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Old 05-07-2013, 02:41 PM   #16
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
"Getting a life" might also mean not answering questions from people like you.

A more appropriate reply would have been, "for those concerned with my family's safety, Thank you."
People like me... I asked inquisitively, for verification that I did in fact legally need to spend the money to rectify the issues, and to ask if they were in fact within their rights to shut it off with no leak found. Having worked for several contractors, and in machine shops and other industries where OSHA has quite a say, I can't say as compliance always translates into "safety".

Regardless, thank you for your input.

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Old 05-07-2013, 03:44 PM   #17
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


@badtheba

I worked for a propane company for 15 years. During that time I saw a lot of things that you wouldn't believe that people would actually do within their homes to their appliances and gas lines. I cannot count the number of times that I red tagged systems for either improper installation of lines or appliances. Now, depending on the type of problem, I would red tag the system and instruct the homeowner that I was turning off the gas. I also told them that whatever they did after I left was up to them, but that a potentially dangerous condition exists and that my company or I would be liable if something happened. Depending on the severity of the problem, I would sometime lock out the tank, but that was in the most extreme cases.

Every time work is done by a propane company that involves service work, reported gas smell or anything where a line must be opened, we were required to perform a leak check. That involved entering the home and making sure the appliances were off and all pilots were shut down so as not to give us a false reading. As screwed up as this may sound, we also had to look around for unsafe conditions. Why? Because of liability, plain and simple. If we spotted something, we would discuss it with the homeowner and depending on the situation we would act according to the severity. Most of the time homeowners were understanding, but there were those that became irate and started swearing and threatened to report us to the Better Business Bureau etc. I normally handled the irate customers pretty well, and let them know that I was not only protecting myself and my company, but I was also trying to protect their home and family as well.

You see, when an explosion happens everyone sues everyone and the determination for the outcome as to who pays for it all comes down to documentation and liability. I was raised by a lawyer and a judge, while that does not make me a lawyer or judge, I was very familiar with how lawsuits worked and how to protect myself and my family while earning my living. I also had to sleep at night knowing that I had done everything I could possibly do to ensure the safety of the homes I did work in.

In your case the water heater on/off/pilot valve being cracked would have been noted on my workorder, possibly red tagged as unsafe depending of the severity, and the heater would have been shut down. I protected myself, my company and you.

The propane industry has to follow the NFPA pamphlet #54 and #58 for the national codes, as well as all local and state regulations. We had our company policies to follow as well.

When it comes to what they saw in your gas line, if they saw reducing bushings, they are not allowed on LP gas. If they saw bell reducers, those are fine unless your local codes forbid them, which I cannot see why they would. As far as reducing tees go, 10 years ago they were fine and that still may be true. In your case I would have documented everything and red tagged the lines, no matter how many times our company had been there previously and I likely would have shut off the tank. Locking it out would have depended greatly on your attitude toward the situation, but you have to remember this: the tank, concrete pad and regulator remain the property of the propane company in most cases and unless those items are owned by the homeowner, the company is within its rights to lock out the tank, pull the regulator and cap your lines. Harsh? Sure, but you have to remember, while you may not be haphazard about the safety of your family, other people might not think that far ahead or not care. They might think the service man was overreacting or being too "by the book". In my opinion, there is no such thing as being too "by the book" it is either right or it is wrong, there is no gray area or fudge factor. Other service men might not care if they got sued and lost their family home and life savings, but I tended to be a bit touchy when it came to making sure I was never in that position to begin with.

While I may sound a bit arrogant, I assure you that was not my intention. What I am trying to do for you is to explain why the things you described happened. My basic hard and fast rule for myself was to always err on the side of caution and to cover my ass. I never once shut someone down and left them there wondering what just happened. I would always try to work with them to get their problem corrected in a timely fashion and if I had to poke my service manager a little bit so we could cut them a break with the price... I made sure they got the best deal I could possibly make for them.

