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Exposed gas line in living space.


mgbinspect
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1910 row house, nicely upgraded throughout. Of course, I know that the gas line exposed like this in the living room is wrong, but it may be grand-fathered.

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I'm looking for two things regarding this set-up:

1. Specific code that addresses this setup. I am not finding anything in my CodeCheck docs.

2. Sound boilerplate addressing the general safety concern and recommendation to correct it even if grand-fathered. I already have some basic boilerplate about this condtion, but I really wish to make it a bit more authoritative.

As always, thanks in advance.

Mike

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This was all I could find in the 06' International Gas Code:

409.5 Equipment shutoff valve. Each appliance shall be provided with a shutoff valve separate from the appliance. The shutoff valve shall be located in the same room as the appliance, not further than 6 feet (1829 mm) from the appliance, and shall be installed upstream from the union, connector or quick disconnect device it serves. Such shutoff valves shall be provided with access.

Exception: Shutoff valves for vented decorative appliances and decorative appliances for installation in 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. Piping from the shutoff valve to within 3 feet (914 mm) of the appliance connection shall be sized in accordance with Section 402.

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.

Marc

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I doubt that a setup like that would ever be considered "grandfathered" or safe. Just state the condition and why it is a problem. Trip hazard, someone could bang into it with a sweeper and I'm sure small children would be fascinated by it. There are a dozen reasons why it's wrong.

I think it was J.K. that discussed why citing code isn't necessary. He said something along the lines of "electrical hazards aren't concerned with code" (I'm pretty sure I butchered what was a very good summarization, sorry Jim).

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I doubt that a setup like that would ever be considered "grandfathered" or safe. Just state the condition and why it is a problem. Trip hazard, someone could bang into it with a sweeper and I'm sure small children would be fascinated by it. There are a dozen reasons why it's wrong.

I think it was J.K. that discussed why citing code isn't necessary. He said something along the lines of "electrical hazards aren't concerned with code" (I'm pretty sure I butchered what was a very good summarization, sorry Jim).

Yep, I never actually mention codes. My favorite worn out statements are, "..not to current safety standards." or ".. not in keeping with current standard trade practices."

The tripping deal is my main concern. If it were steel so one couldn't possibly rupture the pipe, I'd feel better about the affair. They did have a heavy duty fire screen around it all.

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Proposed note: "The fuel supply lines for the gas fired coal baskets in the fireplaces on the main level are not to current safety standards. They pose a possible tripping hazard and the materials are soft enough to be easily ruptured by blunt force. While this setup may have been acceptable when the gas units were installed, it is not safe and modifications to meet current safety standards should be made as soon as possible."

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. . . Yep, I never actually mention codes. My favorite worn out statements are, "..not to current safety standards." or ".. not in keeping with current standard trade practices."

Aside from making your report really vague, what possible advantage is there to saying those things?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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"I guess I'm just not seeing the hazard here. Who the heck walks 6" away from a wall in front of a fireplace? Wouldn't they run into the mantel?"

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Sadly, a few seasons ago, that would have been MY response, and still remais my general attitude. But a world full of less tolerant Home Inspectors makes it difficult to be sensible, without it becoming a future problem.

Sometimes, finding the happy medium is a challenge, isn't it?

I've seen a lot of change in our profession in seventeen years - some better and some worse.

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. . . Yep, I never actually mention codes. My favorite worn out statements are, "..not to current safety standards." or ".. not in keeping with current standard trade practices."

Aside from making your report really vague, what possible advantage is there to saying those things?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I could not be more sincere in inviting you to expound, because until you do, your statement is no less vague. If you have a strong opinion make it clear. I see myself as both a student and a teacher here. School me.

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Proposed note: "The fuel supply lines for the gas fired coal baskets in the fireplaces on the main level are not to current safety standards. They pose a possible tripping hazard and the materials are soft enough to be easily ruptured by blunt force. While this setup may have been acceptable when the gas units were installed, it is not safe and modifications to meet current safety standards should be made as soon as possible."

Jeez, that really sucks.

How about this:

At the first floor fireplaces, the gas pipes run across the floor where people could trip on them. Hire a gas pipe fitter to move the pipes to a safer location.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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. . . Yep, I never actually mention codes. My favorite worn out statements are, "..not to current safety standards." or ".. not in keeping with current standard trade practices."

Aside from making your report really vague, what possible advantage is there to saying those things?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I could not be more sincere in inviting you to expound, because until you do, your statement is no less vague. If you have a strong opinion make it clear. I see myself as both a student and a teacher here. School me.

