Natural Gas Plumbing Question

starplexJune 7, 2011

We will be putting in our first pool hopefully within 4 weeks or so. I chose to run the natural gas plumbing & save about $800 bucks. I have called the gas company (Centerpoint Energy)to upsize my gas meter as I will be installing a Hayward 350K BTU/hr heater. I realize I have 2 options to consider. With the larger meter they can set the large regulator @ 7in-wc & then I could tee off from the house connection and run 1.25" dia pipe to the heater. The second option is to have them set the regulator at 2 psig and then install 2 smaller regulators one for the house and one at the heater. This then allows me to run 0.5" pipe to the heater (approx 45 feet). I would like to go with option 2, however I haven't been able to figure out if I need to purchase and install the 2 smaller regulators (drops pressure from 2psi to 7in-wc, one @ heater & one @ house entry)or does the energy company provide them, in addition to the larger meter & larger regulator? I called their customer service & they were no help. They said I had to wait until the tech called to install to find that out, which if that is the case I won't have the regulators in time because I need to order them online, if I supply. Also, if the energy company does install them I wonder if I can get them cheaper and supply them? Any help would be greatly appreciated. PS: I have chosen the Sensus 143-80-2 regulator, if I need to supply. Obviously the 1/2" or 3/4" pipe will be much easier to work with then 1.25" or 1.5". Any help or comments is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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goyom

My pool builder installed a small regulator at the heater (400k btu) and ran 1.25" pipe from the heater to the gas meter. Center point replaced my regulator at the meter with a much larger one, and then hooked up the builder line to it.
Turned on the gas and tested everything.

I asked the tech if that was standard, and he said that's how they do all of them.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 5:18PM
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kspoolman

Its all about distance.

For longer runs, the 2 pound set is required to move the gas over longer distances. Thus the medium pressure meter and the two regulators.

For shorter runs, the lower pressure meter with a larger gas line will suffice.

At 45 ft I would go with a larger low pressure meter and the larger gas line. Wont have to mess with the regulators (and yes, you are required to provide them)

Also, here in Houston, Centerpoint charges around $350.00 for a medium pressure meter changeout, but hardly ever charges for a larger, low pressure meter swap.

Hope that helps

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:34PM
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starplex

Thanks guys for the info. I talked with the pool plumber of my PB who normally would put these in and he mentioned that they always supply the regulator for the heater, but Centerpoint takes care of the reduction for the house supply. Actually I have done a cost comparision and going with the larger line is more expensive then supplying the regulators with 3/4" pipe. Alot more expensive if I only have to supply one regulator vs two, which I think is now the case. However, I guess if I can avoid the charges for the meter up charge then the larger pipe with no regulators is cheaper... Guess I need to really talk with Centerpoint.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:01PM
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starplex

Well Centerpoint called today and you are exactly right kspoolman. For the medium pressure meter they want $350 & I provide the regulators. Or install the high volume, low pressure 7in wc meter for no charge. Thus I will have them install the low pressure high volume meter for no charge and I will then run 1.5" diameter pipe over to the heater. The next question is what are the thoughts of running the natural gas underground in a 1.5" galvanized pipe??? This would be a much easier install and a shorter run then if I stayed above ground. Lots of obstacles in the way. Thanks

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 9:11PM
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starplex

So I called a local plumber and asked for a price to install the PE2406 gas tubing (yellow plastic pipe) 1.5" if I dug the ditch. Turns out the price he provided me is only about $25 more than if I purchased & installed the 1.5" pipe myself. You can only buy the PE pipe in 150ft rolls, thus not economical for me to purchase directly. Looks like I'll hire a plumber myself for this application!!! Man the markup for the PB plumber must be extremely high. They had $950 for this installation, whereas I'm hiring out for $200. Maybe they were figuring on having to provide additional regulators, but even then still high.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:38AM
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Aggieneer

So Starplex,

How did all this conclude? Did you get the upgraded meter? Which one? did you have any problems with the heater?

I have a 175 cu.ft./hr rated gas meter and a 400,000 Btu/hr pool heater. The gas company tech came out and said I needed a "Pool Heater Set Up". Which would be your option 1. The weird thing is that I have only recently have had trouble with the heater. It has turned on before and all of a sudden I am having problems. I am having a pool heater tech come out (for $100!) to tell me if there is anything wrong with my heater. But with more and more research I do I am figuring that I need a bigger meter...

Any in sight? I am hesitant to do the meter upgrade because its an older house (1962) and if you pressure test the gas line I am afraid it might bust a leak somewhere.

Any advice?

Thanks,
Houston TX

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 4:20PM
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goyom

Aggineer did the heater kick out any error messages or codes on the LCD readout ?

Mine did this and it was a simple issue with the roll out flame sensor, that once tripped had to be replaced before the heater would run again, it was a $15 part, and easy to swap.
I have a Raypak heater.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 2:30PM
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poolguynj

A 400K BTU heater needs almost 400 cubic feet per hour at 2 PSI plus the cumulative needs of the house added on. It usually also needs a 1.25" inch line to act as a buffer when there is some distance involved and a 3/4" line at the heater itself. To try a 175 cubic foot meter under this situation is not going to fly and will cause a pool heater to have all kinds of problems. It can also present problem in the house if the appliances are trying to run too.

Most plumbers that I know will give a homeowner a break if they dig the trench and get it passed by the inspector.

There are not that many multi-stage gas systems here in NJ. There may be some in other parts of the country where intermediate runs may be at a different pressure than end runs. Its a matter of economics for the most part. Who is bearing the costs associated with each type of system is the main factor.

What happens before the meter is not the homeowner's issue. Let the gas company do their job. If they have to shut the street, they have to shut the street. I really do doubt that that would be needed though.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 8:06AM
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sunbather

I also have had the same problem. I upgrade my gas meter to the med. Size, now the plumber is coming out to add the regulator. Also, please add scale to your pool water. Houston has hard water and scale does build up on the heating elements, it usually takes a couple of weeks to work.
So if you are getting a knocking on the heater unit, that is usually the problem. Not so much as the gas flow..

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:20AM
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poolguynj

Please learn about calcium hardness. Heaters don't need it. Gunite pools will as water without a lot of calcium becomes aggressive towards the cement in the plaster finish, making it rough.

Another couple of look ups would be for Calcium Saturation Index and Langlier Saturation Index.

As I recall, Houston water is pretty hard to begin with.

Scott

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:05AM
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