Are you considering the use of galvanized pipe for your gas pipe, or purchasing a home that uses galvanized pipes for gas and wondering if it’s safe? We tackle this debate and discuss the standards, precautions, and risks associated with using galvanized pipes for natural gas lines.
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- What you need to know about using galvanized pipe for gas
- Why galvanized pipe is not recommended for gas
- Is it safe if my house already uses galvanized piping?
- Can you use galvanized fittings?
|What's In This Guide?|
What You Need to Know About Using Galvanized Pipe for Gas
There are two main types of pipes commonly used for natural gas lines. The first is black steel pipe, which is sometimes dark gray. This type of pipe is made without a seam, making it very strong. Black steel pipe is also less expensive than other types of steel pipes.
The second type of pipe is galvanized steel pipe. Galvanized pipe is made by coating the steel with a layer of zinc. The galvanized coating protects the steel from corrosion and makes it more durable, but it only works so well.
Galvanized pipe was once the most common type of pipe used for natural gas lines, but it is no longer allowed in many areas because it can be unsafe due to corrosion and lead particles on the surface of the piping.
Today, black pipes are the preferred choice used by installers and are often required by the national fuel gas code thanks to their corrosion resistance.
The UPC, or Uniform Plumbing Code has amended standards and requirements over the years with regard to using copper pipe for natural gas. Where allowed, it was commonly used throughout the history of water heater connections.
Use throughout an entire building would get rather expensive, safety and approvals aside. Plus, soft copper will not provide the durability required for your natural gas line so many simply go with black piping as a default. Copper is still often used for propane tankless water heaters, though.
Why is Galvanized Pipe Not Recommended for Natural Gas?
First, let’s clarify an important point. People use pipes indoors and also underground. You should never use galvanized pipes for underground gas pipes. The moisture in the soil will accelerate corrosion, and this application is against the building code.
In fact, underground piping is a separate conversation that is outside the scope of this article. We are discussing the use of galvanized pipes for gas inside a home or building, only.
One of the main reasons galvanized pipe is not used in for natural gas in new installations is because it can corrode.
When galvanized pipe is used for natural gas, the zinc coating on the outside of the pipe can break down over time.
This happens because natural gas has sulfur in it, and when sulfur comes into contact with zinc, it can cause corrosion depending upon the thickness of the zinc coating. Furthermore, the zinc coating also contains lead.
The other way that galvanized pipe can corrode is due to the humidity in the home, garage, attic, or basement. Combined water and oxygen are lead factors in the corrosion process.
For this reason installers, inspectors, and local building code typically use black pipe for new natural gas installations.
However, it’s not uncommon for older homes to have galvanized pipe already installed for gas lines. This often arises during a home inspection.
Is a House that Already has Galvanized Pipe for Natural Gas Safe?
If galvanized pipe was used when the home or building’s natural gas lines were originally installed, it is not necessarily unsafe.
However, if you are purchasing a home that has galvanized pipes for natural gas, you should ask the seller to provide proof that the piping has been inspected and is up to current safety standards.
A local home inspector may be helpful during the purchasing process to identify any local building code concerns. You may also pay a plumber to inspect the pipes prior to purchase.
You should also consider budgeting for the replacement of galvanized natural gas pipes when you purchase the home. The lifespan of galvanized steel pipe is around 70 years but varies by the quality of manufacturing, installation, and environmental conditions. It will also depend upon how well it was maintained.
If you are currently using galvanized pipe for natural gas and are concerned about safety, you should contact a licensed professional to have the piping system inspected. A plumber is the licensed professional typically called to find a gas leak, so they will have the proper training and equipment.
While galvanized pipe is no longer the most common type of pipe used for natural gas, it is still safe if it is properly maintained and inspected.
Can You Use Galvanized Fittings On Gas Lines?
Galvanized fittings can be used on gas lines, but they are not as common as black steel fittings. This is for the same reason as the lines themselves.
If you are using galvanized fittings, such as push fit connectors, be sure to have them inspected when you get the rest of the plumbing inspected.
You may also want to consider removing your current fittings and replacing them with steel, copper, or plastic fittings to reduce the risk of corrosion and increase longevity. Always read the specifications to ensure it’s designed for how you plan to use it or risk a gas leak.
The presence of a galvanized fitting in itself isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. However, if you’re replacing or adding a gas line it’s best to simply go with a black pipe fitting instead.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Galvanized Pipe for Gas Piping
Is there black galvanized pipe?
Yes, there is black galvanized pipe. It is a type of steel pipe that has been coated with a layer of zinc to protect it from corrosion. The black color comes from the hot-dip process, which gives the steel a dark-colored appearance. The zinc coating also makes the pipe more durable and resistant to damage.
Can you mix galvanized and black pipe for gas line?
Yes. You can mix galvanized and black iron pipe in your gas line as the two materials don’t create a corrosive reaction.
What kind of pipe should I use for natural gas?
Go with black pipe for natural gas lines. While you can use galvanized pipe above ground, the most popular option for gas lines is corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) since it doesn’t come with the same corrosion problems.
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