In the past many furnace gas valves were connected directly to the flexible gas line connector. Recently installers have been extending black pipe from the gas valve to the exterior of the furnace cabinet.
The manufacturer of flex line simply says “protect from damage”.
I cannot find specific requirement for black pipe extensions in IRC or UMC.
The City of San Antonio has amended the code with an ordinance that states:
Section 304 INSTALLATION of the International Mechanical Code is amended by adding Section 304.12 as follows: 304.12 Installation at gas valve. Black Iron Pipe shall be installed at the gas valve and extended a minimum of two inches outside the gas furnace and gas rooftop unit’s casing and shall be connected to an approved listed flexible gas connector.
It seems the practice of extending black pipe is AHJ specific and that a flex line routed through a furnace casing to the gas valve may actually be acceptable unless otherwise amended.
See photos. Comments please. I am looking for something in code that is as specific as San Antonio ordinance.
I am researching this because an inspector was disciplined for not requiring the black pipe. The expert against the inspector justified his opinion by simply saying it was improper.
The implication is clear. However, if it was such a concern you would think IRC, IMC or the manufacturer would specify the requirement clearly as did San Antonio. It still appears to be local AHJ or inspector judgement based and not a matter of fact.
Why? I only recommend the client consider doing this particular upgrade as a preferred installation method to improve safety. I don’t ever say it’s required by anyone. Same holds true for most other recommended improvements or deficient items I encounter. I don’t see this as any different than any other item we inspect that the codes have changed on over the years since the home was built.
Now, on the other hand, as I read your initial post again then I see that TREC disciplined an inspector for not calling this issue out. I would agree then that is contradictory to the exclusion you quoted. To me the defense would be that the black pipe requirement was not in effect at the time the home was built (I’m assuming that’s the case for the sake of discussion). That argument can be used for thousands of items I’m sure. Obviously, like we’ve discussed before, TREC has elected to require several items to be called out as in need of repair if it doesn’t meet current code, i.e. GFCI’s, so will lack of a furnace black pipe extension now become another ‘must report as in need of repair’? Looks that way.
It is common here for the gas utility company to yellow tag (not supply gas to) the furnace if the flex is running through the furnace housing. They typically require either black pipe extended through the housing or protection (a grommet) installed on the housing opening. When I see this condition I recommend the client contact the gas company to find out what they will require to supply gas to the appliance. I make sure my client understands that if its not taken care of before they move in they will be denied service to the furnace and they will have to pay to make the furnace ok for the gas company to supply gas to.
Thats the problem with any SoP. It departs from code. Then any argument against an inspector is based on code. It is a result of extending home inspection beyond “performance” and into installation and safety.
Inspecting any new furnace in an older home is full of “code” traps. Any old home is a code trap.
non fire door from home to attached garage (a doggy door in it, a glass window or hollow core)
lack of antiscald valves
missing air gap antisiphon device on dishwasher (high loop not permitted)
exposed light bulbs in closets
window sill elevation in bedrooms
and on and on and on.
Even the inspectors who preach “inspect to code” do not really inspect “to code”.
In my opinion, the solution is a “performance” based inspection with code and safety optional. Let the consumer choose the product. Of course any inspector who wants to exceed the SoP for free or a fee is allowed to do so. The judgment of the inspector should be clearly allowed. I would support an ASTM SoP on that line.
John…ain’t that the truth! I too lean towards supporting an ASTM SoP if properly structured and written. Anyway, back to your original post. I think I see the preliminary details of what you are referring to or working on. It seems TREC found an inspector “negligent and incompetent” because he “failed to report as in need of repair a gas line to the furnace made of improper material, in violation of 22 TAC §535.229(t)(6) of the Rules of the Texas Real Estate Commission”.
Now that rule says (in part):
*(t) Heating systems. The inspector shall: *
(6) report as in need of repair gas units that use improper materials for the gas branch line and the connection to the appliance;
I would contend that the gas line material and connection met requirements when the home was constructed and, unless specifically called out in TAC 535.229, then this cannot be held against an inspector since we do not inspect to codes. Now, again, I have to make an assumption here that the gas line in question was of the proper material and installed to mfg requirements and simply did not include the black pipe extension.
I would say TREC was wrong in this interpretation and I see a much larger issue at hand. Hasn’t TREC and specifically TREC counsel gone on record as stating HI’s are not expected to inspect to code? Isn’t a very basic premise of our business operation that if the home and its components met code requirements at the time of construction and deemed to be compliant by the AHJ (i.e. a CO) then we may but are not obligated to recommend upgrades or improvements if we so choose? That is, unless TREC has written specifics into the SoP? That would seem to be the case here wouldn’t it?
FWIW, last week I inspected a home that had been de-winterized and the gas company had come out to turn on the gas and light the pilots. He left a form with the furnace checked as needing repair. His comment was that the flex line needed a rubber grommet where it entered the furnace cabinet. So to one gas company in N. Texas, a rubber grommet is acceptable.
I paid $150 for the last 3 judgments via open records (600 pages; a lot of it redundant stuff). TREC has a very difficult job interpretting these complaints; I would have a hard time responding to a complaint in which I could not visit the property. They are at the mercy of listening to “experts” who often are wrong. My conclusion on the complaints is:
TREC is wrong or kinda wrong on much of their “facts”. Unfortunately their “facts” establish precedent for the new E&O.
TREC uses code to make decisions.
The inspection reports are not well written making it tough for TREC to figure out what is going on.
The “other” inspectors who provided opinion on inspection requirements are wrong themselves and TREC is relying on them.
What a mess. I am going to have a seminar with the three cases. Objective is not to bash TREC or the inspector but to teach inspectors what TREC expects and how they might defer some liability. I doubt TREC will approve the course for CEU.
When I was Chairman I asked for a show of hands to this question: “Raise your hand if you think there is something you missed on the majority of homes you inspect”. All 9 hands were raised. That says the SoP cannot be complied with as expected by Enforcement. It would be interesting to see that vote formalized in the August meeting (the last meeting of the current system). That presents an interesting question. "If the entire Inspector Committee thinks they cannot meet the SoP to Enforcements expectations then is the entire committee negligent and incompetent or is the law voided because it cannot be complied with? Does law have to capable of being complied with? Poor ol inspector is in a “have you stopped beating your spouse” scenario.