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#69434 - 09/09/06 08:00 PM How would you handle this?  
ShockMe77  Offline
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 821
Rahway, New Jersey
I was working today installing RNC conduit underground to feed an existing built-in pool electrical system. The existing EMT was run along a brick wall and had come apart at one of the couplings, not to mention it was rusty and looked like hell. Upon further review, the EMT was used as the EGC for the pool. No seperate equipment conductor was run. Therefore, we had swimming pool equipmnt that was not grounded, or bonded. Bad news no matter what.

Anyhow, as I was using the rented ditchwith to make my trench when low and behold I started to smell gas. I had hit a 1" black plastic pipe that was being used to feed the pool water heater. Ut-oh. It was buried, oh, about 12-14" below the grade. I went inside the house, told the homeowners what had happened, and tried to turn a gas valve off myself. But there was no shutoff for this particular run. Now the gas company gets a call and a service man has to come out to the house to shutoff the main.

I called a few plumbers that I know to "bail me out" but one was on vacation, another couldn't get there because of another job he was on, and another said he couldnt get there until Monday.

I felt about 'this big' having to tell a good, repeat customer that she wouldn't have gas until Monday morning at the earliest.

How would you have handled this?

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#69435 - 09/09/06 08:23 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
Surfinsparky  Offline
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 73
merritt island fl usa
Hope you called in a locating service.

#69436 - 09/09/06 08:41 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
ShockMe77  Offline
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 821
Rahway, New Jersey
No, I didn't. And that is where I made my 1st mistake. I realize this.

#69437 - 09/09/06 08:58 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,140
We hit a gas line that the locate missed and the backhoe driver just bent it over like a garden hose and that shut off the gas ... pretty much. You couldn't smell it anymore. He said the line is designed that way but that could just be an opinion. We taped it up and finished the digging at the other end until the gas guys came.
Nobody had that line on their plats so we got away with it.

Greg Fretwell

#69438 - 09/09/06 09:41 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
togol  Offline
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 421
sounds like you just made an honest but dumb mistake..

.like there could be a smart mistake eh?

being upfront about it doesn't always sit well with some folks, but you can look in the mirror in the morning !

aside from all the other costs you have, maybe you could offer to put them up in a hotel / motel ....if they are a good customer for you.


#69439 - 09/09/06 09:46 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
mahlere  Offline
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 507
New Jersey
honestly, you may have an issue with not getting a markout. you are in NJ, right? they don't take to kindly to it here.

2nd, you should have bit the bullet and called any plumber that would have come out today. it would have cost you more right now, but what about the long run.

You could do the hotel, but if the customer has kids, it's still a big inconvenience.

best would have been to not rely on a plumber you know, and just get one out now. Especially because it sounds like you are going to hit them with extra work (beyond the original scope) in order to fix that emt and bring it up to code.

the extra work would be easier to digest without being told that they won't have gas till monday. (gas water heater? stove? dryer? all of the above?)

if you have to, get someone out there tomorrow. it will cost you, but your customer will appreciate it more and may actually hire you again in the future.

Good luck.

[This message has been edited by mahlere (edited 09-09-2006).]

#69440 - 09/09/06 11:08 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
JJM  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 100
Well, that's what happens when you use substandard materials... plastic for gas... and I would emphasize this to the property owner. If the run was galvanized steel, this likely would not have happened.

It seems everyone has become blaze' when it comes to gas. Years ago, gas systems were spec'd out using the strongest possible materials. Now I see copper and flexible lines in resi work, where its too easy for a HO to knick it when hanging up a picture or shelf. Problem is, gas hasn't gotten any less dangerous over time.

Ditto for your conduit, not too late to switch to galvanized RMC. Of course, many will talk about the increased costs of using "extreme" or commerical materials, but a home is the single biggest investment most people will ever make in their lifetimes, so what's a few extra dollars to go for the best? In this case, they're probably not starving since they have a HEATED pool.

In any event, since natural gas pressures is less than 1/2 of 1 pound PSI, and the gas line is crapy plastic, you could've easily repaired the line temporarily (or perhaps even permanently) while still in service... just cut out the damaged section of the line, prep the end, and glue a cap on it. Or you could've made up a 1" section of PVC with a cap, and use a band coupling attach to the pressure end of the line. Again, you could blow through a straw much harder than natural gas flows through lines.

I think you guys here chastizing him for not getting a markout are being totally unfair. The only thing a markout would've done is cover his rear. It wouldn't have prevented this; the same thing would've happened either way because considering the way the electric was installed, permits were never filed because there's no way this would've passed. So what makes you think gas permits were pulled? A lot pool work is unpermited. So much for the markout then.

Since you're cleaning up the obvious mess left by the pool contractor, this is something else you can add to the blame list.

There is also this issue of why the gas line wasn't buried deeper. You might want to check with your local code. Ditto for the plastic pipe. You might not be in the wrong at all here.


#69441 - 09/09/06 11:27 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
NORCAL  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 874
I was under the assumption that locating services (USA here in CA.)did not locate cust. owned piping.Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

#69442 - 09/09/06 11:34 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
caselec  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 558
San Jose, CA

What is wrong with underground plastic gas piping? It has been used for many years and is far superior to metallic piping. Galvanized steel piping has never been approved for underground installations. Well I guess you could use it if you wanted to take the time to prime and wrap all of the piping. Metallic underground gas piping must have an approved plastic coating on it.

I also disagree with you comment about RNC being inferior for underground installations. In my opinion RMC is an inferior product for use underground. I have seen RMC almost completely destroyed from the soil within in a few years in my area. If I run into situation where deep trenching is not feasible I usually recommend Ocal or =.


Curt Swartz

#69443 - 09/09/06 11:41 PM Re: How would you handle this?  
caselec  Offline
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 558
San Jose, CA

That is what I was thinking when reading the comments about calling a locating service. In our area USA (Underground Service Alert) only locates utility owned systems. Privately owned systems on private property are fair game. I always advise the customer that I will not be responsible for damage to any underground piping if they can not provide a location.


Curt Swartz

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