Adding gas line for new stove

snappybobOctober 9, 2008

I will be replacing my old electric kitchen stove with a new gas stove. The main gas line for the house runs right above the wall where the stove sits but there is not a line teeing off for a stove. I will be calling a plumber to install a drop for the stove from the main line. Will the plumber have to cut into the main line and install a threaded tee or do they make some sort of work around for these situations? Every plumber that I call wants $50 just come out and give me an estimate. How are you supposed to get bids when each bid costs $50 bucks? If you let the first guy do the work how do you know if he is charging you twice what the norm is? I guess I'm just trying to get some idea of how extensive this job will be. Total pipe run will be less than ten feet and the pipe runs above my garage so it's pretty accessible. Thanks for your input.

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We ran a gas line up from our basement to the second floor for our dryer total footage was about 20 ft, and access was not simple, $350.00 and I did NOT pay a fee for an estimate by any of the plumbers I called and you shouldn't either. It's frustrating being charged for an estimate, I think that should be part of the cost of doing business. I'm self employed and there are many things I'd love to charge for but don't because it's not reasonable. So when I've been in those situations, I just say, I'm not going to pay a fee for an esitmate, if they want to give me an idea of what it would cost over the phone fine, and if not, I'm happy to call someone else. Let's face it, times are tough. There are lots of building professionals in need of work now more than ever, many of whom I'm sure would be happy to help you. I know plumbers are going to have a fit when they read this, and that's ok, but the building parties over now, and if they want to work they need to learn to compromise just like their customers had to when everyone was too busy to return a call or show up as promised. (it's sort of like, the flip in real estate going from a sellers market to a buyers market)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:21PM
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all you can do is ask for a ball park figure for a tee and a straight shot down 1 wall.

if they refuse, then get no more than 2 estimates. any more than that and you likely will pay more in estimates than if you had just went with the first guy to show up.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 12:23AM
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Your new stove may not be able to be T'd off the existing line. It may require a home run service straight from the meter. It all depends on the size of the line, the pressure your company uses, the number of items and BTU's of those items that you have already hooked up to that line. So, it's not really as simple a quote as it may seem at first. Much of that information can be gathered by you and a visit to the attic to view the exisiting installation and reading the plates on the existing equipment and a call to your gas company. Gathering that information may make that $50 estimate go away. At least you'll be better informed as to the actual scope of the job if you know the answers.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 8:08PM
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agree with live wire oak. Find out the service pressure downstream of meter...3-5"w.c., 7"w.c., 12"w.c. 2psi, etc. Get BTU ratings (max input) from each appliance already connected. Try to get a approximate length of how long the "long run"(from meter to furthest appliance) is , following the path the gas line takes as best you can. Then find the size of the line at the meter and above the range location. Then what kind of piping material is it? Black iron pipe, CSST pipe, how far from pipe to range, any unions or such close by, etc.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 10:45PM
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A lot of time is wasted offering estimates for something not much more than a service call. Ask their rate charge, have an idea from him what materials may run and give him the green light.

