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  1. #1
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    Default Gas pipe configuration

    Hey and greetings again HI's,

    These lines supply two high efficiency, propane fueled furnaces. One for the first floor, one for the second floor (one is right side up and the other upside down). I would like to report this strange piping configuration, mainly because I know that the less fittings there are in gas lines the better, and they have no sediment traps. I also don't like the way the yellow lines are bent and turned.

    I would appreciate some opinions on the piping part,
    whether or not this is a defect because of lousy planning by the installer
    or
    a best practice kinda call
    or it doesn't matter don't report it kinda call.

    The piping runs in between the two furnaces. I might have uploaded the pics in opposite order than I had intended. the first pic should be one of both furnaces in the garage. Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Artistic piping is allowed and the number of elbows is not a concern. You are correct about the sediment traps (drip legs). Know what your AHJ allows. Some AHJs don't want to see galvanized on gas lines.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    You are correct about the sediment traps (drip legs).
    I haven't looked at the photos to comment on them, but the above "sediment traps (drip legs)" is incorrect as "sediment traps" and "drip legs" are two for two totally different purposes and are located at totally different locations for different reasons.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I haven't looked at the photos to comment on them, but the above "sediment traps (drip legs)" is incorrect as "sediment traps" and "drip legs" are two for two totally different purposes and are located at totally different locations for different reasons.
    The NHIE Home Inspection Manual states:I quote,

    "A sediment trap is a configuration of solid pipe fittings intended to keep debris from entering a gas appliance and restricting gas flow through the orifice or burners. A sediment trap is recommended near appliances such as furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. The sediment trap should be installed near the appliance and downstream from the shut off valve."

    " A drip leg (drip tee) is intended to keep moisture from entering a gas appliance and fouling or rusting the appliance. A drip leg is recommended when wet gas is present. Wet gas is uncommon in modern gas distribution systems, so drip legs are rarely necessary."


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Chambers View Post
    The NHIE Home Inspection Manual states:I quote,

    "A sediment trap is a configuration of solid pipe fittings intended to keep debris from entering a gas appliance and restricting gas flow through the orifice or burners. A sediment trap is recommended near appliances such as furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. The sediment trap should be installed near the appliance and downstream from the shut off valve."

    " A drip leg (drip tee) is intended to keep moisture from entering a gas appliance and fouling or rusting the appliance. A drip leg is recommended when wet gas is present. Wet gas is uncommon in modern gas distribution systems, so drip legs are rarely necessary."
    The other main difference is location:
    - Sediment traps are to be located at the appliance. This is to catch sediment/particles in the gas flow.
    - Drip legs are to be located at the lowest point in the piping system, which is seldom at the appliance. This is to catch the moisture which collects on the inside of the piping and runs down to the lowest point in the system (gravity wins again ... gravity always ends up winning).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    I grinned to myself when I made my first post, because I knew someone would jump on the sediment/drip discussion. In the last few years, I've spoken to plumbers and HIs from all over the world. For almost all of them, the terms are either interchangeable or "sediment trap" is not recognized. Most don't know the technical difference. Here's the slide that I use in class.


    Once upon a time, not so distant, the quality of gas was much poorer than we have today. Natural gas was (and still is, but not so much as in the past) a collection of gases, some of which condense at temps as high as 50 degrees. A drip leg sometimes caught more than H2O. I've never encountered a "wet gas" situation and around here, true drip legs are not required.

    And back in those days, steel piping was lower quality and with wetter gas, rust particles were common. A sediment trap was important. Today, our gas is drier and cleaner. Steel, if used, is better quality. Rarely does it matter, but a sediment trap is still required, just in case. From what I hear, true drip legs are no longer required in most of North America. I see installations missing the sediment trap, all the time, and though everything is chugging along just fine; I report missing sediment traps.