If your objection to an installation is based on the code, just say so. Don't dance around with euphemisms. That only makes things less clear. It's no help to tell someone that something doesn't meet a standard if you don't tell them what the standard is. Likewise, telling someone to alter a thing to meet a standard without citing that standard is not helpful.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Proposed note: "The fuel supply lines for the gas fired coal baskets in the fireplaces on the main level are not to current safety standards. They pose a possible tripping hazard and the materials are soft enough to be easily ruptured by blunt force. While this setup may have been acceptable when the gas units were installed, it is not safe and modifications to meet current safety standards should be made as soon as possible."

Jeez, that really sucks.

How about this:

At the first floor fireplaces, the gas pipes run across the floor where people could trip on them. Hire a gas pipe fitter to move the pipes to a safer location.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

[:-thumbu] I can live with that. [^]

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. . . Yep, I never actually mention codes. My favorite worn out statements are, "..not to current safety standards." or ".. not in keeping with current standard trade practices."

Aside from making your report really vague, what possible advantage is there to saying those things?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I could not be more sincere in inviting you to expound, because until you do, your statement is no less vague. If you have a strong opinion make it clear. I see myself as both a student and a teacher here. School me.

If your objection to an installation is based on the code, just say so. Don't dance around with euphemisms. That only makes things less clear. It's no help to tell someone that something doesn't meet a standard if you don't tell them what the standard is. Likewise, telling someone to alter a thing to meet a standard without citing that standard is not helpful.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I've always tried to, rightly or wrongly, avoid inserting code - chapter and verse into my reports. Yet, most of the time real threats to safety are obvious without mentioning codes. I suppose it may be one of those areas in which I may need to "get with the times". And, frankly, hanging out here gives one a bit of the general climate change in our profession.

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This is a gas line and heater that was added later. I don't like the set up myself.

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The gas line is hard to see. It is coming in from the floor to the right of the fireplace

Ugly as sin. But unless folks in your area are accustomed to storing their pick axes next to the fireplace, I don't really see a big problem.

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I've always tried to, rightly or wrongly, avoid inserting code - chapter and verse into my reports. Yet, most of the time real threats to safety are obvious without mentioning codes. I suppose it may be one of those areas in which I may need to "get with the times". And, frankly, hanging out here gives one a bit of the general climate change in our profession.

My point is, if you're going to conjure up a code, then go ahead & name it. That doesn't mean that you have to conjure it.

There really isn't a code, standard, or practice that addresses this anyway, so why mention one? If you say that this doesn't meet "safety standards" then people are going to wonder, "What standards?" And you'll be stuck replying, "Geez, I don't know, I just thought it sounded good." If you tell them to make modifications to meet safety standards, anyone with a brain is going to ask what standard, exactly, it should meet. And, once again, you'll be stuck saying, "I dunno."

If you're not willing to mention the code, you should't be mentioning "safety standards" either. Whatever objection you have to mentioning code would apply just the same to a nebulous "safety standard."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I've always tried to, rightly or wrongly, avoid inserting code - chapter and verse into my reports. Yet, most of the time real threats to safety are obvious without mentioning codes. I suppose it may be one of those areas in which I may need to "get with the times". And, frankly, hanging out here gives one a bit of the general climate change in our profession.

My point is, if you're going to conjure up a code, then go ahead & name it. That doesn't mean that you have to conjure it.

There really isn't a code, standard, or practice that addresses this anyway, so why mention one? If you say that this doesn't meet "safety standards" then people are going to wonder, "What standards?" And you'll be stuck replying, "Geez, I don't know, I just thought it sounded good." If you tell them to make modifications to meet safety standards, anyone with a brain is going to ask what standard, exactly, it should meet. And, once again, you'll be stuck saying, "I dunno."

If you're not willing to mention the code, you should't be mentioning "safety standards" either. Whatever objection you have to mentioning code would apply just the same to a nebulous "safety standard."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

One can't argue with that logic.

I suppose the real problem is that I always assumed that there was a specific code about softer metal gas ditribution lines exposed in traffic areas, like the living or dining room, where they might accidentally be ruptured or pulled apart.

In most cases, when I refer to safety standards, it's regarding such issues as: railing or stair construction; the lack of GFCI in areas; etc. (the obvious)

The practice, on my part, comes from too many past home inspector seminars, where a guest attorney said, "Don't site code." I guess it's possibly become an old trick for an old dog.

