Never heard of tin pipework, but wrt Pb IIRC BS6891 says that existing lead
pipework is acceptable if in good condition. You're not allowed to extend it
or put in new, but you can use what's there.
That's the way I look at it in on site situations. I give a NCS or Not To
Current Standards report. It does strike me as a pretty considerable risk in
a fire situation though. There was a terraced house fire in Goole some time
ago in which the local rag reported the gas had to be cut off during fire
fighting due to a leak "due to the fire" I'm guessing it was a meter
connection in the cupboard under the stairs in 3/4" lead which probably
ended up as a puddle with an uncontrolled escape full bore from the incoming
We shall probably see even more regulations coming along pretty soon :-(
I have seen gas meters with stainless inlet and outlet in fires and not melt
or break joints. A full bore that feeds the fire is what you don't want. I
have also seen a battery of gas meters, in the olden days when they put them
at the front door, that was at the core of a fire and all totally melt.
Most houses in the UK had lead gas pipes. Lead was fitted as choice in most
until WW2 and after. Iron started to replace lead befoire WW2 and after took
off after. In some parts of the country gas pipes are still in iron. In
many new houses iron is still the choice. In other parts of the country
copper has been the norm in gas since WW2 , and still is and should be too.
Natural gas conversion crews never removed lead. In the 1970s lead was
still very common, gas tight and working well.
In the Manchester area the area gas board was installing lead gas pipes for
gas cooker and fores runs up until the late 1970s and probably beyond. I
know friends in Chester who in 1978 had lead pipe delivered for a gas fire
run and told them to take it away and fit copper. They did without question
and all the same price. The fitters would feed the coiled lead through under
the floor boards. One old trick was to open two floor boards at each end of
the run, then send a car down with a string. It always came up at the other
hole in the boards with the string, then they could pull through the coiled
There is nothing wrong with using an existing 3/4" lead gas pipe for a gas
boiler. If it is gas tight then use it. The problem is that not many have
the skills today to make a lead joint, that is why they rip it out. I have
come across 100 year old lead pipe in walls that has been near perfect. The
only problems with the pipe was where they rammed the iron lead hooks into
the wall. These would sometime crimp the lead.
I once came across a house that still had gas lights in the 1970s, with no
electricity in the house. Two old dears who still had a dolly tub. I have
fitted gas lights, made by Veritas, they were popular after the power cuts
in the 1970s. The Tower hotel at Tower Bridge had them fitted in certain
areas. I think they are still there.
. . . . I seem to remember that lead pipe has a habit of growing crystals in
its internal structure, and as they are cubic the material becomes less
ductile and they propogate cracks. This process happens over many decades
but I'm assured that it does happen. I've had a lead water main go this way
in a house of circa 1890.
Personally I'd not be at all happy with lead gas pipes and my preference is
for threaded gas barrel indoors - it's eay to work if you have the correct
tools, and in future will turn that floor nail that someone may knock in.
Using copper is ok in theory but in the nail senario with water you know
imediately that you have a leak whereas with gas you may not find out until
it's too late !
When lead pipe is embedded in plaster it is supported on all side, so less
strain when expansion and contraction occurs. Lead on hooks on the wall
would sag and fail early. I have come across 100 year old lead pipe in
basements, where the temperature is pretty stable all year around, that was
supported on wall batons. It was near perfect, having no chance to sag.
"gas barrel"? What is this?
They give gas a smell to notify people that there is an escape. Copper gas
pipes can be installed so that nails will not penetrate it.
You may find that the pipe is not lead at all, but "block tin". I've got some
of this that I took out my place & it has a smother finish than lead and will
be very shiny if cut or the oxide removed.
Good news is that if you remove it you will get many times the price that
lead fetches at the scrappy. Unfortunately it will be many times more
difficult to work or to cap than lead. If you try to form wet joint using a
blowtorch you will likely end up with a large blob of liquid tin on the floor
(low melting point and abrupt change of state) and if you use compression,
the thin wall thickness is likely to collapse.
I'm sorry to say that in your place I would take it back to copper, even if
that means breaking open floors/walls.
ps: the scrappy will tell you it's lead - it's not . . .
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