    But it is my observation, that the term "sediment trap" has been co-oped by the term "drip leg". Twenty years ago, I wrote up missing sediment traps and had an occasional plumber ask me what a sediment trap is. I learned that all plumbers recognizes the term "drip leg". They all know it goes near the gas appliance. I've never gotten a call from anyone asking me what is or where a drip leg goes. Although, I'm asked if they ever fill up or need to be emptied.

    Language is constantly changing. Terminology of yesterday gets lost or supplanted. Degradation of language is part of this, but a lot of it is just the evolution of language. (We could discuss if all of this evolution is for the best, but that is a tangent)

    The argument that using precise terminology is a good one, but looses importance when the distinction isn't recognized. If you are in an area where both sediment traps and drip legs are required, then the distinction is important for precision.

    And different areas use different terminology. Make your life easier by using the terminology recognized in your area. But, if you think part of your job is to educate area trades people to use arcane terminology, then knock yourself out.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    ... But it is my observation, that the term "sediment trap" has been co-oped by the term "drip leg". Twenty years ago, I wrote up missing sediment traps and had an occasional plumber ask me what a sediment trap is. I learned that all plumbers recognizes the term "drip leg". They all know it goes near the gas appliance. I've never gotten a call from anyone asking me what is or where a drip leg goes. Although, I'm asked if they ever fill up or need to be emptied.

    Hi Lon,

    I see your point, but I have a different way to look at it.

    I have had clients who have used the term joist when referring to a rafter. Do I correct them or allow that individual to continue? Or, Jerry's perennial windmill, service equipment vs. main panel. I have had clients, agents and electricians refer to the service equipment as the "main panel" and others have referred to the interior panel as the "main panel". I even had one person correct another with an incorrect term (no no, the main panel is outside, this is the subpanel). Is it "hot water heater" or "water heater"? Why would you need to heat water that was already hot? Is the foundation made from cement or concrete? Is it (this one drives me nuts) efflorescence or effervescence? Does using correct terminology really matter in a report?

    But, on the other side, why not just call the studs, headers, joists and rafters "wood thingys" and the circuit breaker equipped service equipment a "fuse panel"?

    I understand that you really don't want to educate everyone who reads your report, but if an inspector were to recommend installation of a "drip leg" in a report when he/she meant "sediment trap" and a drip was installed instead of the sediment trap, then there might be a problem. Even your use of sediment/drip might be problematic. Ultimately, the plumber would be responsible, but the inspector would likely be dragged into it if the comment was unclear.

    Also, while I would agree with you that gas today is cleaner, the same is not necessarily true of the interior of pipes. I have seen pipes on construction sites laying in the soil with dirt in the end, and they are not always scrupulously cleaned by the plumber prior to charging the system with gas. I believe the sediment trap is still necessary.

    I include a glossary of many of the terms that I use in my report and rarely get calls asking for terminology clarification, even when I use terms like service equipment, sediment trap, concrete or joist.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    But, on the other side, why not just call the studs, headers, joists and rafters "wood thingys" and the circuit breaker equipped service equipment a "fuse panel"?
    Except that terminology has not changed for studs, headers, rafters, and joists. Regarding "service equipment", Jerry lost that argument so many years ago, that he is an anachronism wailing against the tide of sub panels washing in. I have never, not ever, heard an electrician say anything but "sub panel". (Sorry Jerry, but I still think you are "the man")
    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    I understand that you really don't want to educate everyone who reads your report, but if an inspector were to recommend installation of a "drip leg" in a report when he/she meant "sediment trap" and a drip was installed instead of the sediment trap, then there might be a problem. Even your use of sediment/drip might be problematic. Ultimately, the plumber would be responsible, but the inspector would likely be dragged into it if the comment was unclear.
    If you work in an area where true drip legs are required, then the difference matters. Here, they are not required, but sediment traps are. Except they are called drip legs. So, for my area, I am using terminology correctly, because this is the common terminology. Even if it was ignorant plumbers or contractors or gypsy painters who confused and fused the terms together in the distant past, it is now the common usage. Heck, when I was in construction, I never heard the term "sediment trap." It wasn't until I became a home inspector that I encountered the term. It sounds like it's similar where you are.

