Gas leak dangers arise during roof repairs
02:48 PM CDT on Thursday, July 31, 2008
By MONIKA DIAZ / WFAA-TV
July 31, 2008
News 8 video
This year, North Texas has seen its share of storms that has
resulted in many family homes in need of new roofs.
repair work on homes in Mansfield, some families said they
discovered a potentially dangerous problem in their attics.
Ebert, of Mansfield, said he called a roofing contractor in
early July to make roof repairs. After going on vacation, he
returned to find his house was filled with natural gas.
“I got in
right away, opened up some doors for ventilation and called the
gas company,” he said..
making the call to the gas company, he found the source of the
gas leak in his attic. As it turns out, it was the roofers
making repairs while he was gone that hit one of his gas lines
by puncturing it with a nail.
Ebert said he
also noticed some other surprises while checking out the attic.
“I was just
kind of shocked by the way they installed the gas line because
it was flushed actually at the decking of the roof,” he said.
"This is common sense. You don't put a gas line flushed against
his story with some of his neighbors, which was when he quickly
found out he wasn't alone. Chelsea Escalon, a mother of two, had
to evacuate her home weeks earlier after roofers hit a gas line
in her attic.
“It had been
leaking at that point 15 hours at least,” she said.
noticed that part of her gas lines were too close to the roof
“It can't be
done this way…,” she said. “The pipe can't run along the roof
decking. That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard of.”
city council member Cory Hoffman said he also had the same
problem. He kept a piece of the damaged line that was hit four
times. The leak in his home went unnoticed for hours.
part was the next day when we realized that we slept through
it," he said.
stainless steel tubing, or CSST, is widely used across the
nation. The flexible gas piping system is installed in nearly
all homes built since the late '80s.
an independent inspector, said he has seen the product in attics
plenty of times in his career.
that's the path of least resistance for gas lines, and you want
to run them to access fireplaces to appliances," he said. "You
have to run them throughout the attic and the walls.”
said what's not common is seeing them so close to roofing decks.
that there is a natural gas leak, a safety issue, it needs to be
addressed and find a better way to do it,” he said.
installation guides by some CSST manufacturers, the pipe should
be routed in areas that will minimize the opportunity for
physical damage and or installed in areas where the tubing is
free to move to avoid a potential puncture threat. The manuals
state that mechanical strike protection must be used if tubing
is routed in locations which are within three inches of a
potential threat such as drills, screws or nails.
incidents in Mansfield, the homeowners said strike protection
was not installed in the area where the lines were struck and
the piping was pushed against the roof deck,
“It is not
protected by any nail plates or anything that would prevent a
nail from coming through and puncturing that line,” Ebert said.
The city of
Mansfield is investigating four similar incidents where roofers
punctured the gas lines this year. The cases involve different
builders, different roofing companies and different CSST or
flexible piping system manufacturers.
spokesperson Belinda Willis said installers and inspectors did
what they were supposed to do and followed residential codes.
However, she said they are looking to see if any changes are
needed. The city is looking at the installations, materials
roofers used and every possible factor that could have
contributed to the issue.
of our citizens is a priority,” Willis said. “Our inspectors got
together and looked at the situation and exchanged information
to see why it might be happening ... This is an issue now so
they can take that into consideration.”
contacted two of the companies who built the homes where the gas
lines were punctured.
did not respond to calls or e-mail, but the president of
Mercedes Homes of Texas, Stewart Parker, gave a statement.
Homes and our trade partners make every effort to meet or
surpass local building codes and accepted building practices,"
read the statement. "These standards were met in this situation.
Despite the fact that all local building codes were met and the
home was outside of the warranty provided at time of purchase,
Mercedes Homes has approved and completed repairs to the
property. It is difficult for a homebuilder to anticipate events
that occurred on this home. However, we are working with our
trade partners to ensure that additional safeguards are in place
to minimize the possibility of this event occurring in the
Leo Wadley, a
representative for the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas,
said roofers are unable to know or see the lines near the
underside of roof decks.
association recommends that homeowners call a licensed
professional plumber to look at the lines before a re-roofing or
remodeling project. Farmer said homeowners should heed that
would prevail," he said. "And maybe have a plumbing test or have
a plumber look at the gas lines to see if there are any leaks."
Ebert's house, crews sent by his builder, Mercedes Homes,
repaired the gas lines in his attic. He said he hopes his
experience brings more awareness and wants cities and everyone
in the building industry to pay extra attention before tragedy
“I don't want
a ticking time bomb to go off somewhere ... ,”he said. “It's not
about the money [or] who is going to pay for the repair. It's
about how many houses have been built like this?”
he plans to address the issue with the city council to see if
any code changes are needed. The city is also passing along the
information to the International Code Council, which is a
membership association dedicated to building safety and fire
prevention and develops the codes used to construct residential
and commercial buildings including homes and schools.
counties and states that have adopted codes choose the
International Codes developed by the ICC, but they are not
required. Cites, counties and states have the power to change
their codes. Anyone can make a suggestion to the ICC for a code
Worth inspectors have not seen any problems, News 8 learned that
the city will be holding a session for its inspectors with a
CSST manufacturer representative next Monday for additional
questions, industry experts News 8 spoke with advised homeowners
to contact their local building departments and inspectors.