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I Forge Iron

Plumbing 100lb propane tank into garage


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I've run this by a few folks already but figured I'd ask here and get more eyes on what I'm doing. 

I had a propane company come by last week and they basically said they wouldn't run high pressure propane into a residential property, saying it was against code. I have another company coming out this week to look also, but it seems like there may be other logistical problems with the layout of our property. My solution is to try and plumb a 100lb tank from outside the garage to where my forge is, across the garage, so I can leave the tank outside and have at three places to shut gas off in the garage (forge, entry, and exit to regulator). 

I've used 3/4in black iron piping that bends around a corner in the garage on black iron fittings with ball valves on either end and 1/4 reducers ( tank <-> hp regulator <-> 1/4 hose <-> black iron 3/4 to 1/4 reducer <-> gas ball valve <-> 6ft pipe <-> 90 degree coupler <-> 6ft pipe <->coupler <->12ft pipe <-> 90 degree coupler <-> gas ball valve <-> black iron 3/4 to 1/4 <->lp regulator <-> 1/4 hose <-> forge). My forge never exceeds 10psi. I connected all fittings using gas PTFE tape and paste, torqued with pipe wrenches. I plan on connecting a 100lb tank outside of the garage to the piping via a flexible hose I can connect and disconnect when not in use. The tubing is connected via ground wire to a 4ft copper stake driven into the ground outside, all hung on C straps along the wall. There are no nearby ignition sources, but there are standard electrical wires connected to some appliances. All the tubing is external (not in the walls)

I pressure tested at 30psi for about 8 hours (with compressed air) and didn't notice any pressure drop, I also verified continuity to the stake using a meter. I have 3 gas detectors scattered under the piping and around the garage, along with 4 CO detectors. My garage is connected but there is nothing under it and I usually have fans blowing under the forge towards the door.

I've been running the forge in my garage for about a month with my ventilation hood and air intake fine, this is just a solution to improve safety a bit by providing gas cutoffs in the garage, rather than require that I run around the other side and shut off at the tank (I was previously running it out a window). 

Any thoughts or anything I missed? 

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I have another company coming Tuesday, I haven't done anything but run compressed air through it at this point and was going to chat with them about it before I ran propane through it. They indicated on the phone that they've setup lines for forges in the past. It's somewhat of an odd request and 2 of 3 companies I called asked what a forge was (incl the one who said they likely wouldn't do it for code reasons).

That's good to know on the insurance though. 

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Thank You!      (It's like apprenticeships; they generally don't understand that they are asking you to bet everything you own on them not making a stupid mistake and hurting themselves.  I've had folks tell me that they wouldn't sue me if they did something dumb; but don't realize that many if not most insurance plans *require* you to sue third parties involved---or they are not required to pay!  It's all fun and games until somebody is looking at a quarter of a million dollar bill!  When I was young and broke not that big of a deal, with my house paid off and looking to retire, it's a big deal!)

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Yea, I understand the liability concerns. TBH I didn't think this would be that big of a deal, I was more concerned about the safety of it, but didn't consider what would be involved with code. I have a hard time believing a flexible line out the window complies with code either, so I may just be screwed either way. 

It looks like NFPA 3-2.8(c) indicates you can pipe up to 20psi into a building (exceptions for industrial purposes). NC code defers to NFPA 58 for pressures over 5psi provided the pipe is rated at pressures > 20psi, which this pipe is. I won't be exceeding 10, so I should be fine there. I'm obviously not an expert or an inspector, so I will defer to someone that is. I just thought this might be a simple solution to avoid plumbing the house for gas and running lines through the house.

I'll see what they say tomorrow. Thanks for the discussion

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One thing to consider about building/fire codes is whether they have been adopted in your area.  They may be adopted by the state, county, or municipality or some or none of these.  Where I live, in the unincorporated part of the county, outside the city limits, there are no building codes.  I could build out of paper mache and put in propane lines made out of drinking straws and scotch tape if I was stupid enough.

Sometimes one code is adopted by the state, e.g. the plumbing or electrical codes which are administered by state inspectors, while the building or fire codes may be adopted and administered by the local government or fire protection agency.

There is also the issue of what edition of a particular code has been adopted and is in effect for you.  I have seen cases where a particular edition was adopted and then was never updated for years or only had local amendments added.  A government cannot adopt "the most recent edition" of a code because it would be an illegal delegation of legislative authority to the code committees.

All that said, it is a good idea to follow the codes even if they don't legally apply because they are generally the safest option and it avoids problems with lenders and insurance companies.  That is with the caveat that sometimes codes do not address all situations.  For example, the code may require 24" clearance from any flammable materials for a chimney which is tough to do when your roof trusses are 24" apart without taking out a truss which is not a good thing.  So, sometimes compromises are necessary.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I'm in "only the state code" being rural.  I now regret selling off the unused desert lot next to our acre+ lot because if I had 5+ total acres I would qualify for Farm status which is rather  lacking in requirements for out buildings---like my smithy.  Of course I had a contractor build the first half of my smithy. His foreman used to be the zoning inspector for the southern half of the state.  I know there wasn't any issues getting inspections done!  The second half is a much better example of my hill folk ancestry including 4 different shades of blue in the walls and roof.  (My wife later chose blue for the house roof too; probably to make the shop fade into the surroundings more...)

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Same here, when we built our house in '82. I went to the county to get a building permit. Just moving up here from the Miami-Dade- Broward county area where you had to have permits to do just about everything I figured I had better do it right. They laughed and said it's your house, build it however you want no permits are required. We did build it to So-Fla hurricane code just to be safe. Glad we did because a place not too far from us lost their roof in a big wind storm but we didn't have any damage with the roof trusses strapped down for hurricane force winds.

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Your insurance company doesn't care if code says you can or not, they'll decide if you're covered in the event of a fire. 

Ask your insurance company what they think or you might was well not buy fire coverage, you won't have any.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I checked my policy and they don't say anything about being up to code, but they do mention not being covered for poor workmanship/repairs/etc. That seems kindof arbitrary, but I could see them making the case that because I installed the piping, it falls under that category even if it doesn't leak and is done up to par. I've done a lot of work (incl propane) on boats and I know how most people do things, so I can't necessarily fault them if they take that approach. 

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You can always hire a private inspector to do a pressure test and certify your self-installed gas lines.  I'd want a pressure test just for safety reasons.

Also, I don't know if it happens with propane but I suspect it would because it does with methane (natural gas) but don't ever use copper tubing.  Always use steel/iron pipe or flexible hose.  This is because there is something known as hydrogen embrittlement which is caused by hydrogen molecules getting into the crystal structure of the copper causing it to become brittle and easily break.  A broken flammable gas line is a BAD thing.  Having done propane work on boats you probably know this already but I am mentioning it for others following this thread.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Vague conditions from an insurance company are them covering their butts. It makes it much easier to deny coverage, they have every type of expert on retainer to testify your modification was inherently unsafe. Or whatever gets them off the hook.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had another company come out and they said they'd run the lines. Apparently they've done it before and it's not against code. The previous guy before said he wasn't 100% sure but would check and get back with me. He never did. 

At any rate, I scheduled an install with them. The pipe I put together before, they are just going to re-use for the installation. I feel better about this situation, mainly because it makes refills easier and less frequent, but it also eliminates the need for a portable tank and keeps the majority of the pipe outside of the garage.

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