I do wish you luck and hope that you found what I said somewhat useful.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:45 PM   #18
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


I also told them that whatever they did after I left was up to them, but that a potentially dangerous condition exists and that my company or I would NOT be liable if something happened.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:41 PM   #19
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


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@badtheba I do wish you luck and hope that you found what I said somewhat useful.
Thank you for the thorough response, that is very insightful. When the service man told me he had to lock the tank because of an unsafe condition, I was very agreeable, and friendly. I am not one to make problems, and I buy local and know a lot of these people (small town). In fact, the first thing I did was dig out the grill for dinner. I knew we'd have to make do for a few days. My main contention came after the fact, when contacting the manufacturer of the water heater and finding that the valve was $300 and a new water heater was similar in price at my wife's cost. I apologize if I came across like I was blaming the propane company or the service man for something I didn't feel needed attention, that was not how I meant it to sound.

Can you tell me though (whether it's code or not, or passable ten years ago or no), what makes the bushings unsafe? The second set of threads as another failure point? The contour of the lines not allowing free flow? No one has answered that yet and I'm curious
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:55 PM   #20
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


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Thank you for the thorough response, that is very insightful. When the service man told me he had to lock the tank because of an unsafe condition, I was very agreeable, and friendly. I am not one to make problems, and I buy local and know a lot of these people (small town). In fact, the first thing I did was dig out the grill for dinner. I knew we'd have to make do for a few days. My main contention came after the fact, when contacting the manufacturer of the water heater and finding that the valve was $300 and a new water heater was similar in price at my wife's cost. I apologize if I came across like I was blaming the propane company or the service man for something I didn't feel needed attention, that was not how I meant it to sound.

Can you tell me though (whether it's code or not, or passable ten years ago or no), what makes the bushings unsafe? The second set of threads as another failure point? The contour of the lines not allowing free flow? No one has answered that yet and I'm curious
Well, with the bushings all I can truly offer is a guess because I either knew and forgot or I never knew and just accepted it. My guess is that with a bushing there is the potential to sheer the pipe at the bushing, whereas with a bell reducer no such weakness is there. Now, I understand how outlandish that sounds because if there was enough force to sheer a black iron pipe whether it was attached to a bushing or not wouldn't matter one bit however the codes were written because something happened and repeated failures were reported. So, with that in mind, that is my best guess. Sometimes I had to scratch my head when it came to the codes, but more often than not, they made perfect sense and I followed them like a bible.

You did not come across as if you were blaming anyone, you were confused because someone didn't take the time to explain the entire situation to you. One thing to keep in mind, if you ever have to start a sentence with the words, "Why did they...?" the answer is almost always money. Liability is a very touchy and costly thing and a business is in business to make money, not hand it away because of someone being negligent.

I am glad I was helpful to you.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:17 PM   #21
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


Check in the local landfill. There are old water heaters in there all the time. Maybe one has a knob like yours. Have you changed the anode in the water heater? Maybe the tank is fine. You said your neighbor "Moved in a new home" Is this a mobile home we are talking about? Post the model and a picture of the knob, maybe someone has one like it on hand.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:21 PM   #22
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


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For those suggesting that I was putting a price on the safety of my family... get a life.
Your absolutely right i need to get a life and get off these forms giving people FREE advise which usually go on deaf ears, you come on wright a history book on your homes gas line complain about a 300 gas valve complain about fittings which you say passed inspection 15 years ago and question why they need to be removed, i see your kind everyday, instead of getting a professional company out to your home ASAP what do you do you go a plumbings forms website. i wont waste my time explaining why you cant use reducer bushings on gas, and 15 years ago they would not have passed inspection, so if the original job was permitted someone screwed up, while some heads of households will questions issues of which they have no first hand knowledge of what in fact could put their family in harms way, i hope you finally corrected your situation for your family's sake
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:55 PM   #23
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