Estimates on small jobs don't create profits to put food on their families table. If they weren't busy, I'm sure they would be more interested in chasing homeowners testing the waters looking for estimates.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 7:04PM
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I have yet to have a plumber even show up to look at the job. How can they give me an estimate for materials without even looking at what's needed. Giving them the green light without some kind of quote is like handing them a blank check. I know from experience to find out what the job will entail before signing off on it.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 12:42PM
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Well, speak of the devil. One of the plumbing companies that I had contacted for an estimate finally called and came out to do an estimate. Estimate: $1500 best case scenerio. That's to tee into my existing gas line run horizontal about 2 ft then vertical down about 6 or 7 feet. Install a tee with trap and stub out to a cutoff valve. I would be responsible for exposing and covering up any pipe in the wall. Oh and it will have to be inspected by the city before the gas can be turned back on. It could be anywhere from 2-3 weeks before the inspector makes it by to do the inspection. In my experience they always fail a residential job on the first inspection and charge the homeonwer another inspection fee. That means no hot water or anything else that requires gas for 2-3 weeks. It's no wonder everybody does these jobs on the sly. If the plumbing codes were really written for the sake of public saftey they would have written code that stated new construction shall provide gas & electrical service to all locations that would resonably need it in the future ie. water heaters, furnaces, kitchen stoves etc.. This would eliminate much of the need to go in years later and modify existing plumbing and could be done with very little additional cost at time of design/construction. But codes are not written for that.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 11:27AM
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OUCH! that is way high(at least for MY area) just to tap a line. have you called teh gas company to see if they will do it. i know the LP and NG companies here will do it, though in many areas they won't.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 3:02PM
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No way. The gas will only supply plumbing up to and including the meter. After that you have to hire a plumber. Neither the gas co. or the city plumbing board will give you any information except for how to file a permit. In San Antonio, where I live, you are required to have a permit to install even a ceiling fan and the proper contractor to do the work. Of course it is very hard to enforce but they try. If you need to remove the meter loop to do electrical work you're basically screwed. You have to get a permit for the city to pull and reinstall the meter. No meter = no juice. Of course they sell all the parts to do just about anything at the big box stores but it is illegal for anyone but a licenced contractor to do the work. The city basically lets the unions run the show. Unfortunately what you wind up with is a bunch of these jobs getting done on the weekend by totally unqualified homeowners. Greed at it's finest.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 3:35PM
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"Unfortunately what you wind up with is a bunch of these jobs getting done on the weekend by totally unqualified homeowners. Greed at it's finest."

I think greed at its finest is not allowing homeowners to pull a permit and perform the job, with full inspections.

In many places the first inspection (at each stage if required) is included in the permit fee.
Fail an inspection and there is a re-inspection fee.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 8:33PM
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I fully agree. If you truly do not know what you are doing it will quickly get so expensive and time consuming that you will come to the conclusion that perhaps you should leave this o the professionals. Otherwise you should be allowed to work on your own home and still work within the system so that things are done safely and correctly.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Thats like saying I should be able to do your job as long as I do it right. Nevermind that I spent years in school and took a state test to get certified.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 9:18PM
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It seems that everyone is quick to badmouth the plumbers on this one so let me play the devils advocate and examine this problem from the other side of the table for a moment.

Based upon the dates of the posts they originally called the plumber on a Thursday, and no doubt that was probably late in the day to ask someone to come do a job that at best would be little more than a 2 hour service call. The following Tuesday they are making posts badmouthing plumbers at large because no one came running to submit a bid. From that I can only surmise that you believe plumbers are all just sitting around a shop waiting for the phone to ring, then dash off like fire trucks. Surely you jest.

Now let us examine the real world of plumbing for a moment.

Allowing for two weeks vacation, it then stands that every man or woman on our payroll rightfully expects 40hours a week for 50 weeks a year. Now consider this. We do a new house in three phases,
1.Sewer line & rough in
2. Stack out
3. Trim out
When we dispatch a trained crew we expect them to complete each phase in one day thus bidding a whole house only generates 3 days work for one crew. To insure that we have steady hours available to our crews we bid jobs months or in some cases even years in advance. (Yes years, I officially retired and turned the business over to my son 3 years ago and just this last July we held a party to celebrate the fact that he had finally completed the last job that I had on the books when I left.)

Now along comes a homeowner expecting us to drop what were doing and send a man to their house to submit a bid on a piddly little job that at best would be nothing more than a 2hr service call. You expect us to send man who is getting paid $20 to $35 an hour, operating a $30,000 vehicle getting 12mpg to look at your job, give you a detailed bid, then return to the shop in the faint hope that you might select us to return, I think not.

