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The Clumsy Plumber – How a big number from Plumber #1 changed the project, and again with the gas line.

The big number arrived by voice mail Monday. Depressing. Bewildering. Large.

I put out a plea for the number of another plumber on the yahoo email group. The first response was back-channel from a DIY (do-it-yourself) Falcon who ended up changing the course of the brewery construction.

The none-too-delicate suggestion was that I stop typing so much and pick up a wrench.

If some of you are hoping this means I won't continue to prattle on endlessly about every valve and coupling, guess again. The total blog reads may suffer, but not more than you, dear reader.

My initial thought had been that of all the home improvement projects I should attempt myself, gas lines were not on the list. I still don't plan to touch the gas meter or its pipes. I'll leave that to someone experienced and qualified. But after a trip to Lowe's, and some tips from Plumbers #1 & #2, I don't see why Dad and I can't connect and secure most of the pipe ourselves.

So that's the plan now. Dad and I will construct most of the piping and secure it to the patio ceiling and walls, and a qualified plumber will be consulted later to attach the pipe system to the gas line.

I've learned a few things about natural gas lines this week. The sign at Lowe's says galvanized pipe may be used, but that black iron pipe is ideal. Plumber #1 had mentioned galvanized, so galvanized it is. Besides, Lowe's has all the couplings, reducers, tees and other pieces in galvanized, but a few were missing in black pipe. And even though the black iron pipe is cheaper, the couplings and other connectors are higher. So I think galvanized will end up cheaper as well.

The DIY Falcon said to use yellow tape to wind around the threads before connecting the pre-threaded pipe. The kid at Lowe's said they were out of yellow tape, but the All-Purpose tape would also work. Plumber #1 recommended Key-Tite, a green goop he says “never leaks.” Boy, do I like the sound of that.

The gas pipes need to be secured with galvanized fasteners, per Plumber #1. By the time I spoke with Plumber #2, who had responded via the email group, the plan had already changed to partial-DIY. But he was nice enough to mention that the fasteners need to be no more than six feet apart, and that the pipe could not rest on the ground. A foot above ground is ok.

Another development is we will see if we can forgo a quick disconnect at the brewery in favor of a shut off valve connected to a flexible hose. I expect it will be cheaper, and should avoid any flow restriction. I wanted a quick disconnect to be able to unplug the brewing monstrosity from the wall easily, in case I someday sell the house. But in that event, it should be easy enough to cap this line instead.

Still no burner. I think the reason it was the cheapest burner on the internet is that it may only exist on the internet. I would like to get the burner in my hands before starting any construction. And I have Christmas presents to buy, so I don't expect to do any more work on the brewery until probably next year. If I don't have the burner by then, I may have to spend an extra eight bucks for a burner that actually does exist.

One last wrinkle. It turns out Lowe's is in a tiff about some reality show about American Muslims, prompting criticism from my Mom and daughter. It's a shame, really, because I liked the selection and layout at Lowe's better than Home Depot or OSH. Can't we all just brew beer?


Sal Sciortino, the Younger, is a BJCP National Judge and a card-carrying member of the Maltose Falcons Homebrewing Society.


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