August 30, 2015
I had a long day working on the tiny house yesterday, but I accomplished something kind of amazing. Yesterday, I finally installed a gas line inside the tiny house and got my propane stove working. That’s a huge deal. Getting this done is something that has been scaring me for at least the past year and a half. I have been thinking about it for a long time, both trying to figure out how to do it myself and trying to figure out if I should even do it myself. After all, installing a gas line incorrectly can lead to rather unpleasant consequences. I really thought I was going to hire somebody else to do it. However, I kept doing more and more research until I finally felt a high degree of confidence that I could handle this myself. I’m glad I decided to do it myself because it turns out it wasn’t that big a deal. Within one day, I was able to buy everything that I needed at the hardware store, get it installed, test it for leaks, hook up my propane stove and actually get everything to work.
I decided to plumb my gas system with black pipe since that is what Tumbleweed told me that they use. I was happy to discover that working with black pipe is relatively easy. You can buy various lengths of threaded pipe at Home Depot so you don’t have to cut or thread it yourself. You also buy a little bit of pipe compound to seal the threads. You apply the pipe compound to the male threads and screw the fittings together until they are tight. It’s pretty much that simple. Probably the hardest part of the whole thing is figuring out the geometry for the piping and even that is not too difficult because you don’t have to be very exact. The connection between the gas lines and the appliance is done with a flexible hose which makes the final placement of the gas stub out not very critical.
I kept the geometry of my piping as simple as possible. The whole system basically amounts to three sections of pipe, two right angles and a shut off valve.
Of course, like everything else inside my tiny house, the actual installation of the piping was a bit more challenging than it might have been in any other house just because everything is so compact inside my tiny house. I didn’t have a lot of room to work. I wanted a good way to securely support all the pipes, so I decided to install a 2 x 4 on the left side of my mechanicals cabinet to run the pipe up and through. Figuring out exactly how to cut that 2 x 4 so that it would fit in the space between the propane stove cabinet and the mechanicals cabinet and also go around all of the various water lines in that area was a little bit of a trick. I probably spent at least a few hours on just that piece, but finally got it all to come together.
After I got all the lines together, I hooked up a propane tank and a regulator to the gas lines exiting the house and tested for leaks two different ways. First, I spread a solution of 1 to 1 liquid soap and water on all of the fittings and turned on the gas to make sure there were no bubbles. I also purchased a $25 propane gas detector and waved that around near each one of the fittings to make sure no gas was detected. I kind of like the propane gas detector. When we were finally testing the stove yesterday, we simply left the propane detector on nearby the stove just in case it detected anything. In one case, it actually did detect gas and that was when I discovered that I had not completely tightened the connection between the flexible gas line for the shut off valve and the stub out.
The last thing I did yesterday was finally cut one of my two countertops to size. That was something I really did not want to screw up so I carefully measured several times before making any cuts. I cut the counter top to size and then I cut a hole for the propane stove to fit into. I started all the cuts with a circular saw plunge cut and finished the corners with a jig saw. I was perhaps just a little bit too exact about the hole for the stove because I had to re-cut the edges a couple of times to finally make the opening big enough for the stove to fit. But eventually, I got it and at least the final hole wasn’t too big. After that, I was able to prop the counter top in place, insert the stove, connect the flexible gas line and actually light the stove. Seeing the counter top in place for the with the propane stove installed end getting my propane stove to light was probably the most rewarding part of my whole weekend.
Today’s Tiny Epiphanies:
If you are cutting laminate counter tops like the one I bought from IKEA, you should do it with the nice surface of the counter top facing up. Otherwise, you are likely to create splinters and chipping of the surface. I ended up with a little bit of that, but luckily, the stove surface ended up covering up those imperfections.