Should My Gas Piping Be Grounded?

Mechanical codes have improved over the years to ensure our safety and overall integrity of our homes and businesses. Bonding gas pipe to a proper ground is one of those improvements.

If you are in the midst of a do it yourself gas piping job or upgrading an older home then bonding your gas pipe to a proper ground would be the right thing to do. Electrical codes are quite complicated and you can be sure to get the job done right by obtaining a county permit followed by an inspection of your work.

In my experience, county inspectors work very well with home owners. Actually better with home owners than with contractors. Their is hardly any aspect of home improvement that a home owner isn’t allowed to do on there own. This includes electrical and gas piping in most jurisdictions.

Hazards do exist and you should research those safety precautions before proceeding.

But, permits are still required in many cases and because all counties vary slightly on rules and regulations, only by consulting with your local building department can you fully determine the work that does require permitting.

Grounding clamp

It’s also a good way to get some instruction. And, who better to instruct you than the people that will inspect your work. An on the ball inspector may even recognize your abilities and tell you if he or she thinks you should tackle such a project.

I’ve done work in multiple counties and it takes a little while to learn the little in’s and out’s with each county to say nothing about the differences between the individual inspectors.

Like I said, codes can be complicated and inspectors can interpret these codes differently. Sometimes we all just see things a little different.

Does Counter Strike Need To Be Bonded?

There are different types of gas pipe and the reasons for bonding are also different.

TracPipe manufacturers a product called CounterStrike. The installation instructions for CounterStrike corrugated gas pipe don’t require any additional bonding because the outer black jacket or covering is a special material designed to help dissipate any energy created by a lightning strike.

The black conductive jacket of CounterStrike® has been shown to be up to 400 times more resistant to the damaging effects of electrical energy than yellow CSST. It also lays straighter and pulls easier than yellow CSST.

Again remember that local codes rule and local inspectors rule best. My head starts spinning when I read some of these articles and quotes of electrical code. One say that no additional bonding is required and the next sentence says it is to be bonded in accordance with current code.

Systems that are made up of black iron (steel) pipe are bonded to prevent electrical shock in case the pipe comes into contact with an electrical circuit. But, the newer yellow corrugated stainless steel tubing needs to also be grounded to prevent it from exploding if struck by lightning.

Fires have actually been started and homes destroyed by fire. In an article written by Scott Friedman published in 2014 and reported by NBC 5 in Fort Worth, Texas said “how some fire investigators said energy from lightning has punched holes in the tubes, releasing gas and starting fires”.

I think the jury is still out in the proof of what is the safest way to install corrugated stainless steel gas piping. Maybe in areas of excessive thunder and lightning storms you should shy away from corrugated gas pipe.

How Do You Ground A Residential Gas Pipe?

It’s not enough to just attach a wire to a gas pipe with any old clamp you may find in you junk drawer. It has to be an approved clamp. And not just any size wire can be inserted into the clamp.

This ground clamp has #8 wire to the grounded bus inside the electric panel. I’m not an electrician so all I did was follow the instructions from my county inspector who said I should match the wire size of the ground going to the grounding rod outside my shop.

There are instances where you can bond your gas pipe to the equipment that is being fed by the pipe as long as that equipment has a proper ground.

Listen to your county inspectors. They have been wrong before, but it’s not very often. In some areas they have a bad reputation. A group of us contractors actually got an inspector fired because he was being such a butt head. These are rare cases.

Some people have a problem drawing the line between the text book and common sense.

Do I Need A Separate Ground Rod For Gas Line?

When the code book says “electrical bonding” it means to attach to other grounds. Like bonding with your kids or your parents. You don’t go out and get new kids, you connect to the ones you have.

A separate grounding rod would not be necessary or even advisable in complying with local code restrictions. It would be cheaper and easier in most cases to simply bond the gas pipe to an existing ground or equipment being fed by the gas pipe that is properly grounded.

As referenced in en.wikipedia.orgElectrical bonding is the practice of intentionally electrically connecting all exposed metal items not designed to carry electricity in a room or building as protection from electric shock.”

Just think for a moment about all the metal pipe in a house. Mainly water and gas. If for some reason one of these metal pipes comes in contact with a source of electricity it would be “hot” or a very dangerous source of electricity that could be touched or come into contact with who knows who.

Unless that metal pipe has a path to ground all safeties are off. With all piping grounded and bonded then the safeties are on and when that pipe becomes “hot” then the breakers will trip, hopefully. Electricity will take the shortest path to ground.

Have you ever had an appliance like a washer or dryer that seemed to give you a little jolt every so often when you touched it?

A real life example of how inconspicuously this can happen came about on a service call one day. A restaurant owner said every time he touched his stainless steel sink and touched something else near by that was metal he got a serious shock.

When they mounted the sink to the wall, which wasn’t that long ago before the service call, the installer ran a screw into the wall and right into a wire inside the wall. Normally sinks are not bonded, so the path of electricity was to the best source of ground which was when he touched the sink and another grounded object.


Just Bond It

Google’s been spying on me again. I no sooner completed this article than a article popped up in the same same (purposeful repeat) topic. I really liked it and here it is to share. It’s by Matthew Steger, ACI, WIN Home Inspection 

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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