Strategies for Piping the Gas
The grill is gorgeous, but there won't be any sizzling steaks until there's fuel to cook with. Installing and connecting a gas line is a job only for a licensed plumbing contractor familiar with the local codes, permits, tests, and inspections required by the municipality; a mistake here could blow your house into a pile of rubble. A gas utility is a good place to start looking for a qualified professional.


For natural gas, the piping of choice — and code, in most cases — is schedule 40 black steel pipe, a 1/2- to 1-inch conduit that has been used for about 100 years. (Copper tubing, usually not allowed for natural gas, is often permitted for propane.) To make the pipe-to-grill hookup, the contractor first turns off the gas, cuts the most convenient line and threads on a T-fitting, to which he attaches the grill line and a shutoff valve. All underground connections are primed, wrapped with a special rust-inhibiting tape 6 to 8 inches on either side of the fitting, and then tested for leaks. Exterior pipe has to be buried, usually just 12 to 18 inches deep. (Gas will flow even in the freezing northern winters.) Underground black pipe needs a factory-applied plastic coating to stop corrosion and should have a strip of plastic yellow caution tape placed over the ditch after burial, to alert future diggers to stop before it's too late. On his next barbecue project, Tom Silva wants to try a flexible gas pipe made of corrugated stainless steel covered by a PVC sleeve. The 3/4- to 1-inch-diameter pipe comes coiled on a reel and uses easy-to-attach threaded brass fittings. It has to be encased in a PVC pipe if buried, and is more costly than black steel, "but it saves on labor," Tom says. "You just unroll it and screw it on."
Sasha Nyary
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