Normally when I got requests such as yours I would be totally honest with you. I would simply tell you that we dont give bids on that type of job. Instead I would offer you our service call rate of $85/hr and I would estimate 2hrs plus materials.
On the other hand, if the person requesting the service is giving the attitude about getting ripped off by plumbers I would take the other approach, I would bid you $1500 over the phone, which is our polite way of saying we really donÂt want your business.

1 Like    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 11:22PM
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"times are tough...(professionals) they need to learn to compromise"

From my handyman's point of view, in the last year this new climate of frugality is creating clients with unrealistic expectations. Seems that folks are more skeptical about costs and unwittingly punishing folks that do good work at a fair price and are willing to take time to discuss the problem.

The bitterest moments are when you take a look at a job gratis (especially from a good, trusted referral or previous client), talk openly about how the problem can be worked around, only to have them shop your solution and give it to the next guy to save a couple bucks. Seems to be happening more, so I'll be changing how I do things just a bit.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 8:44AM
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Well, it's been almost 2 weeks and I have had one estimate and no other call backs. I guess I should be patient and wait a few more months or years for the plumbers to get through with all of their backlog. At $85/hr + materials I estimate my job to be about $250. Gee, does $1500 sound a little high. That's one good reason not to go with the first estimate. We're not talking about saving "a few bucks" here. It's not really the plumbers fault. It's the unions and the industry in general shooting themselves in the foot making things so expensive and complicated that the consumers will find a way around letting them do the work. The same thing happened to US auto makers. That's why so many people are driving foriegn cars and Detroit is so quiet.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 4:00PM
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I think unions have little to do with it. It's a skilled trade with overhead, lot's of running around eating time and fuel, more running around to obtain parts, not to mention liability.

It may sound counterintuitive, but I'd suggest requesting that the job to be done by the hour, if possible, instead of by quote.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 7:32PM
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I can still remember Pete "hey get out the threading equipment" back during the last building boom. I spent about a year helping Pete, a Master plumber by trade and
learned a lot of wisdom and knowledge during that time. Sure I do some gas piping from time to time, just go to my local HD with the numbers, hand them to Steve (also a plumber) in plumbing, go look at paint charts, and return for my pre-fabbed dryer connection. I do get my work inspected, I use an Interdynamics gas detector. I also do complete bathroom remodels, $1500 in stock and two days and I have a $9000 remodel with radiant heat. I too am self employed and time is time. Every time my hauler moves it's $50. I strive to combine trips so it makes revenue each way. If I spend 2.5 hours working on something related to your project, I bill 2.5 hrs. I have found a lot of guys who do plumbing as a side business and find them quite reasonable. Post an ad on Craigslist?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 9:22PM
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Once again Snappybob has allowed his frustration to force him to talk through his hat. Contrary to his opinion the unions have very little to nothing to do with the high cost of plumbers. In fact, on a national average the plumbers union represents less than 30% of all working plumbers. The real reason the cost is to high is because certified plumbers are becoming scarcer every day.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor plumbers as a whole are currently in critically short supply. Add to that the fact that 65% of all licensed Master Plumbers and 44% of all licensed Journeyman Plumbers are within 7 years of retirement and we start to see the problem.

Now before you blame the apprenticeship program for failing in its obligation to train new plumbers ask yourself, what does it take to become a Journeyman Plumber?

First the candidate MUST BE enrolled in a state approved and supervised apprenticeship program however 65% of all the candidates who apply for the apprenticeship program fail to pass the mandatory prerequisite entrance exam because they cannot do basic high school level math.

Of those who do pass the exam, they are enrolled in the state apprenticeship program and agree to work under the apprenticeship program guidelines under the supervision of a Master Plumber for a period of 4 years. In turn, the state apprenticeship program lists a number of different categories for both residential and commercial such as Sewers & Septic tanks, Lift stations, DWV, domestic potable water supplies, potable water distribution, non-potable water distribution, liquid or gaseous fuels, chemical piping, high pressure air & medical gasses.