Discussions like this one are precisely what I like about hanging out here - being challenged to free our minds a bit. The point is well taken. I believe that I'll be somewhat more mindful about how best to convey a legitimate concern - especially when it is in respet to a known code that does not apply to a home, due to its age. That, for me, is always a tough subject to dance around.

Unfortunately, this is all a bit late for this report, since I fired it off before you offered food for thought. I doubt I'll get a call, since the client and I discussed the whole affair on site, but one never knows...

[:-graduat

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Astonishment is the basis for all philosophy (paraphrasing Tillich). This is an astonishingly philosophical discussion about how we describe stuff in this thing that we do.

I hate all that dancing around with vaguely referenced standards that don't exist.

It's a flex aluminum tube connected with flare fittings. Anyone's every worked with aluminum and flare fittings knows small impacts kink the pipe, or make the flare fitting leak. I don't like it for those two reasons.

Expose a flex aluminum flare fitting in habitable space, provide fire, and folks, especially kids, flock to it. That, by itself, makes it dangerous as far as I'm concerned.

"The fireplace gas line is exposed to damage; if damaged, it can/will leak. Provide an impact barrier or replace the aluminum with rigid pipe."

Or something like that, but don't go off on the "generally accepted standard/nonexistent code reference" stuff.

If you don't think it's dangerous, don't write it up.

Personally, I would.

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Astonishment is the basis for all philosophy. This is an astonishingly philosophical discussion about how we describe stuff in this thing that we do.

I hate all that dancing around with vaguely referenced standards that don't exist.

It's a flex aluminum tube connected with flare fittings. Anyone's every worked with aluminum and flare fittings knows small impacts kink the pipe, or make the flare fitting leak. I don't like it for those two reasons.

Expose a flex aluminum flare fitting in habitable space, provide fire, and folks, especially kids, flock to it. That, by itself, makes it dangerous as far as I'm concerned.

"The fireplace gas line is exposed to damage; if damaged, it can/will leak. Provide an impact barrier or replace the aluminum with rigid pipe."

Or something like that, but don't go off on the "generally accepted standard/nonexistent code reference" stuff.

If you don't think it's dangerous, don't write it up.

Personally, I would.

While I've possibly done a poor job at expressing the concern, we're on the same page.

I'm still operating on an old promise from attorneys, which basically suggests: "If you site code, we're going to feel free to demand that you know ALL code - if you apply it here, you better not miss it anywhere else in the house, either." I've never raised my reluctance to include code in my reports, because I'm reasonably confident there are threads a mile long on this argument already.

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I'm still operating on an old promise from attorneys, which basically suggests: "If you site code, we're going to feel free to demand that you know ALL code - if you apply it here, you better not miss it anywhere else in the house, either." I've never raised my reluctance to include code in my reports, because I'm reasonably confident there are threads a mile long on this argument already.

I would respond to the dipshit attorney by demanding that if they cite a law, then I am going to demand that they know all the law on everything relating to human interaction, and to apply it in any conversation we are having on any topic.

That old idea has been flogged forever by HI's everywhere, and I've yet to find an attorney that gives it the slightest bit of credence.

What the idea is saying, both in effect and in fact, is that we are not allowed to use reference material for our opinions. None of them, not a one. If we do, then we have to use reference material for any utterance related to our job.

Why? Because everything we do or say goes to the building code in one way or another.

I don't like that idea, and am reasonably sure it has no basis in anything other than HI folklore.

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I'm still operating on an old promise from attorneys, which basically suggests: "If you site code, we're going to feel free to demand that you know ALL code - if you apply it here, you better not miss it anywhere else in the house, either." I've never raised my reluctance to include code in my reports, because I'm reasonably confident there are threads a mile long on this argument already.

I would respond to the dipshit attorney by demanding that if they cite a law, then I am going to demand that they know all the law on everything relating to human interaction, and to apply it in any conversation we are having on any topic.

That old idea has been flogged forever by HI's everywhere, and I've yet to find an attorney that gives it the slightest bit of credence.

What the idea is saying, both in effect and in fact, is that we are not allowed to use reference material for our opinions. None of them, not a one. If we do, then we have to use reference material for any utterance related to our job.

Why? Because everything we do or say goes to the building code in one way or another.

I don't like that idea, and am reasonably sure it has no basis in anything other than HI folklore.

Bless you sir. Sometimes, once I've set a course, it remains set in stone, whether reasonable or not. [:-snorkel

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