Advice about Underground Gas Lines

insulated gas pipes in a dirt trench

Installing natural gas lines is no mean feat, even for an experienced DIYer. However, that's not to say it’s completely undoable. A few simple steps executed correctly can help you safely run gas lines gas for heating or any other desired use. Below are a few working tips to get you started.

Am I Allowed to Run an Underground Gas Line by Myself?

Yes, in most (if not all) states in the USA, homeowners are allowed to do the underground gas piping for their residences so long as they have a mechanical permit to do so. Acquiring the permit is as simple as filling an online application form and paying the permit fee. Inspection can also be done via a mobile app. However, these regulations might vary by municipality.

In Canada for instance, section 55 (1) of the Ontario Regulation for Fuel Industry Certificates permits residents to fix their own underground gas lines provided a certified inspector approves the installation before it gets activated.

If confused about the regulations in your area, please contact your local building department for further guidance.

long dirt trench with gas pipe

Safety Concerns

Several safety concerns need to be addressed prior to commencing an underground gas line project. First, ensure you thoroughly evaluate your skill-set against the task at hand. Installing an underground gas line fits well within the advanced DIY category. As such, any doubts about your ability to handle the job would require you to consult directly with an expert.

You also need to ensure the whole procedure is undertaken with safety at the core. Thoroughness, surety, and care should be your guiding principles. Be detailed in your work and ensure all connections are properly fixed. Never activate the gas lines until the work is inspected and approved by certified personnel.

Finally, understand that natural gas is highly regulated. Ensure you consult with your local authority prior to commencement. Important questions to ask include; whether a homeowner can actually complete an installation, whether a licensed professional is needed to oversee the process, and the codes and standards to observe during installation.

Mapping Out Your Trench Line

The actual project commences with mapping out the route through which the gas line will run. It is prudent to begin close to where the primary gas valve is stationed. This is where the new garage gas line should be branching off from.

Identify where the underground gas lines will be passing and work to ensure you consider the shortest, clearest route possible away from landscaping and tough terrains. The trench should be roughly 20” deep and 12” wide.

Also, contact the “call before you dig” team to inspect the ground for any prior connections and to help locate your gas line after it has been covered.

underground gas pipe coming out from concrete surface

Which Pipe Do I Use for an Underground Gas Line?

Different pipe brands exist in the market today. You can use either polyethylene (PE) pipe or fusion-bonded steel pipe. PE gas pipes are the most widely used gas pipes because of their simplicity and quality. A single piece is enough for end-to-end coverage. It also comes with proven inertness to both the natural gas within and the soil environment outside.

Steel gas pipes are also viable; however, they are time-consuming and need more work and attention. For instance, if your trench is over 21 feet long, you will need to cut and thread the pipe and insert joints underground.

You also need to know the cost of renting a trencher at this point (unless of course, you prefer manually digging out the trench). A 24” trencher costs less than $200 dollars and can be rented for $125 for a 4-hour use.

What Is the Recommended Pipe Size?

The size of the pipe is determined by both pipe diameter and BTU load. Consider any future development to estimate the appropriate size. Also, consult with the pipe technical support team for further guidance.

How Deep beneath Do I Need to Bury My Gas Line?

The depth of your trench should be between 18” to 24”. This depth is usually informed by the nature of the terrain. The specific code for ditch depth is usually defined by the local building department. The ditch will also need to be inspected by certified personnel before covering up. The piping also needs to be detectable after being covered. A green coated wire buried along with the gas pipe is used for this purpose.