What I'm Seeing Now

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Dangerous CSST Installation

Only during a pre-drywall inspection can you see all of the material to determine if there has been a dangerous CSST installation.

CSST is C orrugated S tainless S teel T ubing, and has replaced black iron in many areas and by many builders as the preferred gas supply tubing of choice.  It is a fine product.

But, it must be done right!

This CSST product you see is called CounterStrike.  It is made by a company called OmegaFlex, and hit the market in 2011 after a previous generation of CSST, TracPipe, was said to be lightning vulnerable and discontinued for sale in the United States.  The previous product is now in the courts.  There are many blogs about that on this AR site.

There is a whole page of warnings regarding the use and installation of this product on the OmegaFlex instruction site (108 pages) found here.

Many areas of the guide begin with this sign.

In the first paragraph of the warning page it says, "The TracPipe CounterStrike CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing) flexible gas piping material must only be installed by a qualified person who has been successfully trained through the CounterStrike gas piping program."

That information is in bold on the page.  They consider it to be very important.

It also says that improper installation can result in "gas leaks, fire, asphyxiation and explosion" (their words).

It specifically states that kinks in the piping can lead to leaks, which can cause any of those things to occur.

When I went into the basement of this house I saw this.

That is a pretty serious kink!  And it is held PRESSED flat by that plumbing drain tubing, which is bulging outward due to opposite pressure from the CSST!

In another couple of days this would have been covered up with drywall!

Apparently the "qualified" and "successfully trained" installer (which says to me took a class and passed tests) thought this was an ideal installation.

This is from the OmegaFlex instruction website link above, on page 27:

YOU ARE NOT A "SUCCESSFULLY TRAINED" CSST INSTALLER.  DOES THE PHOTO ABOVE LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THE DIAGRAM ABOVE TO YOU?

And not to me either.  The tubing in the photo above is 1", so the minimum bend radius is 5".  The absolute is 3". 

What does the home inspector do?  He takes a photograph and brings it to the attention to the buyer verbally and in a report. 

Dontchaknow that for some reason this installation was replaced later with a proper one? 

My recommendation:  home inspectors only observe and report.  They try to do the best they can for their clients.  They don't pretend to know everything.  But they know some things.  This home inspector  can tell you that sometimes they just feel  something to be improper and go look it up later!  And if they err, it is almost always on the side of their client! 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 21 commentsJay Markanich • March 06 2015 03:37AM

Comments

Good job!!

That home buyer surely got their money's worth.

Of course, I prefer the all electric homes.  No risk of a big BOOM!!!

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thanks for pointing this out.

Now you have me wondering if the home that exploded had this problem.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 3 years ago

Manufacturers have installation instructions for reasons Lenn!  And I can tell you the builder was not happy with me.  Yet the post is full of the same information (which I find to be very instructive) I provided the buyer, and builder.

Raymond - the first house that exploded was because it was struck by lightning.  A house just nearby me exploded from lightning too and the homeowners had first heard about CSST from me when they put their mother in a "home" nearby that was serviced with CSST.  They poo-pooed my commentary only to experience it themselves later!  I posted about it here.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Good catch.  It is amazing what some people will deem acceptable.  All of the trades workers that I have worked with in the Frederick, MD area have been true professionals and actually take pride in their work.

As always, I really enjoy your posts.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 3 years ago

We all make fun about sub contractors and some of the crappy installations we see, but it just amazes me that some people just don't give a crap what kind of conditions they leave behind for their fellow man... How ridiculous is it to not have a pre-drywall inspection?

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

Builders look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them we want a pre-drywall inspection. How else are we supposed to know if the work was done right?  

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) over 3 years ago

Stephen - CSST is something I have run into many times in terms of installation.  It really does require professional training.  Too serious!

Not doing a pre-drywall inspection is almost as ridiculous (your word) as a "professional" leaving this installation inside the wall Fred!

