I haven't been able to find online references to the rules, and I don't own a code book.

We have a 300 gallon propane tank, with 5/8" copper line going to a standby generator and into the house for a boiler and range. All installed at the same time about 4 years ago when the house was built.

I recently had my propane tank moved about 10' so we can add on to our garage. The gas company originally told me I needed to replace all of my lines because it's a code violation to bury couplings with copper piping.

In an effort to avoid digging up ~50' of line, I called the propane contractor who did the original install 4 years ago. (I was referred to this contractor by someone I trust and who should know that he's qualified.) He said the gas company was using an old code book, that they were incorrect. He came and extended my line, which I backfilled, and called out the gas company's lift truck to move the tank.

When they came out to do the move, they pointed out multiple violations with the installation:

  • buried couplings, 5/8" to 5/8", including a tee going to the generator
  • the new coupling he put in -- to be buried -- was black iron (which seems like a bad idea even to me who knows very little about this stuff)
  • the coupling going from 5/8" to the 3/8" line heading into the 2nd stage regulator at the garage was buried, including several feet of the uncoated 3/8" line
  • buried uncoated copper (it's supposed to be plastic coated copper?)

So in the end I had to do all the digging and pay the gas company to replace my lines. I also have this bill from the contractor that I need to have refunded.

Where can I find references, preferably chapter and verse, to code requirements so that I have some leverage with him?

If it matters, I'm in New Hampshire (USA). (And no, my town doesn't have any local code enforcement.)


1 Answer 1


I cannot fully answer your question, but it seems that New Hampshire simply uses the ICC guidelines for building codes, including for "Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas" which seems to be the key area here.

Not being an ICC member, I can't access the documents, and neither the New Hampshire Statutes website nor the State Building Codes website reprints these documents for public viewing. This may be to encourage the use of licensed individuals for work subject to code, but IMO as "ignorance of the law is no excuse" in most jurisdictions you should be able to educate yourself on the building code free of charge, the same as for any other section of law. I would call your county clerk and ask how to get ahold of a copy of the codes. It may cost you a little money for their time and paper, but if they can help you here it probably won't be as expensive as an ICC membership for yourself.

If the government won't help (excuse my cynicism but I'd put money on various offices passing the buck), if you need chapter and verse, just get it from both the propane guy and the gas company. They're telling you two very different things, and they can't both be right. Ask both companies for a hard copy of the section of the building codebook, with title and year of that document, detailing the relevant codes which back up their understanding of how it should be done. Both are working for you, and one has shafted you; my money for which one is with the one who can't quote the most recent official codebook recognized by the State of New Hampshire.

  • Good advice, I'll probably start with the propane company (the techs they sent were actually apologetic for the whole snafu).
    – bstpierre
    Jun 29, 2011 at 17:39
  • Note that since this answer was written, the ICC has posted their codes online @ codes.iccsafe.org Dec 29, 2023 at 4:43

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