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Question DetailsAsked on 4/15/2013

who do i call when i smell gas in my house?

The gas smell comes and go like a week apart. Last week it was in the morning. Today it was at 5pm. I am not sure if it was a sewr gas. What should i do? Please advise,

Thank you,
Minh

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2 Answers

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If you smell gas inside your home, call your local gas utility as soon as possible. They should be able to help determine the location of the leak and whose responsbility it is to fix it.

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Answered 7 years ago by JP

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If it is strong, leave the house without turn ANYTHING on or off - including light switches, alarm system, etc; and call the fire department.

If a weak intermittent smell, when you smell it try to sniff around and track it down. Sniff especially around gas water heater and furnace, range, and clothes dryer - even if they are electric, there is usually a gas stub-out installed at each in any house plumbed for gas. Also sniff around the fireplace if you have a gas fire-starter (there will be a little metal valve on the face of the hearth or side of the fireplace if it is) or gas fireplace, and sniff around the gas meter and gas pipes outside the house. Sometimes older meters vent occasionally and sporadically as the regulator spring gets weaker, and if so then you will smell gas at the air opening on the gas regulator (the 8-12 inch diameter disk-like thing attached off the side of the outdoor gas meter). Also, stand around till the furnace comes on and see if the smell occcurs when it first kicks on - if you have a blocked exhaust flue or a lot of dust in the furnace, it will sometimes back-draft upon firing up, and put out a few seconds of gas smell before the exhaust gas heats up enought to create a proper draft in the exhaust stack.

Your local gas company will come out (typically for free) with a sniffer meter and try to track it down for you, but if it is a short-lived smell you might have to sniff it down yourself while it is fresh. If that is the case then a device that turns on and off like the furnace or a garage direct-fired heater, or the outside meter, kare the more likely causes. If you have the gas company come or if you drop by their office, they should be able to give you a scratch-and-sniff sample of what the gas odorant smells like, so you can tell if you are smelling that or sewer gas.

Failing sniffing it down, and if you are sure it is coming from inside the house and is probably fuel gas smell, then a plumber could disconnect your gas pipe outside and run a pressure test on the line and soap bubble test each valve, to check for leaks.

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If it is sewer gas, it is most likely to occur right after flushing a toilet or other running of quantities of water, like full sink, dishwasher or clothes washer emptying. Check any floor drains you may have downstairs (typically in unused bathrooms, laundry room, center of bare concrete slabs, in the garage slab, etc) and pour a quart or more of water down each, and run water in any unused toilets, showers, tubs, sinks, etc. All sinks, tubs, toilets, etc have a U-shaped "trap" under them that retains a cup or two of water after the pipes drain out. This low spot, filled with water, prevents sewer gas from coming back up your pipes to the inside of the house. Unused drains evaporate in anything from a few months to a few years, and once they dry out they lose that water seal and then a short surge of sewer gas can be forced up them when a large slug of water comes down the sewer pipes. Depending on your sewer pipe configuration, a dry trap can also bleed a small amount of sewer gas continually.

One last possibility is a broken or plugged sewer vent pipe - there are one or more vent pipes that are connected to the sewer and come out through your roof - typically a bare black 1-1/2 or 2 inch ABS plastic pipe sticking up a foot or two above the roof, without any cap or cover. This vents sewer gas, and allows air in so when you flush or drain out a tub or sink the water in the U trap does not get sucked down by the outflowing water. If it breaks, then sewer gas can be released inside the house walls. If it is plugged, it can cause loss of the water in your traps, so gas then can come up through the drains. In some houses the vent pipe is fairly visible for much of its run (houses with unfinished basements and a central plumbing chase, especially) but in many it is embedded in walls all the way. A plumber can help in this situation, both in tracking down the pipe and in possibly running a camera down it from the roof to look for breaks or clogs. However, this would be your last resort, as you talking probably $500+ to trace and camera run the vent pipe. IF you are comfortable getting up on the roof, however, you could take a strong flashlight and shine it down each vent pipe (there may be several - at least 1 for every wing of the house with plumbing) to see if there is any obvious blockage like a birds nest, hornet nest, etc.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD




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