Copper's Competitive Edge

January 13, 2005


Flexible Copper Tube for Gas Installations Gives Builders Big Advantage

ORLANDO, FL— Gas appliances, from high-end kitchen ranges and see-through fireplaces to outdoor barbecues, are among today's hottest homebuyer options. And, when installed using copper tubing, builders and their homebuyers realize significant cost-benefits, according to Andy Kireta Jr, national program manager for the Copper Development Association.

For some 40 years, flexible copper tube has been used for gas distribution in residential construction with great success in several areas of the USA, such as Alabama, Minnesota, St. Louis, Mo., and Washington, D.C. In 1989, the National Fuel Gas Code formally recognized copper tube and copper alloy fittings for both interior and exterior fuel-gas distribution; the code provision has been adopted in many other states

More and more gas utilities are promoting the advantages of copper to builders in their service areas. TECO Peoples Gas of Florida, for example, conducts an aggressive education program, pointing out the savings in both materials and labor costs over the alternatives of rigid black steel pipe or corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). Similar programs are being mounted by utilities in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arkansas.

CDA is exhibiting at the International Builders Show in the American Gas Industry Booth #1983 in the West Hall of the Orange County Convention Center.

Protecting homeowners from vulnerability to power outages is another reason why more builders are installing gas. Storms, like those that devastated Florida and much of the South recently, and widespread power outages, such as last year's blackouts in the Northeast and the Pacific states, are reminders why the use of gas power has become so important and has grown so much in the past 30 years.

After the hurricanes, people remembered why they use gas," explains Rick Schaffer, a representative for Mobile Gas in Alabama, which was hit hard by the 2004 storms. "Unlike electricity, when the power lines go down, gas is still cooking. It also provides hot water and heat in northern areas where icy snowstorms can cause power outages."

Regional managers from the CDA's Tube, Pipe and Fittings division make themselves available to speak to local homebuilder associations, utilities and contractors, or visit building sites to demonstrate proper installation procedures and the advantages of using copper tube for gas.

Plumbers familiar with copper-tube gas systems claim copper is the easiest and fastest pipe material to install because it requires no special tools or additional training - it's the same readily available material used everywhere for water distribution.

Most importantly, homeowners love their gas appliances. "Installing permanent gas lines with quick-connect convenience outlets in multiple locations throughout the house just makes life easier," notes CDA's Kireta. "Homeowners value the convenience of gas, whether it's in the kitchen for cooking, in their family room or bedroom fireplace, or in the barbecue out on their patio or deck. And builders understand this."

For more information on using copper tubing for fuel gas distribution, visit our Fuel Gas section.