31 Mar Inspecting for Bonding of Gas Systems including CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing)
If you have purchased a home built since 2000 or have recently added newer gas lines to an older home, chances are high that corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) was utilized. CSST is a newer, flexible material that distributes natural and propane gas throughout a home. CSST must be properly bonded according to today’s standards, or risk potential damage to the system from a nearby lightning strike which could cause fire, explosion, or gas leaks throughout.
Reports of these types of home fires caused by the improper bonding or the complete lack of bonding of CSST led the Texas Real Estate Commission to adopt new verbiage in the Preamble section titled, “Texas Real Estate Consumer Notice concerning Hazards or Deficiencies” of the REI 7-5 version of its promulgated inspection report. The new line identifies it as a potential hazard of “lack of bonding on gas piping, including corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST).” Though it is not required of home inspectors in Texas to determine if CSST is present in a home, if it is noted during an inspection, it must be determined if bonding is present.
Some homes where CSST was installed prior to the manufacturer making changes to bonding requirements sometime around 2006 may be considered “grandfathered” in and remain code compliant. However, home inspectors in Texas are required by the Texas Real Estate Commission to report the lack of bonding on any gas system, including CSST, according to its Standards of Practice. If a gas system is not bonded, it is considered deficient by TREC even if it is grandfathered into code compliance. As noted in the preamble of the report, the risk of potential injury and/or property loss is such that the commission considers it significant and worthy of notification.
Although inspectors in Texas are required to call out lack of bonding in a gas system, the question existed as to whether “proper” bonding required identification. According to the June 2015 issue of TREC Advisor, the commission’s own periodic news publication, answers this question by stating, “The inspector is only required to determine if the gas supply system is bonded and not whether it’s ‘properly’ bonded. The determination as to whether a gas supply system is properly bonded should be left to a person with the required expertise to do so, such as a licensed master electrician.”
Therefore, if CSST is present in your home or a home you are considering for purchase, it is imperative to have a good home inspector that routinely looks for bonding of gas systems as mandated by today’s standards. Additionally, a licensed professional master electrician can provide the best information about proper bonding of CSST in your home. Proper bonding requires knowledge of where and how the bonding should be implemented, according to the manufacturer’s instructions and to current standards. A good electrician will know this information regardless if the system is grandfathered in or met code when it was first installed.