About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

New gas supply

The gauge on our huge gas tank has been in the red for a while, and when it suddenly dropped to zero we knew we wouldn't get much more out of it. This is a good thing, because we want rid of it. We no longer use gas for our central heating, just the cooker and one fire, and the tank is an ugly great thing taking up valuable space. We have a plan for replacing it with a much smaller bottle, and a couple of weeks ago, I implemented the first step of that plan, making a base for the bottle to stand on.

On Friday evening, I went to light the cooker and no gas came out. My immediate response was to dig out the camping stove to cook dinner, but it was definitely time to move onto the next stage of the plan. Unfortunately, I wasn't entirely sure what that was. The gas bottle has a regulator attached, and I'd checked that this supplies the same pressure as the one on the big tank. Good - no need to buy a regulator, then. However, the output of this device is a nozzle suitable for a rubber hose, whereas the gas goes into my house through a large copper pipe. I wasn't at all sure whether it would be possible to marry these two up, and internet searches were not encouraging.

I called a friend. Luckily, my friend Jasper knows about things like this, and assured me that not only is it possible to join rubber piping to copper, but there's an adapter specifically for the purpose that should be quite easily available. I headed into town - the first shop I went to didn't sell gas fittings, but recommended another shop, which did. Unfortunately I'd failed to check the size of the copper pipe in question, and it turned out to be much larger than standard, so I had to go out again this morning to buy an adapter. Since these all came with compression fittings (as opposed to solder) I felt reasonably confident in tackling the job myself. I haven't soldered before and have no intention of starting by pointing a blow torch at a gas pipe!

With advice and loan of tools from Jasper (I did try cutting a bit of pipe with a hacksaw. This is a bad idea.) and more advice from the internet, I connected up the various bits of plumbing until I had a gas bottle connected to my house.

The gas bottle came free with a second hand cooker.
We had to pay for the gas in it.

Here's a closer view of the connection:

Several bits, connected together

It would have been easier without the old stuff in the way, but I'm not sure whether that belongs to the gas supplier, and is therefore part of the plumbing that I'm absolutely not allowed to touch.

At this point, the rain got heavier, so I went indoors to test from there.

Not the prettiest gas fire, but a more visible demonstration than the oven.

Hooray, it works! I had no idea whether my plumbing was leaking, at this stage, but if it was I was just losing gas fairly harmlessly outdoors. When the rain eased a bit, I went out with soapy water to check.

Ah, yes, that is blowing bubbles there.

Once I'd worked out which joint was leaking, I realised that it was the only one of a different type, i.e. the seal on this one is made by the screw thread itself. That'll need a bit of Jasper's PTFE tape, then (I have some, but not gas pipe grade). This was irritating, because I should have spotted it before I put it together, and it meant pulling the rubber hose off the regulator to unscrew the fitting. Still, it wasn't too big a job. I did it, and it seems to be fine now. The one remaining task is to write to the supplier asking them to remove the big tank. They're going to want money for that job.

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