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Check in the local landfill. There are old water heaters in there all the time. Maybe one has a knob like yours. Have you changed the anode in the water heater? Maybe the tank is fine. You said your neighbor "Moved in a new home" Is this a mobile home we are talking about? Post the model and a picture of the knob, maybe someone has one like it on hand.
Great advice, Jagans! I completely forgot about scrounging for parts like that. Check your local supply houses, I've found old but still usable parts at EMCO plumbing wholesaler. I even found an entire brand spankin' new Carrier Infinity furnace with a smashed inducer, but good gas valve, blower motor etc. at my old HVAC supplier, they said I could take the whole thing.

I'd like to point out that as a service tech for a gas supplier, safety is my priority: if I see something unsafe, I red tag it and shut it down. I am NOT, however, a code enforcer. If I see something that is against code, but isn't necessarily unsafe as it is or likely to become, I pink tag it and let the customer know. I don't have to shut it off, in fact, I think doing so goes against safety as they may be hesitant to call next time if they smell gas, CO alarm goes off, etc. it's also bad customer service. There is nothing in my code forbidding the use of bushings on propane lines. There are some requirements, and I think bushing down a 90 looks like crap, but who hasn't done something like that instead of driving to pick one up when you can just get it done. Not a safety issue, and I think the propane supplier overstepped his duty. If I red tagged every little thing like this that I saw, I'd have many unhappy customers and one pissed off inspector.

Btw, don't nest bushings.
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:21 PM   #24
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


They are protecting their behinds, for if there WAS a leak, or apilot failure or whatever, and they turned the gas on and accepted your word for it that all was okey dokie inside and left, and later your house blows up, the first ones who will be slapped with a lawsuit is THEM!

I can just see the court quotes now... "and then you turned the gas ON?"

"yes"
"Didn't you perform the required leak test?"
"Well, we tried but the plaintif said everything was fine inside so we turned the gas on and left"

"in other words you admit that your company failed to do the required test, and as a result there was an explosion and fire, thank you, you may step down off the witness stand"


Gas can leak underground and you don't know it.
Gas is too dangerous to play games, get careless with, or make assumptions about.

The way I see it you have two choices, put up with these guys and the tests, or switch to electric and get rid of gas.

Last edited by RWolff; 05-07-2013 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:12 AM   #25
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Lawsuit or no lawsuit I think most Companies, inspectors, mechanics that are affiliated with gas products and materials think about the safety of human beings. The lawsuit is the last thing they think of.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:40 AM   #26
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


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Your absolutely right i need to get a life and get off these forms giving people FREE advise which usually go on deaf ears, you come on wright a history book on your homes gas line complain about a 300 gas valve complain about fittings which you say passed inspection 15 years ago and question why they need to be removed, i see your kind everyday, instead of getting a professional company out to your home ASAP what do you do you go a plumbings forms website. i wont waste my time explaining why you cant use reducer bushings on gas, and 15 years ago they would not have passed inspection, so if the original job was permitted someone screwed up, while some heads of households will questions issues of which they have no first hand knowledge of what in fact could put their family in harms way, i hope you finally corrected your situation for your family's sake
Your initial post said I was putting a price on my family's safety. That's making a lot of assumptions about me, and letting your arrogance get in the way and prevent you from answering questions properly. Nothing I said indicated I was wanting to cut corners to compromise safety, only clarifying the law/regulations for myself (and finding out what was technically in the company's hands and what was in my hands). I had already been into our local hardware store where my wife works, and checked prices on new parts, and craigslist for matching water heaters. I had already contacted my plumbing contractor and found out his schedule. I was not sitting by expecting my gas to get turned back on without resolving these things, as you seem to think. As you can see by other posts from friendly, helpful people in this community, I got my questions answered. If the propane service man had been a bit more thorough in his explanation, I wouldn't have had the questions, so excuse me for being a newcomer and that translating into me not having valid concerns in your view. As anyone can tell by what you just wrote "i wont waste my time explaining...", you aren't out to be helpful to ANYONE in this instance. Being new to a forum is not a flaw or crime. If you misinterpreted my tone, I'm sorry. I was asking questions for the clarification I didn't get from the tech, not to avoid safety. And "on deaf ears" would indicate that you had contributed something worthwhile that I ignored. That is not the case. I got what I needed from others. I hope that if there's something I can contribute in an area I have experience in that I reply in the same manner that several of these people have.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:50 AM   #27
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Check in the local landfill. There are old water heaters in there all the time. Maybe one has a knob like yours. Have you changed the anode in the water heater? Maybe the tank is fine. You said your neighbor "Moved in a new home" Is this a mobile home we are talking about? Post the model and a picture of the knob, maybe someone has one like it on hand.
Thanks for that suggestion about the landfill. I had already checked craigslist and found my same model heater for $150, but it was an hour and a half away and just as old as mine. My contractor repeatedly told me only expect 10-15 years, which is in line with the advice I got here. The tank manufacturer told me the knob (pennies worth of plastic) is not available by itself.

