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Thread: Gas Key Covered

  1. #1
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    Default Gas Key Covered

    Wood burning, masonry fireplace has a capped gas stub for log starter. The new owners did not want to use gas service and covered the key/valve with stone veneer. Can someone help me with describing why this is not allowed? I couldn't find a code reference. As always, thank you in advance. Chris

    ScreenHunter_05 Nov. 12 17.47.jpgScreenHunter_04 Nov. 12 17.41.jpg

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Was the piping disconnected and capped before it got to the gas valve?
    If not, it seems fairly simple to remove the stone and get access to the valve.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Was the piping disconnected and capped before it got to the gas valve?
    If not, it seems fairly simple to remove the stone and get access to the valve.

    Cannot assume it was...removing the stone to expose the valve for access would be the recommendation...just wanted to explain why it was not allowed.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Nothing is wrong with it. It is just a capped gas stub out with no appliance connected to it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stichter View Post
    Wood burning, masonry fireplace has a capped gas stub for log starter. The new owners did not want to use gas service and covered the key/valve with stone veneer. Can someone help me with describing why this is not allowed? I couldn't find a code reference. As always, thank you in advance. Chris

    ScreenHunter_05 Nov. 12 17.47.jpgScreenHunter_04 Nov. 12 17.41.jpg
    IRC G2420.5.1 (409.5.1)
    "...(appliance) shut off valves shall be provided with access."
    Covering the valve with brick veneer does not allow access. Relatively easy to resolve as long as the homeowners know exactly where the valve is.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 11-13-2014 at 09:04 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    IRC G2420.5.1 (409.5.1)
    "...(appliance) shut off valves shall be provided with access."
    Covering the valve with brick veneer does not allow access.
    But there is no appliance at present. If the pipe was connected to something (appliance) then the IRC G2420.5.1 (409.5.1) would apply.

    Now, I would question the use of what appears to be tape on the threads of the capped pipe and the potential use of the fireplace. Or was a high heat rated thread sealant used with the cap?

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 11-13-2014 at 09:19 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stichter View Post
    Wood burning, masonry fireplace has a capped gas stub for log starter. The new owners did not want to use gas service and covered the key/valve with stone veneer. Can someone help me with describing why this is not allowed? I couldn't find a code reference. As always, thank you in advance. Chris

    ScreenHunter_05 Nov. 12 17.47.jpgScreenHunter_04 Nov. 12 17.41.jpg
    This looks like a pipe bomb to me. I'd simply write that the Gas service should be removed from the fireplace if not being used.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    From what I usually read of all the IN posts, I am of the mind that Scott Patterson is an excellent inspector, but I would have to disagree with him and the others that view this condition as 'nothing wrong here'. While you see 'capped' gas pipe stubs in the fireboxes all day long, and it's not needed for wood burning, that visible gas pipe is not original continuous lengths of rigid pipe with joint connectors, only; but had/has a moveable valve incorporated with it that now you can't inspect/test. Even though there technically is no present appliance, as many would want to substantiate their opinion with, I base my opinion on all of the following criteria that I feel applies to this situation, as the fireplace was originally constructed to 'serve a specific function' when an approved-type gas appliance or fixture IS installed:

    2012 International Fuel Gas Code Section 409 – Shutoff Valves:

    409.1.2 Prohibited locations. Shutoff valves shall be prohibited in concealed locations and furnace plenums.
    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.
    409.5.1 Located within same room. The shutoff valve shall be located in the same room as the appliance. The shutoff valve shall be within 6 feet (1829 mm) of the appliance, and shall be installed upstream of the union, connector or quick disconnect device it serves. Such shut-off valves shall be provided with access. Appliance shut-off valves located in the firebox of a fireplace shall be installed in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions.

    At least for us in CA, there's our 2013 CRC & CBC Codes that can be applied for installation of gas piping & shutoff valve purposes:

    2013 CA Mechanical Code Section 303 - Installation, General Requirements (any parentheses mine)

    303.1 Installation Practices - Mechanical systems shall be installed in a manner in accordance with this code, applicable standards, and the manufacturer's installation instructions.

    A fuel shut-off valve shall be provided at the equipment (notice this says gas equipment, and does not say just for ‘appliances’) for two reasons:
    (1) to allow replacement and servicing of the equipment without having to shut off the supply to the entire building and
    (2) to be able to shut off the fuel to the equipment in case of an emergency, such as a malfunction of the controls, fuel leaks in the appliance, etc.

    NOTE: Generally accepted & recognized definition/meaning of equipment: “Any apparatus, device, or fixture designed to serve a specific function”. I think it's safe to say that a fireplace falls into those categories, but Bob H. or Jerry P. will kick in if I’m off base.

