The Golden Door(r) Spa, one of the largest and most luxurious facilities of its kind in North America, offers a wide assortment of amenities to attract visitors from around the world. Many of these amenities, including a swimming pool and spa, decorative fireplaces, and cooking appliances, operate in conjunction with gas-fired heating equipment whose fuel requirements are supplied by roughly 1,500 linear ft of corrugated stainless steel tube (CSST) furnished by the Gastite Division of the Titeflex Corporation (Springfield, MA).

Owned by Wyndham Hotels and part of The Boulders Resort complex in Carefree, AZ, just outside of Phoenix, the Golden Door Spa opened in October 2001, following 10 months of construction. Although CSST was not originally specified for this prestigious project, the material ultimately played a valuable role in reducing installation time and overall costs. Contractor Jeff Silverberg of JBS Plumbing Inc. (Phoenix) says that flexible gas tubing saved his crew two full weeks of installation work, allowing his labor force to pursue other aspects of the job.

"The flexibility of CSST enabled us to maneuver the tubing through the available space at the Golden Spa in a lot less time and with a lot fewer problems than if we were cutting, welding, and threading metal pipe."

Twists and turns

The project engineer initially designed the gas distribution system for the Golden Door Spa to use 4- and 5-in. black-iron pipe. As with so many commercial projects, the gas lines must run above the ceilings throughout the facility. That meant the pipe had to be maneuvered around skylights, lighting-fixture connections, a/c ductwork, and assorted other obstructions in the attic. Twisting and turning the metal pipe through these spaces would necessarily entail huge amounts of time-consuming and expensive pipe fabrication, Silverberg quickly realized.

"My machines cut up to 2-in. pipe only, so I would have needed to find larger machines. Plus, I would've had to send the pipe out to another fabricator for special threading for the 4-in. branches." Of course, the 5-in. pipe had to be welded, involving an additional hefty investment in manpower and equipment.

So Silverberg approached local Gastite sales representative Earl Brockert of Southwest Sales Reps Arizona (Gilbert, AZ) to help him recast the gas-distribution portion of the job. Together, they persuaded the engineer to switch his specification to CSST. They also worked with the local utility, Black Mountain Gas, to boost the pressure into the building from roughly 2 lb/psi to 5 lb/psi, permitting a substantial downsizing of the diameter - and the cost - of the CSST.

Instead of a single, 5-in. metal line, as specified by the original plans, the project was fitted with three CSST lines, including a 1- .50 in. run feeding a manifold in the boiler mechanical room and a 1-.25-in. line feeding a second manifold in the pool heater room - both at 5 psi. The third line, .75 in. in diameter, delivers gas to the kitchen manifold at 2 psi, to accommodate the appliances there.

Collectively, the trio of lines supply gas to approximately 20 gas-fired appliances throughout the Golden Door Spa operation, including five decorative fireplaces; two boilers for hot water heating; separate heaters for the spa and the swimming pool; several clothes dryers; and ranges, fryers, and other cooking equipment in the kitchen.

Safety and savings

All in all, the use of flexible gas tubing made the labor aspect of the project far more manageable and cost effective, says Silverberg. Instead of deploying four men to cut and weld metal pipe for three weeks, he needed only two working a single week with the CSST.

"I'm a firm believer in CSST because of the labor savings," remarks Silverberg, who has also used the material on a 420-unit condominium project in nearby Scottsdale. Here again, the project required the gas lines to run overhead in the ceilings, dodging and darting through various construction and mechanical obstacles. "The labor could have been quite intensive there, too," he said - if not for the use of flexible gas tubing.

But Silverberg points to another, equally important factor for using CSST on large commercial and multifamily residential work: the peace of mind that he derives from never having to worry whether the system will leak, thus creating costly callbacks and safety problems.

"If you use the proper accessories to protect the tube from nails and other potential puncture points, you should not have a problem," says Silverberg, whose men received their installation certification training from Earl Brockert through local Gastite distributor Farnsworth Wholesale Supply. "Between the two jobs, we have installed roughly 6,000 ft of Gastite product, and we've yet to experience our first leak or our first callback. That's as big a cost saver as any."ES