Connecting A Gas Appliance
Natural disasters aren’t nearly as devastating until combined with certain influences courtesy of us – mankind. Take for example the Loma Priata Earthquake that drastically shook San Francisco in 1989. We were called in by several local TV stations to report on what had happened from a housing standpoint and to show Northern Californians how to reduce damage in the event of a future occurrence. We were spellbound when we visited the marina district and found home after home that had been brought to the ground in only a matter of seconds by angry Mother Nature. Fortunately, what we didn’t find were a lot of burnt out buildings – a normal occurrence that follows this kind of disaster. However, we did find that there were homes and office buildings throughout the area that were primed and ready for a major fire. Here’s why. Most of the gas appliances that we surveyed (furnaces, water heaters, radiant heating systems, boiler rental, dryers and ranges) were connected directly to gas supplies via a solid pipe – a definite and dangerous no-no. The dangerous condition to which we refer stems from the fact that there is no give between an appliance and its gas supply line when rigid pipe connects the two. When a gas appliance is vibrated by earthquake movement a rigid gas supply line can easily result in a broken pipe connection. Add a few sparks or a flickering pilot light and kaboom! And a major disaster gets worse.
The neat thing is that you can prepare for such an eventuality by making a tiny investment in replacement parts and by devoting a weekend of your time to your safety and that of your family. All you have to do is make sure that the connection between each and every one of your gas appliances, and their respective supply lines, is made with a flexible hook up.
Note: Purchasing good quality parts is really important here. Believe it or not a cheap gas shut-off valve (gas cock) is more likely to leak than not. It is really frustrating when the task of replacing the connection is complete, a leak test is made and a gas leak is discovered – not a one of your connections – but in the valve that saved you $4. Take our word for it. When it comes to low budget gas cocks — ninety percent of the time you will find the leak in the valve not the connections.
Anyway, changing out your old rigid connection really is a breeze. But first you must be sure to shut off the gas at each of your gas appliances. Do this whether you intend to change all of the connections or not. And be prepared to relight pilots on all of these units when the job is done.
Flexible gas tubing is made of soft copper, it is corrugated so that it will bend easily and utilizes flare fittings at both ends. The thing to remember here is that no matter how your appliance is configured and no matter how the incoming gas line is set up both can easily be adapted to accommodate a flare connection. Keep in mind that it is important for the tubing to be placed straight onto the flare connector. This it is wise to keep the beginning of a bend just a tiny distance away from the connector.
Here’s the order of assembly:
- First, connect the gas cock to the incoming gas line. Extend the gas line as necessary with pre-fabricated fittings and nipples so that once the valve is mounted it will be easy to access. By the way, we suggest that you use a quick throw valve with a long easy-to-turn handle.
- Next, add the necessary adaptor(s) to your appliance so that it will accept a flare fitting.
- Finally, connect the flare fittings on the appliance and the supply with the flexible copper connector. Don’t worry about using a little force here when tightening the connections.
- Once the connections are made turn on the gas and perform a leak test.
Performing a leak test is easy: all you have to do is fill a spray bottle with water and a couple of teaspoons of liquid dish soap. Spray the concoction onto all joints and the valve. Any leak will cause the liquid to bubble. How much easier could it be?
Once your work is complete you will want to relight all of your kitchen appliances. Don’t forget that you must first get the air out of the line before the gas can get to the pilot. And, that’s all there is to it.
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