At the end of each workweek the candidate must submit a timecard to the state apprenticeship board outlining the number of hours worked in each category for the week. Any workweek with less than 40 hours does not count and any candidate who looses more than 4 workweeks in a calendar year for unexcused absences is dropped from the program but that is rarely a problem because during peak season they will average 60hour weeks and rarely will they ever get a true 40hour week.

On top of that, each candidate is required to be enrolled in a college or technical school training class and attend two 3hour evening classes a week. Cut two consecutive classes or three classes in one semester and they are dropped from the program. Minimum passing score on exams is 70%.

Needless to say, the dropout rate is about 60% the first year, and on average only about 8% of those who enter the program actually finishes the full four years.

Once they have completed the four-year programs each candidate receives a Diploma from the school and a Certificate of Completion from the state apprenticeship board certifying that they are now a plumber. With those two documents in hand along with a written letter of recommendation from the Master they trained under they may then apply to sit for the state-licensing exam.

In Florida, where I took my training they have an open book exam. When presenting yourself for the exam you must pay a $250 non-refundable fee plus you must have in your possession a list of books outlined by the examining board. The books cost $600 and you must have the latest editions because they constantly upgrade the exam to the latest books. There is a 60% failure rate for those taking the exam the first time and on average it takes three attempts to pass the exam.

Oh yes, did I mention that during the apprenticeship program whenever we introduce a new technique to the student we issue the necessary personal tools to perform the task, with the understanding that the tools will be paid for by the student through a payroll withholding. Big deal you say, so they buy a few tools. Well consider this, a 36" Rigid pipe wrench is $45 and when all is said and done each student will purchase about $2k in tools.

On the other hand, when the students enroll in the program they sign a student load for the $7k tuition however, if they drop out the student loan in on them but if they complete the program the employer pays the tab.

Now before you carry on about greed let me ask you this;

Did you work 40 to 60hrs a week digging ditches, toting heavy materials and working outdoors under all weather conditions while attending college?

Did you have to purchase all your own tools for your job?

Did you even pay off your student loans, assuming that you actually attended college to get your job?

Dont get me wrong. I dont begrudge one minute in this trade, in fact if you have what it takes I would highly recommend any young person starting out to strongly consider Plumbing. Where else can you find a job that cannot be out sourced to the Pacific rim, get your education paid for and start out at $30 to $50k a year with the potential of becoming a Master Plumber who makes $125 to $250K per yr?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 9:50PM
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Off topic, but this was my first experience where the term "master plumber" was used, so I'll be tainted for life.

I was doing a powder room remodel (tile, etc) in Georgetown (DC), where the family wanted the drain to be moved by a master plumber - an outfit that had been in business for 100 years that they knew of. The sink was being moved sideways a bit, and the line would be recessed into the wall. Anyway, I figured I could do it, but I was now curious to see how the master plumber would do it, so I deferred and let him hang the tiny special-order wall sink and set the toilet, too.

Result? I get a call from the family that evening after the plumber left, saying that something "doesn't look right". Well, he cracked the sink by overtightening the bolt and didn't say anything (sagging sink)....then I noticed the drain work. It ran sideways, then hit an elbow which RAISED it 12", then turned sideways again with another elbow, leading into the vertical. (So I asked them if their water runs with gravity or not.) The toilet rocked sideways, which the "master plumber" blamed on my tilework (which was level as can be).

Needless to say, it wasn't a master plumber, of course, but probably some new yahoo. But the funny thing is that when they corrected the problems, they told the family it was all a mistake because he was just a rough-in plumber and to next time to ask for a finish plumber.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 8:35AM
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So you are saying that from that one bad experience, you think all plumbers are like this?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 8:43PM
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No, not at all! (but I wonder what the customer may think after that episode.)

It's just something I recall whenever a guru of one sort or another will supposedly be involved.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 10:51PM
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homebound offense to the many real guru's, of course!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 10:55PM
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