When it comes to the type of tubing that is used for distributing gas throughout your home, it is important to find the right material. Homeowners are often looking for a good mix between strength, durability, and affordability. While going through their research, they may find copper tubing and wonder if this is a choice for them with their natural gas.
You can’t use copper tubing for natural gas. While coper tubing is fine to use with propane gas distribution, natural gas and copper do not mix together well. The natural gas will slowly erode the copper tubing, causing it to fail and a big gas leak in your home over time. It is better to use another type of tubing to help with your natural gas needs.
Let’s look closer at why copper tubing is not a good idea for your natural gas needs and how you can pick the right material to safely and effectively bring natural gas into your home.
Is Copper Tubing Allowed for Natural Gas?
According to housing codes, copper tubing or pipe is never allowed in the United States for natural gas distribution at all. This can end up with a very big problem in your home. Many people believe that copper tubing is allowed. However, it is only allowed with propane gas and not with natural gas. If your home has copper tubing inside, it is important to remove it as soon as possible to keep you and your family safe from a major gas leak.
To understand this, you need to understand that there is a difference between natural gas and propone gas. While copper tubing is not allowed by code at all for natural gas distribution, it works just fine, and is allowed by code, for propane gas distribution. Since natural gas and propane gas are two different types of gases, they will react to the copper a little bit differently.
Why Can’t I Use Copper Tubing?
Copper tubing and natural gas just do not mix with one another. Even though copper is inexpensive and seems like a great option, it is just one that you need to avoid if you have natural gas in your home. If you live in an area with propane gas distribution, then it is fine to use copper tubing in your home if you choose, though a stronger metal may still be preferable.
The reason that copper tubing is not a good idea with natural gas is that the gas is able to slowly attack the tubing over time. You will not notice anything right away, but the gas attacking will eventually erode away the tubing and cause it to fail. When tubing that encases a gas fails, you end up with a gas leak. Because of this, copper tubing is no longer up to code in most buildings.
What If I Already Have Copper Tubing In My Pipelines?
If, for some reason, your building is already using copper tubing or piping for natural gas, it is time to call in a professional to replace it right away. This was once something considered up to code, so if you have older pipes in your home they may be made out of copper. But now copper tubing is not allowed. Get someone in there to make replacements as soon as possible to avoid a gas leak in your home.
Another thing to consider is if you lived in an area where propone was once used but now the public utility sector is serving your area, get someone out to your home to look at the pipes before you convert your home over to natural gas. It is possible that while you were using propone, a contractor used copper tubing. Since copper tubing works fine with propane gas, this was not a problem, but it can turn into one once you convert to natural gas. Make sure to change out the tubing before you convert over to natural gas.
What Materials are Better for Natural Gas?
If you need to upgrade your pipes because they are older or you are building a new home, it is important to pick the right type of pipe to get this done. There are luckily several types that you can use in your home to help natural gas pass through safely while looking nice in your home. Some of the other materials that work well for natural gas distribution include:
Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing
Many homes have this type of tubing as a flexible pipe that runs between some of the rigid supply lines and even individual appliances. This is usually all contractors can use this type of tubing for, though some municipalities will allow a contractor to use this for the entire gas system. It is flexible and strong and can be placed anywhere. However, the cost is $15 for just four feet of it so the cost is high.
High-density polyethylene, or HDPE, is more of a plastic material that is used for commercial and industrial settings most of the time. There are some building codes that do allow it to be used in a residential area as well. The flexibility of this piping makes it quick and easy to install and it works well for many applications. However, since it is pretty rare, it is hard to get ahold of for your housing process, though it will last a long time once you get it in.
Black Iron Pipe
This is considered the traditional option for natural gas plumbing pipe. It is able to encase the natural gas safely in a big metal pipe. Even accidentally hitting it is unlikely to make the pipe burst open and gas get all over the place. It is a popular option so the pricing is lower and more affordable. However, it does take a long time to install and if it is exposed to a lot of moisture, it has the potential to rust.