    So as it exists, the new homebuyer/your Client would have to remove the added stone veneer when they choose to install any ‘gas appliance/fixture’ to serve that function, and verify that there is an approved-type shutoff valve that is safe & functional, which just might be the real reason why they covered/concealed it because it’s broken. You can't verify that if it's covered, can you?. More importantly, to remove that cap, now you would have to shut off the gas supply to the whole home. The home seller altered the original installation that prohibits the normal and intended use of the fireplace by both wood & gas. My opinion would be that the fireplace cannot be safely and properly utilized, to serve a specific function as it was originally intended with that ‘modified’ concealed shutoff valve scenario, and I would report it as such.

    Also, any of the Codes listed are intended to provide general state-wide information, only, and all recommend to ‘contact the local Building Safety Division for any questions or additional information’, as the local AHJ would have the final word for an 'approved installation'. I have seen a number of local municipal Building & Safety Divisions that also include a ‘Gas Shutoff Fireplace’ diagram with their permit application forms and any plan submittals for any addition, remodel alterations, modifications, etc. that illustrates all possible shutoff valve installation/location scenarios in the walls, brick mantel face, floor, bookshelf, and so on within 6’, with a “NOTE: Valve and gas piping shall not be embedded in masonry.” (But damned if I can’t get it to ‘copy & paste’ from any of their ‘read only’ .pdf files)

    YMMV

    Steve L.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stichter View Post
    Cannot assume it was...removing the stone to expose the valve for access would be the recommendation...just wanted to explain why it was not allowed.
    Chris,
    Many times the gas line feeding the fireplace is visible from the crawlspace, or an unfinished basement. It IS quite possible to see if the gas line has been disconnected.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Steve...Well explained and argumented. I couldn't agree more. Nice post and you saved me from posting a similar position.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    But there is no appliance at present. If the pipe was connected to something (appliance) then the IRC G2420.5.1 (409.5.1) would apply.
    The "appliance" is not required to be "present" as that section of the code is addressing the appliance "shut off valve" ... and the appliance "shut off valve" IS present and therefore access is required.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Chris,
    Many times the gas line feeding the fireplace is visible from the crawlspace, or an unfinished basement. It IS quite possible to see if the gas line has been disconnected.

    Agreed Jack...thank you for the constructive feedback. In this case, the home was slab on grade. The gas piping was routed on top of the low sloped roof and a shut off was not installed. ScreenHunter_17 Nov. 13 18.26.jpg


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    The gas stub inside the fireplace is not a problem.
    The valve being covered with stone veneer is a problem. It must be accessible for operation and service. These valves do leak on occasion and do need service.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  14. #14
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    Cool Re: Gas Key Covered

    The fireplace itself is not a gas appliance or 'equipment'. It may contain such under specific circumstances but does not constitute such by itself. It does not have a gas burner, flame control or ignition device. There code lists specific listings for approved gas appliances intended for use inside fireplaces: ANSI Z21.60 vented logs, Z21.84 match lit logs, Z21.50 decorative gas insert, Z21.88 vented room heater insert or Z21.11.2b ventfree logs and CSA 8 log lighter pipe. There is no code requirement to equip all fireplaces to be capable of connecting a gas appliance as is.

    I have spoken with Ted Lemoff, who writes NFPA 54 the Nat'l Fuel Gas Code about Sch. 40 steel pipes capped inside fireplaces. He said he knows of no problems with capped gas pipes inside fireplaces as long as the gas pipe does not see direct flame impingement. However, such a nipple does conduct heat a lot more than you might think. Heatilator states in all their woodburner manuals to provide a 1.5" clearance to combustibles for 4" in a chase as this pipe exits the side of a factory built fireplace. That means it gets really hot. This steel will expand and contract more than the masonry so it is difficult to maintain a proper seal around this pipe. Obviously, it would be advantageous to disconnect and cap this pipe outside of the fireplace in an 'accessible' area, such as a basement.

