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I smell gas

Posted by Rona Fischman June 8, 2012 01:51 PM

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I canít get away from learning things about houses. I had the long Memorial Day weekend off. But, it was punctuated by a Sunday morning emergency in my house.

I went to the basement to put something away and smelled gas. I called NStar and the dispatcher made me a little paranoid. She said we had to leave the house. Donít turn on any lights, donít hang up the phone, donít open or close any doors or windows. I had to knock on my tenantís door (since I couldnít use the doorbell.) Then we waited for the NStar repair guy. The NStar guy came rather quickly!

Recently, NStar replaced gas lines on our street, including the one to our house. He found the source and fixed it. One of the new fittings was leaking. Then he said that I had some other little leaks. He sealed them for me, but I need to look into them.

He said that I had old fittings to my tenantís gas dryer and gas hot water heater. These fittings will dry out over time and leak. He also said they were the wrong metal, so they were not earthquake-proof. I should have a plumber look at these and replace them.

I looked around on line. In California, they have rules about gas fittings. That is a good thing, since it would be very unfortunate if San Francisco burned down again. I am not generally afraid that my house is not earthquake proof. I am going to have a plumber in, just because I am a nervous sort when it comes to natural gas.

Has anyone heard of this problem with gas fittings and earthquakes before? Has anyone heard of gas fittings drying out (I think he meant a lubricant in the joint) and causing micro-leaks?

The NStar guy was very nice and very responsive to our problem. He said that the additive to natural gas, mercaptan, is very smelly, so there is a lot of smell even when there is a tiny leak. ďI havenít lost one yet,Ē he said about his repair work.

Whatís your experience with natural gas? Do you think it is basically safe or do you fear that rotten egg smell means the house is going to blow up?

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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