LPG Law and how it applies to you
All gas installations are certified and monitored by the Liquified Petroleum Gas Safety Association of South Africa.
Gas installations is a large part of our business, after all, we would have no-one to deliver gas to if no-one had any gas installations that required supply! It seems however that there is no easy access to information out there on the greater Interweb relating to the legal aspects of LPG installations in South Africa.
The law, however, is quite clear on what is required of gas installations and practitioners who perform the installations. The standards by which we have to perform gas installations are set forward in SANS code 10087-1:20013 edition 6, and explicitly spells out what is- and what is not- allowed. The problem is that, even though the code is fairly comprehensive and surprisingly easy to read, it is not freely available. Copy right laws prohibit us from even publishing extracts of the act here for you to see. The code is obviously publicly available from the SABS website, but a digital download will cost you R617.88 (vat incl)*. SANS 10087-1:2013 is available for purchase HERE.
Luckily we have several copies, and we are always happy to show customers exactly how their installations can be affected by the rule of law.
So what does the law really say?
First and foremost the law states that, without exception, ONLY qualified, SAQCC-Gas registered gas installers are allowed to install or service any gas appliance. This used to be a manufacturer recommendation, which affected the warranty of your appliance, but this is now an enforced law under the Department of Labour. Hand in hand with this legislation is the fact that the law now requires ALL gas installations to have a valid Certificate Of Compliance, or COC, much like an electrical or plumbing certificate. Insurance companies also insist on a valid COC for gas installations when processing any claims, so it really is worth your while having these documents in order.
Acquiring a COC is fairly easy provided that your installation is compliant. Any SAQCC registered domestic gas practitioner can issue a COC for your home, although businesses will require the services of a commercial- or industrial- installer, depending on the size and type of installation. We have contact details for a number of reliable installers in our area, but installer credentials can also be checked on the SAQCC Gas Website.
Is my installation compliant?
It is very important to understand a few of the basics from the SANS code, whether you are getting your existing installation certified, or planning a new installation. We hope this information will be useful to you, as we often arrive on sites where gas installations have almost become an afterthought, or the way that they have been planned would not be compliant.
Generally speaking, we can divide most domestic gas installations into 2 categories, namely an external installation and a cupboard, or internal installation. The regulations for Cupboard installations are a little simpler, but each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Probably the simplest form of gas installation, especially for kitchen appliances, is to put your gas cylinder inside a cupboard next to your appliance, such as a stove or hob. The regulations for these installations have a few requirements however:
- The cupboard used to contain the cylinder MUST be sealed off from all other cupboards around it.
- The cupboard door must be vented at the top AND bottom to ensure free ventilation around the cylinder.
- The cupboard MAY NOT be directly below your hob.
- No electrical connections, plugs or switches are allowed inside the cupboard being used to house LPG cylinders
- Although the use of flexible orange gas hose is permitted, this type of hose MAY NOT be used at the point where the gas line passes through the side of your cupboard. At this point the line either needs to be of sleeved copper pipe, or a bulkhead fitting is to be used.
- The room containing the cupboard MUST NOT contain any electrical distribution boards.
Provided these conditions are met, your cupboard installation will most likely be compliant.**
One of the most important things to consider when planning an outdoor installation, is a section of the SANS code referring to minimum distances. There are very strict requirements of minimum distances that are specified from your cylinder to certain features such as doors, windows and electrical points. Here are a few of the most important minimum distances as set out by the standard.
Gas cylinders must always be installed a minimum distances away from:
- At least 1m away from any door or window which extends below the height of the cylinder valves
- At least 3m away from any boundry wall that is not a firewall
- If the boundry wall is a firewall, the cylinders may be installed against the wall
- At least 2m away from any inlet for an air conditioner
- At least 5m away from any electrical source
- At least 2m away from any drain or manhole
As well as the specifications listed above, there are some little-known regulations that apply to all gas installations.
The first one we encounter on a regular basis refers to gas lines that are run under the floor of a building. It is a legal requirement for ANY gas line running under a floor inside a building to be marked on an approved plan for that building. Pipelines running under floors, or underground externally are also considered as ‘critical locations’ by the SANS code.
According to the SANS Standard, any location where a gas pipe may pass through, where gas can not be freely vented to the atmosphere is considered a critical location. Gas lines in critical locations have strict limitations, not only on the type of pipe that may be used, but also the types of joints that are allowed on those pipes. Copper tubes for example are not allowed to have ANY joints in a critical location, and must be sleeved inside a PVC pipe or some other protective layer.
Something else we often see on older installations is the lack of sleeves being used for copper pipes where they pass through walls. Legally, any copper pipe passing through a solid structure, be it wood, brick or the side of a cupboard, must be sleeved in PVC or another form of protective sleeving.
Thatched roof buildings present their own unique set of challenge. Gas cylinders are not allowed to be installed under the eaves of a thatched roof, and must be located at least 3 meters away from the building. Long grass and any other combustible materials must also be kept at least 3 meters away from any gas installation.
Why so much red tape?
Although the regulations are sometimes a little strict and can seem unreasonable, all the rules and guidelines set out in the SANS 10087-1:2013 standard are based on experience gained from the industry over a number of years. Every part of the standard is designed to ensure that your LPG installation is as safe as possible and that installers can be held accountable for their work. Another factor not often considered, is the safety of emergency workers, such as the fire department, who need to be protected in the event of a fire. A compliant gas installation, gives them the best chance of performing their duties safely.
Although gas explosions are often reported in the media, it is EXTREMELY RARE for a compliant installation, with legally filled and sealed cylinders to ever have any kind of problem.
If you consider the peace of mind you get from knowing that you and your family are safe, thanks to a competent, professional practitioner installing your gas appliances according to the highest safety standards in the country, the red tape suddenly pales in significance.
In a follow up post, we will discuss maintenance requirements on your gas installation – Come back to find out:
- how to check your installation for leaks
- how often to have your installation inspected
- how to keep your appliances in peak working condition
- when you need to replace regulators, or pigtails or various other components
Checking for leaks
* Pricing information correct at time of publishing
** Please note that these basic concepts in NO WAY constitute the full extent of requirements by the code and are only meant as a rough guideline to check for yourself if your installation is compliant, or to help plan a new installation.