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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
Gas Controls & Piping: in this article series we provide descriptions and photographs how to select, install, diagnose or repair leaks or operating problems in fuel gas piping, regulators, or controls used on gas fired appliances or heating equipment, addressing both natural gas and LP gas equipment.
In this article we also discuss the procedure for converting from LP gas or "bottled gas" to natural gas or "piped in gas" at a building.
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More details about LP or natural gas immediate safety actions and hazards are at GAS LP & NATURAL GAS SAFETY HAZARDS.
Our photo at left shows a gas meter installed indoors in a building utility basement. This will be a natural gas installation in which fuel gas is delivered to the building by a municipal gas supply system.
How to Recognize Piped in Natural Gas Supply at a Property
Natural gas is supplied by the utility company through piping, usually buried in the street in front of or behind the building, and entering the building through a gas meter which is located outside or at older installations, possibly inside the building.
At above right you will recognize yellow piped-in natural gas supply piping connected to a digital gas meter located on a building in central Mexico.
Above is a large gas meter and regulator installation at a New York facility.
How to recognize LP gas or Bottled Gas Supply at a Property or Building
LP Gas or "bottled gas" or liquid propane gas is supplied (usually) by a local LP gas distributor who fills an LP gas tank located on and serving the building.
The LP gas tank may be above ground (usually at a building exterior wall) or it may be buried at the property. Below at right we show a large LP gas tank or "bottled gas" serving a community of homes.
Natural gas and LP gas appliance compatibility - converting a gas appliance between LP & natural gas
These two fuels are similar in that both are used to provide energy to home heating systems and other appliances but they have some different properties of operating gas pressure, weight, method of distribution, and chemistry.
Most gas appliances are delivered already set up to use either natural gas or LP gas but not both without having to make some device adjustments or parts changes.
Most gas appliances can be converted from one fuel to the other - what is involved may be simply changing gas metering orifices in the equipment (for example at the burners on a stove) or it may also be necessary to change or adjust a gas regulator located inside the appliance.
Watch out: Do not hook up an LP gas-ready appliance to a natural gas supply nor can you connect a natural-gas ready appliance to an LP gas supply without reviewing and acting on the manufacturer's instructions for converting the appliance from one fuel to the other. It is virtually always the case that some equipment adjustments and changes are necessary to switch between natural gas and propane gas.
As JR, an industry manager familiar with gas pressures pointed out, these two fuel gases operate at different pressures. In residential appliances
Typically the conversion between fuels requires simply the rotation, inversion, or adjustment of parts already present on the gas appliance. From left to right: an oven burner control internal part is rotated to convert between LP or Natural gas. At second from left the stove top gas burner air shutter position is adjusted. At below right, a component inside the gas regulator is inverted.
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Details on converting between natural gas & LP gas or bottled gas: if you are planning to convert from one gas fuel to another, such as from LP gas (bottled gas or liquid petroleum gas) to piped in natural gas, see our advice and safety warnings at GAS CONVERSION LP-NATURAL GAS.
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