When it comes to DIY, being neat and tidy becomes a top priority. From the finishing of your project all the way to the foundation it lays on, everything needs to be tidy. There is also a matter of safety, which becomes increasingly important when it comes to electrical systems and gas lines.
A common question that DIY-ers often ask is whether running an electrical wire next to a gas line is safe or not. This question stems from the fact that there is no gas or electrical code that addresses this issue or categorizes it as a hazard. So, is it something we need to worry about?
Well, the answer to that is both, yes and no. Yes, you can, but should you? When you’re running the wire, it might be safe because of the rubber insulation around. But pests may damage the insulation and cause the gas piping to become energized. In that case, this is a disaster waiting to happen. However, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
Running an Electrical Wire Next to Gas a Line; The Intricacies
As mentioned above, there is no code that dictates whether or not lines can run together in the same conduit or raceway. However, there are recommendations. These recommendations suggest that you should keep a distance of at least 3 feet between utility lines.
This distancing recommendation serves to allow enough room for wires to breathe even if there is a mishap. High voltage electrical wires have a much thicker insulation around them because of this very precaution.
When running through conduits, it is recommended that you extend electrical wires separately, especially from water and gas lines. On their own, they present no threat. However, if they become exposed and come in contact with one another, the results can be rather devastating.
A properly installed gas line that is bonded to the ground (as required by core) and wiring (in a raceway or conduit) reduces the hazard significantly. But that doesn’t mean there is no risk. If you’re completing a project and are on a budget, considering passing both utilities through the same pipe, we recommend you try to find another way. A PVC conduit is the best way to mitigate the risks.
Electrical Wires Next to Gas Lines in Trenches, Ceilings, and Walls
When it comes to trenches, you might not have 3 feet to separate your utilities. When that happens, you might be tempted to pass the same wires through the same conduit. If the conduit is PVC, you may be able to reduce potential hazards. However, this isn’t recommended.
Trenches get exposed to all sorts of weather and can therefore lead to degradation of the pipes and your conduit as a whole. This, in turn, may lead to erosion of electrical wires. If those wires get in touch with the gas line, it might energize the whole piping.
This is why when installing both lines together in trenches, make sure the conduit is weather resistant, the gas line has plastic tubing instead of steel/metal, and the electrical wire has its own raceway. The wiring should be TW, THW, THHN/THWN, or other weather and moisture resistant wire.
Ceilings & Walls
Here, the main consideration at play needs to be the material your ceiling is made of. If there is drywall or wood and in case the two utilities come together, you’re looking at an overheating issue which may, in turn, lead to fires.
With proper insulation, you may run electrical wires next to a gas line in the ceiling. Just remember that these wires are also going to be exposed to extreme heat or cold and in severe cases; moisture. Indoors, you have the benefit of fused breakers looking out for you so chances are that in case of contact, you might just end up with a tripped breaker.
Extending Electrical Wires & Gas Lines – How to Do-It-Yourself Properly?
Let’s say you made a detached garage or patio and want to extend an electrical wire and a gas line to it. The first thing you need to know here is that there is no code that dictates how deep your trench should be or how far apart your lines need to be.
However, since you’re doing it yourself, you have a variety of options, without it costing you extra. You’ll only have to invest your time. To start off:
- Dig a trench or two. Although digging separate trenches for both the lines is better, you can take the shorter route as well by just digging one trench.
- If you dig just one trench, try buying a joint-trench conduit. These conduits have two (or more) separate compartments to run your lines through. However, a white PVC conduit will work, too, though it is mostly used for plumbing.
- Run a 6/3 ground wire to a 60 ampere, 240 volts subpanel.
- Dig a trench 1-2 feet deep for the electrical wires.
- The gas pipes need to be 1-1.5 feet deep.
- A good depth for both pipes is 18 inches.
- If you have a plumbing line, dig a little deeper for that. Not only will it keep your gas and electrical wires away from water, your pipe won’t burst that easy, either.
- Once you’ve laid the necessary lines, lay moisture-resistant tarp on top. However, this step is optional.
- Connect your wires and gas line, check for any leakages or distortions and cover the conduit back up.
And you’re done!
You’ll notice that you have the option of running an electrical wire next to a gas line if that is what you’d like to do. It is quite possible, just not recommended.