Just a little personal background: Until the early ’70s, I had worked in the electronics industry, but most of that headed overseas around that time, so I ended up going into the HVACR service business, specializing in the electrical/electronic side (heat pumps, controls, and the like). However, I also needed a gas license to offer full service, and that brought me into the field of black pipe, which my trucks and my people weren’t well suited to. So I joined forces with a friend in the plumbing business who handled my gas piping and floor furnace work - WHEW!

Needless to say, several years later when I (as an HVACR magazine editor) was invited to see one of the first whole-house Corrugated Stainless Steel Tube (CSST) installations in Colorado Springs, I was impressed, for I thought of the possibilities this product would have opened up for my earlier business.

You see, my installation people back in the ’70s all had air-conditioning backgrounds (an important thing in the South), and the type of gas tubing that they were used to handling was mostly flexible copper. So any type of flexible gas pipe would have been a natural for them. Besides, it comes in rolls, so they wouldn’t have needed pipe racks on their trucks! However, I think that I would still have kept my plumbing buddy on, to handle my floor furnace work (we had a lot of them in Memphis back in the early ’70s and ’80s).

The material costs would have been much higher with the corrugated gas pipe, but I’ve been told that the price difference is made up for in the much faster installation time, which I understand may be improved by 50% to 80%, depending on whether it’s new construction or rehab work. However, I wondered how much the requirement for a centrally-located gas regulator would be accepted by contractors and by local codes.

When I saw this installation in the late 1980s, the initial problem was with getting local codes to allow the product’s use. Perhaps the article that I wrote at the time about this type of gas pipe (which was probably the first such article in our industry) had a positive effect.

Now 20 years later, I know that a lot has changed in the business of CSST. I found this out when I recently contacted Jeff Soechting, the national sales manager for WARDFLEX (a CSST manufacturer). According to him, this product has consistently gained market share over traditional steel pipe installations since its introduction, and today it’s estimated that more than 50% of all residential gas piping installations use CSST in all or part of the system. Its use has also been approved in all 50 states, and it is recognized by all codes nationally. So I’m sure that you are aware of the product.

Something that I didn’t know about CSST, and perhaps you didn’t either, is that there are generally no gas leaks with these systems, thanks to some of the great new types of fittings that are available. Although this doesn’t eliminate the need for pressure testing (just to be sure), most contractors no longer do leak testing, as I had to do. However, I understand that some local training is required to make sure that installers know what they’re doing before they are allowed to use the tubing.

Does your company carry this type of product, and do you support manufacturer training classes? I hope so, because this is a fine idea whose time has come!