal damage. Do you believe that this valve, at this location has been tested with this product? I don’t think so.

    Damage to the gas shut-off valve on the gas log set is likely due to its present location. This valve may fail to perform as intended and personal injury may result due to high temperatures and physical contact by the operator. I recommend relocation of this valve for safety.

    Fuel for thought!


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