    Now, these shutoff valves serve two purposes: act as a legal shutoff for appliances and to act as a throttling valve for a log lighter pipe. In the case with a log lighter, you really should have an approved shutoff upstream of this valve. Contrary to the CA code, both the NFGC and IFGC consider the meter or LP tank as the emergency shutoff for a building and appliance shutoffs specifically NOT as emergency shutoffs. As Ted explained, we don't want to encourage anyone to reach into a combustible vapor cloud to shut off the gas--we want them to egress quickly and call the cavalry from outdoors. Now, there are two types of valve construction: plug and ball valves. The old plug valves can be identified by requiring 21 throws of the wrist from full open to full closed. A ball valve is 1/4 turn. The other way to tell is a plug valve utilizes a rising stem while a ball valve is non-displaceable. Most plug type valves are rated 3 psi max. while most ball valves are 5 psi max. These dopey code officials requiring high pressure leak tests cause a lot of unnecessary leaks in these valves. So, having stated this, you need access to these valves to inspect, test for leaks and turn wrenches if need be for service. People in the hearth industry will refer to these as "Dante" valves which refers to the most popular current mfr. of these valves. Peterson and Jones were two other major players. The Peterson valves required a 5/16" square socket key or wrench whereas virtually all others use 1/4". Some genius figured out how to make one wrench fit both sizes God bless him. These keys or wrenches cost about $5-10.00. Some municipalities require these keys be attached to the valve's brass escutcheon plate with a metal chain or leash. BTW, there is a wrench that fits down into the square hole so you can tighten the escutcheon. These plates have an extension much like a long female nipple. The valve is usually mounted roughly flush to the plywood subfloor or wall and the plate is screwed down over the finish materials for a trim look. There are two types of these valves, straight through (actually 'T' shaped for flow left to right) and an angled valve that turns 90 degrees, which is easier to secure but rarely used (my favorite). If this valve can be pulled up and down, write it up as unsecured and a potential leak hazard from flexing and straining the NPT joints.

    Where is the sediment trap for this installation? It must be within 6 feet of the appliance and downstream of the shutoff for access and service.

    The IFGC allows shutoffs to be located remotely from decorative appliances and room heaters under three conditions: It serves only that one appliance, is so labeled, and has 'ready access'. They could have removed this key valve and put a shutoff further upstream where it might be able to meet these three criteria. However, the sediment trap issue remains. BTW, you can install a shutoff inside the fireplace in most jurisdictions if it is so listed (Z21.15).

    HTH,

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    How do we know that the gas valve was covered or was ever present? Everything is supposition and SWAG at this point. I still would not call this out.

    If you report this how do you handle capped off gas dryer lines; capped off outside gas grill lines; capped off cooktop lines, etc... I see capped off has lines often in homes I inspect.

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 11-13-2014 at 09:30 PM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stichter View Post
    Agreed Jack...thank you for the constructive feedback. In this case, the home was slab on grade. The gas piping was routed on top of the low sloped roof and a shut off was not installed. ScreenHunter_17 Nov. 13 18.26.jpg
    Well with that added information the simple thing would be to cap the pipe on the roof and go on with life!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lottatore View Post
    ...............

    2012 International Fuel Gas Code Section 409 – Shutoff Valves:

    409.1.2 Prohibited locations. Shutoff valves shall be prohibited in concealed locations and furnace plenums.
    .................................
    Focusing on 409.1.2 it would appear that appliance/equipment present or not becomes mute. "Concealed location" is the trump.
    /////////
    Scott P., The owner said the valve was there and the owner never lies. Therefore it's there and you would report the source of what you can not see.

    Personally I would suggest drill a 2" hole and put a removable decorative brass plate over the hole. That way the nest owner can take advantage of the gas if they want.

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 11-14-2014 at 06:45 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    How do we know that the gas valve was covered or was ever present? Everything is supposition and SWAG at this point. I still would not call this out.
    You beat me to it, Scott. I read the comments for a while then realized there was no verification that a valve even existed. Good catch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    If you report this how do you handle capped off gas dryer lines; capped off outside gas grill lines; capped off cooktop lines, etc... I see capped off has lines often in homes I inspect.
    I don't think that any of the devices that you mentioned have the potential to easily explode from a very hot and unwanted heat source similar to that in a fireplace. And, you can inspect them----they are out in the open. If someone has a roaring fire in the fireplace, and the stack shifted towards or over the pipe (and it didn't really have a valve, there might be a problem.

    Best to err towards safety and call it, especially when you can't inspect the valve or it's condition.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stichter View Post
    The new owners did not want to use gas service and covered the key/valve with stone veneer.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Goeken View Post
    You beat me to it, Scott. I read the comments for a while then realized there was no verification that a valve even existed. Good catch.
    I suspect that most of us already caught that and what was stated: that the new owners covered the valve.

    Short of digging back into the wall, which Holmes would do with a sledge hammer, the new owner stating that they covered the valve should be verification enough that the valve is there.

    Are you and Scott saying that when an owner tells us something was covered up that we should not believe them that it was actually there?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Gas Key Covered

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .......Short of digging back into the wall, which Holmes would do with a sledge hammer, the new owner stating that they covered the valve should be verification enough that the valve is there.
    Actually, the sledge hammer is reserved for large jobs. For this job you would only need a small 48 oz blacksmith hammer (small job).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Are you and Scott saying that when an owner tells us something was covered up that we should not believe them that it was actually there?
    Well.... (putting on the thinking hat.... ) I would have to ask myself, is he saying that just appease me and he doesn't know.... he was told that when he purchased the home, but doesn't really know.... or did he cover it up and it was really there and it was off???? Answer: (based upon what I can see)----YES!!


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