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Seems Like A Lot of Work Just for a Tasty Burger. No, This is Not a Cooking Blog!

I can't imagine a summer without an outdoor grill. After all, having barbeques with family is a tradition for most Americans. A lot of people buy grills that use an LP tank and they work well, but in order to feel safe during a cookout, it's best to have two tanks so when one runs out you can change it quickly. There's nothing worse than running out of gas with friends and family over. Then there's getting the tanks refilled. Here in my town, there's a local hardware store that will do that for you, but that involves transporting the tank and then waiting for it to be filled. The solution? If you have natural gas at your house, go with a natural gas grill.

Natural gas grills have become popular and their availability and price are very similar to LP models. So why doesn't everyone who has natural gas have a natural gas grill? Because you need to have it piped by a licensed plumber or gasfitter, you need a permit, an inspection, and your gas meter and existing piping have to be sized to accommodate the additional BTU load, which depending on the size of the grill, can be anywhere between 30,000 and 80,000. Mine is a 3 burner grill and it has 38,000 BTU. And the single reason not everybody has them is it's not cheap to pipe in...

Once it's established that your meter and piping can handle the additional load of an outdoor grill, the new gas line has to be attached at the right location to ensure that the pipe is big enough to handle the load before and after it. Plumbers and Gasfitters use charts that are based on the length and BTU's to figure this out.

Once a tee is installed on the existing gas line an approved gas shutoff is usually installed immediately after it. This will help get the gas back on without delay and will be a point of isolation so the new branch of the gas main can be pressure tested independently of the rest of the piping. Here in Massachusetts most residential gas lines are tested with 3 PSI of air for 15 minutes and are approved by an Inspector if there is no noticeable drop in pressure on an approved gauge, which must be no larger than 5 times the test pressure. Here in Massachusetts, that means a gauge that goes up to 15 PSI max. The idea is to have increments big enough so even a slight loss in pressure can easily be detected.


Plumber's and gas fitters have a choice of materials. Black iron pipe or CSST/Counterstrike (Corrugated Stainless Steel) are the two most popular, though there are other options. The CSST/Counterstrike is more expensive but less labor-intensive than black iron pipe, which needs to be cut and threaded. I'm old school, so I used black iron pipe and black malleable (BM) fittings. I threaded my pipe using a Ridgid 270 Pipe Threader, which is the little brother to the heavier Ridgid 300, a very popular machine on job sites. Before I purchased the 270 I hand threaded everything. Having the machine was a godsend and I thoroughly enjoy threading pipe with it. Although, it appears to have gotten heavier over the years...

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I was able to remove a drip leg on a 3/4" tee, that was on an existing line feeding my stove and clothes dryer, and install a 3/4" x 1/2" x 1/2" BM Tee with an approved gas valve on one of the runs. I ran my pipe along the outside wall at the rear of my unfinished basement and hung it using wire hooks (Reznor hangers). Next, I drilled two corresponding holes, one in the outside wall of my house and the other on the outside wall at the far end of the 16' sunroom.

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Once the holes were drilled, I slid a 17' length of pipe through the holes and hung it under the sunroom using side beam hangers, 3/8" threaded rod, and galvanized split-ring hangers (3-piece hanger). I connected it inside using two black malleable 90-degree elbows. I use three wraps of Teflon tape, skipping the first thread and a half, and then apply a thin coat of pipe thread sealant (pipe dope) to the first three threads. I always use two wrenches to tighten my pipe and fittings.

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 The correct number of threads on a 1/2" pipe is "no less than 10 and no more than 12, 11 is good". This yields a thread that is approximately 3/4" long. Proper "thread engagement" for 1/2" pipe is a 1/2", so after tightening the pipe and fitting there should be a 1/4" of thread showing. There's no need to over tighten, or worse, bury the pipe in the fitting.


Once outside under the deck, I drilled a third hole through the decking, and using three 90 degree elbows, and another 3-piece hanger, I ran my piping up through the decking where I installed an approved gas ball valve. At this point, I attached my gauge and tested the new gas line. It was tight.


After purging the line of air, I installed a series of adapters so I could use an approved flexible outdoor appliance connector with a quick disconnect fitting. I finished by painting all the exposed piping and fittings with black Rust-Oleum (MA Code).

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 Finally, time to cook up some tasty burgers!

Paris Hilton Films Carl's Jr.'s New Ad for the Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger J. Vespa. Getty Images.

Cost of materials: $200

Labor: One Old Master Plumber: 12 hours (I split it up and spent parts of two days on it)

Estimated Job Cost with Gas Permit: $1,350