Fire Marshal warns of gas piping defect

(WCSC) - It's in millions of homes and buildings-- yellow gas tubing that could ignite and possibly explode during a lightning storm. It's found in most residential and commercial buildings.

"CSST is corrugated stainless steel tubing," Charleston chief fire marshal Mike Julazadeh said. "It's used safely every day to bring gas to appliances so it has been a safe product but there have been weaknesses found with the older generation."

Chief Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh says CSST isn't dangerous but it has the potential to be. That "older generation" that is susceptible to the defect includes homes or buildings built or renovated before July 2013.

Julazadeh explained that type of CSST was likely not installed with the proper bonding or the proper grounding. As a result, if lightning strikes your home, it can hit the CSST line and create a hole.

"That hole will cause the gas to escape and often that gas is ignited," Julazadeh said.

That contact creates a gas fire, usually in a place where a homeowner wouldn't see it right away.

"The problem is where the pipe is located. If the pipe is located in the attic, in the wall space, or in the crawl space it is usually contacting combustible materials immediately," Julazadeh said.

So what homes are affected by this potential defect?

"This issue could be all over the Lowcountry," Julazadeh said. "We have actually encountered the situation on Daniel Island. We have encountered this situation in West Ashley. That's usually the areas we see the higher probability of a lightning strike finding a non-bonded or non-grounded CSST line."

In the past five years, the Fire Marshal's office has recorded 30 lightning-related fires in Charleston. Julazadeh said more than half of those fires had potential involvement of CSST, mostly in West Ashley and Daniel Island.

CSST can be found typically where your gas appliances are. If they are properly grounded, you will see a bond-clamp and wire attached to the tubing. If you don't see those items or if you're unsure, it is best to call a licensed electrician.

For more information about CSST and for more ways how can check the gas tubing yourself, head to this website for more information.

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