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Yellow steel tubing in houses poses fire risk if not properly installed

With severe weather season in full swing, fire officials want Minnesotans with homes built after 1989 to check for corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) - a flexible pipe that, if not properly installed, can be damaged by nearby lightning strikes and start a fire.

CSST supplies natural gas and propane in residential, commercial and industrial structures. It usually has a yellow exterior plastic coating and should not be confused with natural gas appliance flexible connectors. CSST typically is routed beneath, through or alongside floor joists in the basement, inside interior wall cavities and on top of ceiling joists in attics.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) investigators have discovered the tubing in southeastern Minnesota and say it is likely in homes statewide.

"This tubing is in Minnesota homes, but the problem can be solved," State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. "This is an electrical issue that can be fixed by a qualified and licensed professional."

The SFMD is spreading the word about CSST after discovering several cases nationwide where a nearby lightning strike created a power surge that damaged the gas tubing and caused a fire.

If you find CSST after inspecting your home or business, you should contact a licensed electrician to determine if the tubing is properly installed. As of 2010, about six million homes in the United States had CSST. Go to for more information.