    As for as educating or not educating. We DO educate. A huge part of our job is educating. We are typically educating our clients on most inspections, but telling a 10-year veteran plumber that "that 'drip leg' is really a sediment trap", isn't going to get either of us anywhere worth bothering to go. I haven't found any confusion on the location of the missing "drip leg", because every plumber has had to put "drip legs" in to get their permits signed off. I might add, since my report has a photo of the absent "drip leg", then it is really hard to get the location wrong. Someday, maybe tomorrow, some smart-ass plumber may call me up to correct me and I'll laugh a lot as I recall this conversation.

    And then there are chimney caps and chimney crowns for another fun conversation.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Ok so, if debris is in the propane then it will drop in to the bottom of the bend in that one yellow line, and possibly clog it or compromise
    the gas flow through it eventually because there is no sediment trap?

    Did I say that right? Am I communicating my concern here correctly? Do I need to comment in my report the reason why having sediment traps installed on both these furnaces, would be a wise thing to do?

    There is only one local company up here who imstalls furnaces. It is very likely the specialist who did the original install will be the same one who they will call to do the sedimemt trap installations. But that should not matter to me.
    Report what I see, make suggestions, let them make the decisions. Stay out of it


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Jerry lost that argument so many years ago.
    Actually, I won that debate years ago, and still am, as many of the better inspectors recognized the usefulness and professionalism in using correct terminology, and more inspectors have acknowledged that over the years.

    Some inspectors insist on ignoring reality and professionalism, using incorrect terminology. They seem to not recognize that the old terms used are from, well, simply past uses, and the using correct terminology over time will lead to the use of correct terminology.

    One can elect to stay with the "I ain't got no ... " crowd, or graduate to the "I don't have ... " crowd.

    It is a personal choice which one makes, and "not making a choice" is actually "making a choice".

    To each their own many get it, some don't.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Chambers View Post
    Ok so, if debris is in the propane then it will drop in to the bottom of the bend in that one yellow line, and possibly clog it or compromise
    the gas flow through it eventually because there is no sediment trap?
    Without a sediment trap, debris could extinguish the pilot, and the thermocouple could fail to shut the gas off to the appliance burner, thereby allowing the gas to keep flowing ' which is a really bad thing to happen.

    Drips, on the other hand, are designed to collect the moisture in the line at one point (the lowest point) and, if the moisture build up is great enough, block the flow of gas to the appliance.

    In both cases, drips and sediment traps, the intent is that the occupants will call for service of the appliance when the appliance does not operate properly (such as limited heat, limited hot water, etc) and the qualified service person will properly address the problem.

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    I thank you all for sharing your time, opinions and advice.

    What you do here IS important work and DOES have an impact on other peoples lives, in a real and positive way. I want you all to know that. If you dont know it already.
    This is just my personal opinion of course, but this is also the truth.
    Big hugs big smiles, thanks.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ... and the qualified service person will properly address the problem.
    Jerry,

    Most of the time your posts are logical, reasonable and well thought-out. Then, you come up with a statement like "qualified service person" and "properly address the problem" in the same sentence.

    I had a good laugh at that.



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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Gas pipe configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ... and the qualified service person will properly address the problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Jerry,

    Most of the time your posts are logical, reasonable and well thought-out. Then, you come up with a statement like "qualified service person" and "properly address the problem" in the same sentence.

    I had a good laugh at that.

    Okay ... I see the error of my ways ...

    Instead of the word "will" between "qualified service person" and "properly address the problem" I should have used the word ... "might" ... as in ... 'If you are lucky ... a qualified service person MIGHT properly address the problem'.

    Me bad ... ... need to avoid using oxymorons.

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

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