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DLevesque
Water in Natural Gas Lines

I've been having this recurring issue with water in my natural gas lines. Here are the facts:

-The apartment has 2 gas appliances- a 22,000 btu wall furnace heater (rinnai) and a gas range. These were unused for about 2 years until I bought the building and moved into this unit. The gas was pressure tested and worked fine for about 2 months until it started to get colder.

-One day the gas to the heater went out (gas range always continued to work fine). It was found that a substantial amount of water was clogging the pipes. We blew it out and thought we were good until it happened again 2 weeks later. The water was blown out and then 2 days later it happened again (this time the water was frozen in the pipes)!

-Now the gas company saw water was in the meter, and given the amount decided to check the main. After digging up the road they did not find enough water in the main to conclude that was the problem, but they did find a leak in the valve in the underground service line in my front yard. After that was fixed we thought would finally be ok.

-Another 2 weeks go by and the pipes filled up again! Now the gas company is saying that I need to reconfigure my gas pipes before they will go any further with the issue. My gas pipe (black iron) goes across the basement and then outside, up the side of the house where it enters into the heater. Even though the pipes had been like this for many years with no issues, and pipes are outside of buildings all over the place (up here in Portland, ME), they (Unitil) are claiming a condensation issue. I will also note that we added a drip leg the day they dug up the main, which was completely filled in the most recent instance of the issue.

-Given the amount of water that has been collecting each 2 week period this has occurred, and the fact that exterior pipes are common, I really don't think I should have to re-pipe my heater. I'd be happy to do it if it was clearly the problem, but since no one at the gas company really knows I'm hoping some people in this community can provide some help. It seems to me like my natural gas has way too much moisture in it and gas company should be testing that. THANK YOU!!!!!!!

dj1
Re: Water in Natural Gas Lines

In my city, the Gas Co is responsible up to the meter (usually on the side of the house), including the meter. The homeowner is responsible pass the meter.

I would suspect that it's the same in your town. If that's the case, I doubt that your gas co will do anything more for you.

Right now, you need a couple of plumbers to come over, inspect everything and tell you what they think.

Personally, I think you got a leak somewhere (in your pipes), judging by the amount of water you're finding.

Let us know the rest of the story.

DLevesque
Re: Water in Natural Gas Lines
dj1 wrote:

In my city, the Gas Co is responsible up to the meter (usually on the side of the house), including the meter. The homeowner is responsible pass the meter.

I would suspect that it's the same in your town. If that's the case, I doubt that your gas co will do anything more for you.

Right now, you need a couple of plumbers to come over, inspect everything and tell you what they think.

Personally, I think you got a leak somewhere (in your pipes), judging by the amount of water you're finding.

Let us know the rest of the story.

I appreciate your input, and you are right that the Gas Co owns everything up to the meter in the basement. My plumber has been through my gas lines along with the gas company. They have been pressure tested with no leaks. I explained my case to a higher up Gas Co employee today who agreed that this amount of condensation does not make sense. They are going to do further investigation next week. I suggested they measure the water content in the gas and determine if there is a higher than normal amount. We will see what they do.

dj1
Re: Water in Natural Gas Lines

Here is another thing you can do: ask your neighbors, who are most likely getting their natural gas from the same source as you, if they experience water in their gas.

BTW, what color are your range flames?

Mastercarpentry
Re: Water in Natural Gas Lines

Although not a true "fix", bigger drip legs can help extend the time between problems. Put a 6" or longer one at the first place past the meter where you can. Where the line exits the building and goes vertical a 12" drip leg wouldn't hurt if there's space for it. I've seen drip legs which were just a 'close nipple' and a cap- maybe 2" total, and that is inadequate. IIRC (and I may not) they should be 3" minimum by code.

While you shouldn't be seeing this much moisture in the lines, do remember that drip caps are there to be maintained so they might need occasional draining anyway since you can't control the quality of the gas. And if your neighbors are having the same issue get them to call your contact at the gas company and complain with you. It seems to me that there's more than just condensation going on here because if the gas was really dry there would be no water in it to condense now would there? And that's the only place it can come from in a sealed system.

Phil

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