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Gas piping blockages or clogs in buildings for natural gas, LP gas, or propane:
How to find and clear or de-clog a blocked natural gas or LP gas pipe or gas line to an appliance or to a gas light.
In this article series on gas piping we provide descriptions and photographs of unsafe gas piping, indications of unsafe or improperly operating gas appliances, gas meters, and other gas installation defects are provided.
Above/left, an image of an outdoor gas light in Moenchbruch, Germany, Wikipedia 2017 cited at REFERENCES
For un-clogging a natural gas or LP gas pipe we start with some questions and include a safety warning.
First: anyone, even an expert, must be sure that the gas supply is turned OFF before fooling with gas piping at all.
What is the gas pipe material and diameter? If it's black iron pipe 1/2" or larger you or your plumber may be able to run a 1/4" diameter drain auger through the piping run.
Smaller gas lines such as 3/8" or 1/2" flexible copper tubing or flexible stainless steel tubing are sometimes cleared by pushing a wire through the piping but at least with flexible tubing I'd prefer to use a smooth flexible plastic probe since scoring the interior of thin walled gas piping may cause damage or even a future point of corrosion and leakage.
But I'd be wary of ANY de clogging effort if the clog is due to rust, debris, or insects.
That's because any debris remaining in the gas line risks clogging a gas orifice or control - making the gas light unreliable or even possibly unsafe.
For an outdoor gas light or appliance whose gas supply line is buried, water leaking into the gas line can cause a blockage or can cause corrosion that blocks the line. Just 4" of water pressure can be enough to block a natural gas line.
Water in a gas pipe is almost certainly from a leak, not from "condensation" as the water content of LP or natural gas is very low.
Our image above illustrates a gas line riser intended for use with plastic gas piping. Produced by RW Lyall the Lyco® flexible riser seals and protects the plastic gas pipe where it enters or exits the ground. That's a common point at which water enters a buried gas line.
Below is an example of CSST, flexible corrugated stainless steel tubing used in some gas piping installations and described in detail at GAS PIPING, FLEXIBLE CSST.
Watch out: If you find water in the gas line and it's corroded and/or the leak is not an obvious one easily repaired, that gas line should be replaced as it is unsafe, risking not just a gas appliance that doesn't work but also a gas explosion.
Your plumber may have or have access to a small-diameter pipe borescope that would permit inspection of the pipe interior. That would be worthwhile if you want to investigate the possibility of being able to avoid having to simply replace the line.
Plumbers often replace outdoor gas piping with continuous, waterproof, flexible polyethylene gas piping with risers at the pipe entry and exit points to keep water out of the system.
Producers of PVC or polyethylene gas piping and its connecting fittings include Dormont, DriscoPlex, GasTite, Endot, Pro-Flex, Lyall Lyco, Yellowpipe, and others.
Your plumber will find these at both plumbing suppliers and at building supply outlets such as Home Depot and Lowes.
So find out what has caused the clogged gas pipe. And replace the line if it contains water, rust, corrosion debris.
Research on clogged gas piping
Enbin, Liu, Li Changjun, Peng Shanbi, and Zhang Hongbing. "Detection Technology for Pipeline Plugging Based on Barotropic Wave Method." Natural Gas Industry 26, no. 4 (2006): 112.
Ng, Heng-Joo, and Donald B. Robinson. "Hydrate formation in systems containing methane, ethane, propane, carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide in the presence of methanol." Fluid Phase Equilibria 21, no. 1-2 (1985): 145-155. Abstract: Experimental measurements have been made on the initial hydrate formation temperatures and pressures in systems containing methane, ethane, propane, carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide in the presence of methanol solutions. The methanol solutions were varied from 5 to 20% by weight. The temperature range for hydrate formation was from about −10 to 17°C and the pressure range from 0.8 to 20 MPa. The results were compared with predictions made using the Hammerschmidt equation. Reasonably good agreement was found for the aqueous liquid—hydrate—gas region but poor agreement was found in the aqueous liquid—hydrate-former liquid—hydrate region. Excerpt: It was pointed out by Ham- merschmidt (1939) that gas hydrates were the cause of blocked natural
Rogers, Rudy, Guochang Zhang, Jennifer Dearman, and Charles Woods. "Investigations into surfactant/gas hydrate relationship." Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 56, no. 1 (2007): 82-88.
Stoll, Robert D., and George M. Bryan. "Physical properties of sediments containing gas hydrates." Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 84, no. B4 (1979): 1629-1634.
Tsochatzidis, Nikolaos A., and Konstantinos E. Maroulis. "Methods help remove black powder from gas pipelines." Oil and gas journal 105, no. 10 (2007): 52. Excerpt: Clogging of instrumentation and valves. ... As a result, other gas filtration devices along DEPA's
system clogged regularly and had to be replaced.
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Gas street lighting: 2017/04/22, original source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_light
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