It's the only time to see the house in a skeletal condition Christine!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Everything I've ever learned about CSST I have learned from you during our mutual clients' inspections.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 3 years ago

Some things are installations are common and some errors are common Chris Ann.  People have to understand what they are buying.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

I studied and passed my real estate exam.  It was only afterwards did I really learn the business.  Looks like that installer needs to go back to class.  

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 3 years ago

That, James, and to develop a little pride in his work.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay Markanich wonder why some so-called professionals end up doing shabby job - and don't follow the instructions!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 3 years ago

Because the Golden Rule has been tarnished to where it no longer shines Praful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay, You got somethings mixed up here buddy. Tracpipe makes counterstrike and has been for years. Cunterstrike was most likely made in response to the known issues with the yellow pipe. The class action lawsuit Tracpipe lost, end all production of the yellow pipe. FYI, the black counter strike also must be grounded.

As for that kink, potentially dangerous and sloppy work. Good catch. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 3 years ago

I keep pretty close tabs on this Jim, as I have it in my report when I find TracPipe.  The black wrapped CounterStrike was DEFINITELY in response to the first lawsuit when the yellow TracPipe was discontinued in the country.  The initial investigation lost for TracPipe, but there have been many individual legal cases in the courts. 

This is the link I have on my report about that first case - here.

I do state in my report that the legal situation is ongoing and that there are many cases since.  OmegaFlex is VERY aggressive in their defense.

Go to the OmegaFlex site here and see what has happened as they have been continually sued.  They remain confident.

As to that kink, I knew the kink was bad but had to go home later to research how much of a bend was acceptable.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay I wrote a blog on CSST in 2009. In the comments I mention Counterstrike. It has been around well before 2010. I also have a document on the issues of CSST dated 2007 that refers to Omegaflex CounterStrike. Be happy to send you a copy.

When I say in response, I mean the company was already aware of the issues with the yellow pipe and had come up with CounterStrike. When they stopped production of the yellow, they already had their alternative on the market for years. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 3 years ago

Another thought, what exactly does the legal battle have to do with the presence of and corrective action required for CSST? Fact is the stuff needs to be grounded. The court battles do not change that fact. Am I missing something? 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 3 years ago

We may not be understanding each other (gee, that never happens) and I may be wrong in the dates, but I thought Counterstrike came out in response to an NAHB study in 2007 regarding lightning and csst.  This is the article I send my clients to on my reports - here.  I'm not sure we are in disagreement.

This is karma you would appreciate -- I did an inspection (maybe Jan 2011?) for a couple buying a retirement condo for the gentleman's mother and I noticed and mentioned TracPipe and the lightning legal issues associated therewith.  The realtor had never heard such "nonsense," and dismissed my comment with the thought that home inspectors are merely looking for things to scare people with.  So be it.

A couple of months later all the gas appliances in that couple's house, two miles from mom's condo, blew up from a lightning strike!  TracPipe!  A neighbor happened to see the strike and said the lightning exited the rear deck light and it looked like a firework!  We call that karma.

Amazed, they called me to do phase inspections on the work in their house when it was being redone!  I put up a post about it here.

You mean I wasn't trying to scare mom?  Gee...

As to the bonding and grounding, I didn't get into it in the kink(y) post as it wasn't relevant.  But, and this is my thinking only, the small bonding and grounding wires won't help that much if lightning strikes it.  Like a surge protector is okay, but weak in a lightning event, I expect the grounding wires to be the same - okay but weak.  But I don't know!

Like DeNiro, OmegaFlex says, "You lookin' at me?"

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Now I wonder what Wrench would do...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay, That is the same study, but your link looks like a power poimt presentation. I have pdf document. On page 17 of the study they discuss CounterStrike.

I remember that blog. I also wonder the same. Will the ground prevent a boom. That's a technical term, boom. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 3 years ago

It's probable that the millenials would prefer the power point to a pdf Jim!  But I don't know.  It's info.  I expect most of our clients don't go into all the info if they see it on a report.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

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