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Gas pipe removal risky

How to make sure lines are dead

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Q: I read your recent column about how to deal with old gas lines found in houses. My 100-year-old house has several. I have not yet found anyone who can tell me whether any of the pipes are still in use.

My assumption has been that the ones for the lights are neither hot nor connected to the gas lines for the water heater and stove.

Your article described how to remove such pipes, which clearly presupposes that the pipes are not connected to any gas source. I want to be absolutely sure that this is the case.

A: A wise attitude. Our reader stated in no uncertain terms in last month’s column that the lines for his gas-lit wall sconces were abandoned. We took him at his word and proceeded to tell him how to get rid of the old pipes in such a way that he could effectively patch his plaster walls.

You’re not sure whether your old gas lines are abandoned. Assuming they are would be foolhardy. Be safe. It’s better to verify that the lines are dead than charge ahead and risk disaster.

Readers Jim and Jayne Matthews told us this story, giving us pause and proving the point:

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"We purchased our 1901 home in 1986. In opening a wall to do some minor remodeling, we discovered the old gas pipes. Our contractor took out the ones he could see and capped off the old pipe from the street.

"He installed a single new pipe from the street to our kitchen and heating system. The following month our gas bill dropped from about $15 to $2, with no change in usage. The pipes had still been live and had been leaking gas for a long time."

We’re not surprised. Fortunately, nothing bad happened. …CONTINUED