LP Gas & Natural Gas Controls, Tanks, Regulators & Piping
LP & natural gas piping installation, inspection, testing & repair; gas controls, gas regulators & LP gas tank defects
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS - home - CONTENTS: home page for a series of articles explaining how to select, install, troubleshoot or repair LP gas or natural gas controls, valves, piping, & safety devices. Advice for converting between Natural gas and LP gas in a building
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about inspecting, testing, diagnosing, and repairing gas piping, gas regulators, and gas storage tank defects used with LP or natural gas burning appliances
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Gas Controls & Piping:
In this article series we provide descriptions and photographs how to select, install, diagnose or repair leaks or operating problems in fuel gas piping, regulators, or controls used on gas fired appliances or heating equipment, addressing both natural gas and LP gas equipment.
In this article we also discuss the procedure for converting from LP gas or "bottled gas" to natural gas or "piped in gas" at a building.
Beginning here with help in identifying the type of fuel gas supplied at a building: natural gas vs. LPG or propane, this article series describes the selection, installation, troubleshooting & repair of various types of fuel gas controls, gas meters, gas valves, gas piping and gas-fired appliances.
How to Identify the Type of LP Gas or Natural Gas Fuel Source
Immediate LP or natural gas safety hazards: if there is evidence of an LP or natural gas leak at a building, gas odors, for example, you should:
Do not do anything that is likely to cause a gas explosion, such as lighting a match, operating an electrical switch, or even using a telephone in the building
Leave the building immediately and keep a safe distance away - 100 feet or more.
Notify other building occupants of the safety concern
Contact the local gas company and/or fire department
Our photo at left shows a gas meter installed indoors in a building utility basement. This will be a natural gas installation in which fuel gas is delivered to the building by a municipal gas supply system.
How to Recognize Piped in Natural Gas Supply at a Property
Natural gas is supplied by the utility company through piping, usually buried in the street in front of or behind the building, and entering the building through a gas meter which is located outside or at older installations, possibly inside the building.
At above right you will recognize yellow piped-in natural gas supply piping connected to a digital gas meter located on a building in central Mexico.
Above is a large gas meter and regulator installation at a New York facility.
How to recognize LP gas or Bottled Gas Supply at a Property or Building
LP Gas or "bottled gas" or liquid propane gas is supplied (usually) by a local LP gas distributor who fills an LP gas tank located on and serving the building.
The LP gas tank may be above ground (usually at a building exterior wall) or it may be buried at the property. Below at right we show a large LP gas tank or "bottled gas" serving a community of homes.
Natural gas and LP gas appliance compatibility
These two fuels are similar in that both are used to provide energy to home heating systems and other appliances but they have some different properties of operating gas pressure, weight, method of distribution, and chemistry.
Most gas appliances are delivered already set up to use either natural gas or LP gas but not both without having to make some device adjustments or parts changes.
Most gas appliances can be converted from one fuel to the other - what is involved may be simply changing gas metering orifices in the equipment (for example at the burners on a stove) or it may also be necessary to change or adjust a gas regulator located inside the appliance.
Watch out: Do not hook up an LP gas-ready appliance to a natural gas supply nor can you connect a natural-gas ready appliance to an LP gas supply without reviewing and acting on the manufacturer's instructions for converting the appliance from one fuel to the other. It is virtually always the case that some equipment adjustments and changes are necessary to switch between natural gas and propane gas.
As JR, an industry manager familiar with gas pressures pointed out, these two fuel gases operate at different pressures. In residential appliances
Natural Gas system pressure: Natural gas operates at a nominal pressure of 7” WC (about 0.253 psi)
LPG or Liquid Propane Gas system pressure: LP gas or propane operates at a nominal pressure of 11” WC (about 0.397 psi)
Actual NG or LPG gas pressures vary: [Note: the exact pressure you see in the building at an appliance may vary from these numbers depending on the gas distribution piping system size, diameter, number of appliances served, number of appliances operating, regulator adjustment, and other factors.
and LP or NATURAL GAS PRESSURES for a table showing the range of variation
in LP gas pressure in the tank at various temperatures. - Ed.]
Typically the conversion between fuels requires simply the rotation, inversion, or adjustment of parts already present on the gas appliance. From left to right: an oven burner control internal part is rotated to convert between LP or Natural gas. At second from left the stove top gas burner air shutter position is adjusted. At below right, a component inside the gas regulator is inverted.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Details on converting between natural gas & LP gas or bottled gas: if you are planning to convert from one gas fuel to another, such as from LP gas (bottled gas or liquid petroleum gas) to piped in natural gas, see our advice and safety warnings
at GAS APPLIANCE CONVERT LP-NATURAL GAS.
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inspection schedule for gas piping
(Dec 4, 2012) Sergi Solt said:
I live in a 43 years old buiding, with 2 big tanks Gas LP.
How many years last the inside lines of the buiding, before needed inspection or replacement?
Sergi, I've not see a gas piping inspection schedule based on age; But certainly a check for leaks as well as for identity of piping material and its condition would be smart given the building age.
About the question: When does an LP gas tank need replacement, LP Tank replacement rules vary; some tanks have a date stamped into the steel; take a look for that data and then ask your gas supplier about local tank regulations. And of course it's very relevant to state whether this tank is above ground or buried - buried tanks subject to corrosion; above ground tanks subject to mechanical damage;
Finally, your gas company should also inspect the regulator condition.
(Dec 7, 2012) ivan said:
How can you tell if a boiler is hooked up for propane or natural gas?
Ivan, a simple approach for an existing gas boiler is to follow the gas piping to its source - an LP tank or piped in natural gas through a gas meter.
More complex and detailed: the actual burner parts and adjustments need to be swapped or adjusted when changing between natural gas fuel and LP gas fuel for any appliance (not all appliances are convertable). These are discussed in the article above.
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Questions & answers or comments about inspecting, testing, diagnosing, and repairing gas piping, gas regulators, and gas storage tank defects used with LP or natural gas burning appliances
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
U.S. Energy Information Administration - eia.doe.gov/
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - epa.gov/solar/energy-and-you/affect/natural-gas.html
At Natural Gas.Org www.naturalgas.org/environment/naturalgas.asp#emission you’ll find a table of combustion products
At geocities.com/rainforest/6847/report1.html is an interesting and detailed though not “neutral” report on the components and contaminants in the combustion of natural gas. You’ll see a long long list of emissions products, but look again – most of the contaminant levels listed are in the picograms.
apvgn.pt/documentacao/iangv_rep_part1.pdf lists the components in natural gas exhaust from vehicles
The Need Project, Manassas, VA: need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/SecInfo/NGasS.pdf
Kroschwitz, Jacqueline I., and Mary Howe-Grant (eds.). "Gas, Natural." In Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 4th ed., vol. 12. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1993.
Tussing, Arlon R., & Bob Tippee. The Natural Gas Industry: Evolution, Structure, and Economics. 2nd ed. Tulsa, OK: PennWell Publishing, 1995.
Thanks to reader E Leal for suggesting the addition of details about how to convert gas burning appliances from propane to natural gas or from natural gas to propane. 8/4/09
Thanks to reader JR for discussing LP and natural gas operating pressures and leak detection safety, October 2010.
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Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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