The home next door is a mobile home, using the same gas company as I do. After pulling out of my driveway they techs were heading that way to check the neighbor's tank (later I saw them in town and they said they found no leaks there).
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:48 PM   #28
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


to get a better understanding of why propane dealers do this all you need to do is research the propane explosion about a year or two ago in the Buffalo NY area. Noco, tagged and unhooked a tank thay had for safety reasons. The homeowner hooked up a tank he aquired somewhere. The safety issue reared it's ugly head and a couple people paid with their lives. Now the surviving families are trying to sue Noco claiming they were negligent. I would imagine that with the amount of lawers out there today, if something were to happen with that cracked knob where you could not turn it off or whatever, they would be crawling all over anyone who "should have known better".

As far as reducing bushings on gas lines...they have a tendancy to crack if overtightened. The cracks sometimes can not be detected too easily. I had a gas leak repair call several years ago. The system had not been touched for years. Suddenly, the customer could smell gas. after we pressure tested the line, it was pretty easy to find the cracked bushing. Swapped it out with a bell reducer and all was good. We suspect that the bushing failed after several years due to fatigue as the crack looked fresh when we opened it up
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:56 PM   #29
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LP tank locked out because of non compliance


badtheba is the exact person who would sue the propane company if something- anything - went wrong inside of his house.

They have to cover their butts, and for good reason.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:05 PM   #30
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badtheba is the exact person who would sue the propane company if something- anything - went wrong inside of his house.

They have to cover their butts, and for good reason.
That is a very careless and rash post. I was looking for information here AFTER contacting both my licensed plumber AND parts suppliers and not getting satisfying answers. I was respectful and courteous to the techs, knowing that they get yelled off people's property at times for the same things. I got my answers, and played gopher to the plumber/expert today after all the orders came in. All this was in the works within a couple hours after having it shut off. I only posted here to hear from someone in the industry, as I repeatedly stated. I love how several posts seem to assume I've done or was about to do something irresponsible, when in fact I stated in the first post I had no intention of circumventing the LP company or removing their lock.

Did my plumber think it was ridiculous that the heater was flagged for a plastic knob (basically a stereo knob)? Absolutely. Does he understand why the bushings aren't allowed? Yes, and he explained it better in person (they are cast with a seam, is his assumption). He also works closely with these same techs and said the main one has flagged him for an improper boiler vent, when he used a several hundred dollar stainless vent that CAME WITH THE BOILER, but the tech hadn't seen one in use yet. The manager via phone promptly told the plumber to remove the tag. So was this a case of safety first? Yes. Was it a bit overreaching on the tech's part? Yes. I have the issue dealt with and hopefully on schedule to get it turned on tomorrow morning.

I'm really glad that a lot of answers on here were more helpful and less critical and assuming than yours.

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