If you use flexible gas connectors or CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) when hooking up the gas to a gas appliance, you need to make sure and do it safely. Flexible gas connectors are made of corrugated stainless steel and generally have no outer covering or protection. They are often used to connect a gas appliance to a rigid iron gas line.
CSST, on the other hand, has an outer covering over the corrugated stainless steel, comes in large rolls, and is often used instead of black iron when piping gas lines. There are some installation practices for each of these products that need to be followed to avoid setting up a dangerous situation.
For flexible connectors, it is important that they not be used to go through walls, floors, or the unit cabinet. Iron pipe should pass through the unit cabinet to the gas valve. Contact with the metal side of the furnace cabinet can rub a hole in a flexible connector. Another reason for keeping flexible connectors out of the cabinet is the potential for loose electrical wires or connections to arc against the flexible connector and blow a hole in it. While this could also happen with black iron, there is far less likelihood of the arc blasting a hole in the iron.
Flexible connectors can be used to make the final connection between the black iron leaving the furnace cabinet and the black iron piped into the furnace area. When using a flexible connector, the flared connectors are generally considered “unions.” Don’t forget to install a gas shutoff. Some flexible connectors are provided with a gas shutoff.
CSST is similar to flex connectors in construction with an outer layer of protective plastic. CSST can be pulled through interior walls, but metal nail protectors are required anywhere the CSST is inside the wall. CSST manufacturers make striker plates for this purpose. Protection needs to be approved by a listing agency, such as CSA or UL. Also, it is still best to use black iron to go into the furnace cabinet. The best practice is to penetrate exterior walls with black iron. If CSST is used to penetrate an exterior wall, protection is required.
One of the biggest safety concerns with both flexible connectors and CSST piping is properly grounding the gas piping system. There have been many instances where lightning strikes near a building have blown holes in CSST gas lines or connectors. The grounding is to avoid this. The most common practice is to connect a bonding ground wire to the rigid black iron pipe outside the house BEFORE the first CSST connection. This bonding ground is connected to the ground rod or run inside to the ground bus of the electrical panel.
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