July 19, 2017

Do you smell that?

My nose isn’t the best in the business, but sometimes I can smell things that others can’t.  Or it’s just my imagination, so I sometimes need a second opinion.

Upon returning home from work last evening, as I stepped into the house, I smelled gas.  Our utilities here include natural gas for the stove, hot water heater, and furnace, so it’s infinitely possible that at any time there might be a whiff of excess gas from the pilots on the gas stove, or coming up from the basement where the hot water heater is.  But this was a little more distinct.  I asked my wife if she could smell it from the spot where I did, but she said she didn’t smell anything.  After having gone downstairs and sniffed around, as well as looking at the pilots on the stovetop, I dismissed it and went about my business for the remainder of the evening.

This morning, as I was getting the recycling and trash out, I smelled it again.  In a different part of the house.  One time would be unusual, twice begins to become a pattern.  I didn’t want the third time to be a rather nasty explosion, fire or something worse, so I decided to make a more detailed exploration of the possible places it might be coming from.  Good thing I did, too.

After going downstairs to check where the gas comes into the house and not finding anything amiss there, I checked the appliances that directly feed on the gas lines.  The furnace is deliberately shut off the for summer, so that wasn’t the problem.  I checked the line anyway, but nothing seemed amiss there.  Checked the hot water heater as well, but didn’t find anything there.  Went back upstairs and made a more thorough check of the stove, and there’s where I finally discovered the problem.  The night before I had checked the pilots for the cooktop, but missed the pilot for the oven/broiler.  For whatever reason, that pilot wasn’t lit.  I immediately shut off the gas to the stove and opened a window.  Also dug out the owner’s manual for the stove to be sure there wasn’t something that needed to be cleaned or attended to before relighting the pilot, but there didn’t seem to be anything in particular that I’d missed.  After about 30 minutes I turned on the gas and re-lit ALL the pilots, and I’ve not detected any other gas smells in the meantime.  Just goes to show that it’s good to not dismiss things that suggest there might be something wrong.  Don’t want there to be a very loud and expensive explosion in anyone’s future.