Superior Technology

Let’s start with the problem of 19th century technology in the 21st century home.  Plumbers have used schedule 40 steel pipe for years, and it works reasonably well, but it is not perfect.  It is labor intensive and any design changes or retrofits can be a nightmare.  It has lots of connections, every twist and bend requires a field fabricated connection and a sealant to make a leak-tight seal.  Because it’s made of steel, it can corrode and leak.  It is strong, but it’s also inflexible.  If there is any movement in the building – settling, floods, earthquakes, a car hitting the corner of the house – the schedule 40 pipe can break or leak, leading to catastrophic consequences.

The American Gas Association tried to find a better way and through its Gas Research Institute, it investigated possible new technologies to find safer and less costly methods to pipe natural gas in a home.  GRI looked at a number of different technologies before it settled on the best of the bunch – corrugated stainless steel tubing.  Known as “CSST,” this product was originally developed in Japan to address the very serious problem of broken gas lines from earthquakes.  Because the piping is made from steel, it is very strong and because it’s corrugated, it is also flexible.  The CSST can be installed in long continuous lengths through the house so it reduces the number of connections – reducing the chances of a leak.  When those connections are made, plumbers used factory machined brass fittings that are of high quality than a connection made in the field that uses plastic sealant.  CSST has been used widely in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.  There are over 1 billion feet of CSST installed in the United States since 1990.

Schedule 40 Steel PipeCSST
Rigid – cannot bend or flexFlexible – can withstand stresses from bending or movement
Field fabricated connections – have to use sealant to make a leak tight sealFactory machined connections – metal to metal seal
Numerous leak points at connections – at every change in directionFew leak points – one a beginning – one at the end
Corrosion and leakagePlastic jacket covers corrosion-resistant stainless steel
Labor intensiveEasy to install, change or retrofit

For their own self-serving reasons, plaintiff attorneys have tried to describe CSST as dangerous because of potential damage from lightning.  The opposite is in fact true; CSST is safe and effective.  However, damage to CSST from electrical arcing caused lightning is a real phenomenon, especially to CSST that is not bonded per the current building codes, so the industry has developed other products and methods to make CSST safe from the unlikely event of a lightning strike.