- Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters
The Massachusetts Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters is advising consumers and installers to pay careful attention to plastic pipes used for the venting of gas appliances, including furnaces and boilers. The purpose of these pipes is to safely dispose of dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide, which are normally created by gas burning appliances. Most appliance manufacturers do not limit the types of pipes which may be utilized for venting, giving the choice to installers. As a result, the Board has become aware that there have been instances where the piping used by an installer cannot withstand the temperatures of the gases being ventilated. This could lead to a failure of the system as well as pose a major health hazard.
What to do
- Ensure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and in fully working order;
- Follow all manufacturer instructions for the operation of any gas appliances;
- Make sure to follow any manufacturer recommendations for regularly scheduled cleaning and maintenance as well as making sure the appliance is serviced whenever a problem emerges; and
- Visually inspect any piping used for the venting of the appliances. Signs that the pipes used for ventilation are failing and may need to be replaced can include:
- Discoloration, such as a white pipe turning brown or other colors;
- Warping or other deformities emerging from the pipe, such as spots which have become soft and movable;
- Areas where pipes are connected (joints) are coming loose or are otherwise separating; and
- Cracks in the piping.
What the Board is doing
The Board is reviewing this matter with stakeholders, including installers and manufacturers of gas appliances as well as manufacturers of the pipes commonly used for venting. A draft code change is being proposed which would restrict the types of plastic pipes which can be used for venting in future installations. Once language has been formally approved for public hearings, notices and additional information will be provided at the Board’s website: www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/pl.
NOTE: The fact that a gas appliance utilizes plastic piping does not necessarily mean that the pipe was installed improperly or otherwise needs to be replaced. Unless or until there is a code change, Massachusetts does not prohibit the use of any plastic piping for the ventilation of gas appliances so long as that piping is permitted by the appliance manufacturer.