Should I Replace My Rusty Gas Pipe?

This image of some rusty gas pipe inside a furnace is a very dramatic display of what moisture can do to steel.

In my experience as an HVAC technician, business owner, and my overall gut feeling about matters such as this, a one answer fits all recommendation on whether or not you should replace your rusty gas pipe can’t be made. However, I can provide some information and considerations that may be helpful in making a decision.

Just so you know, the type of piping used for natural gas and propane can be copper, black iron, or PEX, depending on local codes. Some areas of jurisdiction even allow galvanized pipe. For this article I am only discussing black iron pipe. Neither copper nor PEX will rust.

A rusty gas pipe could potentially be a safety hazard as it may be more prone to leaks or damage. Gas leaks can lead to fires and explosions. I feel stupid saying that but it’s true.  Therefore, it’s important to take any signs of corrosion or rust seriously and address them promptly.

Some of you may be more inclined to be hands on than others. Just be safe. Know where your gas shut offs are and use proper tools. Always keep an emergency gas shutoff tool outside near your gas meter. If you have any doubts, hire a professional. 

Some Factors To Consider If You Have Rusty Gas Piping

Black Iron Pipe is very thick. Generally the rust is just surface rust and surface rust can be sanded or wire brushed to remove most of the rust. A “rust stop” can then be used to actually change the composition of the rust and stop further rusting.

Age of the pipe: The age of the pipe can be a good indicator of whether it’s time to replace it. Personally, I’ve never replaced any black iron pipe because it was old. That stuff is tuff.

Severity of rust: If the pipe has only minor surface rust, it may not be a cause for concern. However, if the rust has penetrated the pipe and caused deep pits or holes, it could be more dangerous and should be addressed promptly.

Location of the pipe: The location of the pipe can also play a role in the decision to replace it. For example, if the pipe is in an area where it could be easily damaged or bumped, such as near a door or in a high-traffic area, it may be more important to replace it.

Get Safety Inspection If You Have Rusty Gas Pipe

It may be helpful to have a professional inspect the pipe and provide their recommendation on whether it should be replaced. A professional can assess the severity of the rust and make an informed recommendation based on their experience and knowledge.

Overall, if you are unsure about the condition of your gas pipe or have any concerns about its safety, it’s important to take action to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

It’s pretty common for black iron gas pipe to rust. We see it all the time on both commercial and residential installations. In one county I had a business in the city and the county had a standing argument about gas pipe. The city required it to be painted so it wouldn’t rust. The county said if you paint it, it will rust on the inside. A contractors life is spent patronizing their inspectors. Don’t panic, stay calm, and be safe.

Chad Peterson

Chad Peterson is near 40 year veteran of the HVAC industry. "I like to explain heating and air conditioning problems in a way the average home owner can understand. "

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