How Much Will It Cost???
August 7, 2007 10:18 AM   Subscribe

How Much to Replace Copper Gas Lines in a small house?

In the process of buying a house and upon inspection we found that the Gas lines running trough the house are all copper and will need to be replaced with black iron pipe. We have been trying to get an estimate for the work as the seller will provide up to $1400 at closing for the repairs. It is a small Cape Cod style house. The gas line comes in at the front of the house and the Furnace and hot water heater both reside about 30 feet away on the other side of the basement (back of house) with a gas stove located directly above the hot water heater in the kitchen (may have the line capped as we will be buying a new electric range). The estimates we have tried to get on the work and m,materials have not been helpful as one contractor said he wanted to use steel pipe (more expensive) and the other basically asked how much $ do we have. Anyone have a similar experience and if so we are trying to figure a ball estimate for the work ?
posted by slowtree to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what a good ballpark amount for this is, but one thing to keep in mind is that copper is fetching pretty good prices these days. You may be able to recoup some of the cost of the replacement by selling the old copper lines.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 10:28 AM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is REALLY going to vary depending upon where you are located, the skill of the contractor, whether they are independent/subcontractor of a larger company, cost of copper lately. What part of the world do you live in?
posted by jeanmari at 10:45 AM on August 7, 2007

Replacing gas lines is not hard - fairly easy work regardless of the distances involved. You may want to consider trying to get bids on hourly + materials and see how they compare. I would go with a licensed plumber rather than a contractor assuming you are willing/able to hire them yourself.

One thing to note: "Black iron" gas pipe is in fact steel pipe, it's the same thing as the silvery steel pipe except that the latter is galvanized. You want to use the black iron for gas as you've noted.
posted by true at 10:49 AM on August 7, 2007

Copper is over $3 a pound where I am.

The person you need to call is a gas-certified pipefitter -- master plumbers are also gas-cert pipefitters. This is a simple job for someone with the right tools and the skills. It's literally a couple of hours of work, depending on how easy it is to access the pipes.

And don't get an electric range! Cooking with gas is soooooo much better.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:06 AM on August 7, 2007

By "for the repairs", do you mean this item, or any repairs that need to be done? If it were my house, and my plumber, in my town, I'm fairly confident it would come in under the $1400, but that's a very wild guess, and disregards a whole bunch of possible variables and unknowns in your situation.
posted by gimonca at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2007

It's really hard for anyone to give reasonableness on this price because we can't see how many connections would have to be made.

I'm curious, what is compelling the replacement? Is the copper defective? Copper is really common here because it is so wildly cheaper to run.
posted by Mitheral at 11:53 AM on August 7, 2007

How did the seller come up with the $1400 credit? If theyhave that as an estimate from someone I'd try to get in touch with that contractor.
posted by Big_B at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: the house is in the northern ky area across the river from cincinnati oh. we are replacing the copper pipes because the home inspector said that copper pipes for gas is dangerous because argon will deteriote the copper which would allow for gas leaks.

is this not accurate advice? how dangerous is it to have copper pipes running gas?

also the pipes are all exposed and easy to get to in a very small house (aprox 1200 sq ft).
posted by slowtree at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: also the $1400 is being given to replace the gas pipes AND for replacing the stablock electrical panel which is evidentally also a fire hazard. we estimate that the electrical will cost around $500...maybe thats another question we should post
posted by slowtree at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2007

I'd suggest asking your local gas company about using copper.

My situation is a bit different since we use LP rather than natural gas. Our house is 7 years old, and when we moved in the house had a gas fireplace and we bought a gas cooking stove. The company that supplies our LP Gas installed copper tubing, so I assume it's up to code, If anything, I'd think this would be less of an issue for natural gas, since it's not as corrosive as LP and is pumped through the pipes at a relatively low pressure.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2007

That there is a problem with copper tubing for gas is at least controversial. Here is a page from a pro-copper source,, laying out the rebuttal case for copper. It reproduces a 2004 article from the journal of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials which reviews the situation.

In any case, I would not accept advice on this from a person who thought argon is corroding a pipe. Argon is the third most inert substance known (after helium and neon). It's not corroding anything. The problem is sulfur, either from the odorant (probably ethyl mercaptan) or sulfur bearing contaminants in the gas as it came out of the ground.

Call your gas provider and ask them if they've ever had a problem with copper piping in your area before worrying about this at all.
posted by jamjam at 1:40 PM on August 7, 2007

Yeah, I don't know why you'd be replacing the copper in the first place, and I was going to say that, but then thought that there's probably some other factor of which I am unaware. All new construction here uses copper gas lines. I helped install copper gas lines throughout a four-story downtown building a couple of years ago, and it was all up to code.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:54 PM on August 7, 2007

Well, considering the going rate for copper at scrapyards lingers between $3 and $7 a pound, I'd say that you're going to be offsetting your costs quite a bit just by recycling.
posted by TomMelee at 2:18 PM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: From My understanding it has do do more with the solder joints then the piping itself. One plumber I spoke to said that a heavy solder joint would pose no threat at all but it would really depend on how the pipes where fitted together. I guess it would make more sense that the sulfur would corrode the joints rather then the pipes themselves?
posted by slowtree at 4:06 PM on August 7, 2007

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