Imagine the warmth you could have by running natural gas out to your detached garage. You can stay nice and toasty all Winter long with a whole slew of heating options that would previously be unavailable. But, it’s going to take some serious work. And that’s why we’re spending some time in this article covering the basics of how to run a gas line to a detached garage.
A Few Things To Consider
Working with natural gas is no joke; you can seriously injure yourself, or worse, if you aren’t careful. Not to mention you can do some serious and substantial damage to your home if improperly installed.
Which is why there are a few crucial things to take into account before beginning your installation.
First, you need to do a proper assessment of your current skill-set in relation to the task at hand. Installing natural gas lines fit squarely in the advanced DIY category. If you have any hesitations on your capacity to do this then it would be best to consult directly with a professional.
Second, always go about the install with an eye towards safety. Be detailed, slow, and thorough in accomplishing all connections and never actively engage gas in your lines until the proper tests and inspections have been accomplished.
Lastly, bear in mind that natural gas is heavily regulated. Be sure to consult with your local jurisdiction to verify that you can actually complete the install (or if a licensed professional is required) and what local standards and codes will apply to your current installation.
Start By Laying Out Your Route
There’s only one place to start – laying out the route from where your current natural gas line begins. A good point of reference is to begin close to, but definitely after, where the primary gas valve is located. You’ll eventually be branching off from this area to run your new garage line.
More than likely you’re going to have to run your lines underground (there will be very, very few situations in which this isn’t necessary so we’ll be assuming through this article that you will be running underground lines).
Since this is the case, you’ll want to identify where you’ll physically be running the line into the garage. Then work to find the shortest and clearest route between the two points; avoid landscaping or areas you know are going to be rocky and tough to address.
Keep in mind that you’ll be working to run a trench that’s roughly 12” wide and 20” deep so be sure to map this out appropriately.
Consider Your Bill Of Material
Once you have your route mapped out it’s time to put together the bill of material that you will need to complete the job. Start with considering the sort of pipe that you will need to accomplish the install.
If you will end up needing to run the line underground then you will need to get some poly pipe that is specifically designed for burial; standard black pipe can be used on all above-ground applications.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different fitting options available from the manufacturer of the appropriate type/brand of pipe. Make sure that you have enough to fulfill all your turns and connections (transitioning from black to poly pipe at the proper junctures). It would be worthwhile to add a secondary shut-off valve at the location the line is entering the garage
Once you have all your material selected and procured you’ll want to go ahead and rent a trencher (unless you want to spend hours manually digging) in order to cut the trench for your line. The smaller units you need to run for a residential application are usually available for a couple hundred bucks a day.
Installing Your Lines
Fortunately, all that work in layout and preparation that you’ve done will make the actual install process fairly straightforward. The very first starting place should always be finding the gas valve and cutting it off. You cannot go about working on these lines while the gas is live.
Next, go ahead and fire up the trencher and cut your trench. Pay special attention in working around root systems as this can cause the whole process to be very difficult and tumultuous.
With the trench being cut you can go ahead and start laying your pipe. Be educated on the use of all the fittings based on the manufacturer’s listings and ensure that all the connections are properly arranged and fully sealed. Take your time and be methodical and focused with all the connections; this is the primary area where things can go off-kilter.
With the connections made and the pipe laid, go ahead and exit out through the trench and work to install the new valve at the detached garage. Then run your interior piping to the appliance or system you are working to run.
Eventually, after the next few inspection steps are accomplished, you can close out the install by back-filling dirt to close up your trench.
Inspecting Your Installation
Before you go about the work of closing your trench up you need to test the lines to ensure that no leaks are present. Make sure to research your local code requirements – each jurisdiction is going to be different in the type and duration of testing that needs to be done.
Typically speaking, there are two forms of testing you will engage and they both involve applying compressed air into the line to test for pressure.
First, once the compressed air is applied, you’ll take a 1:1 mixture of water and dish detergent and spray across all your connections. You’ll be looking for any bubbling – should you see any you’ll need to revisit and shore up the quality of that connection.
Next, you’ll apply a pressure meter to the far end of your line and let it register against the compressed air for 24hrs. If there is any drop in pressure during this time you have some sort of leak that will need to be located and addressed – if the pressure holds you’re in good shape.