Faint natural gas oder outside?

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We've been smelling a very faint gas order outside. It comes and goes so it is hard to locate. We don't smell it inside the house at all. We do have a gas furnace, water heater, dryer and fireplace. None of which is on when we smell the gas. Since it isn't a consistent oder I am not sure if the gas company will be able to locate where it is coming from. Is it possible to be smelling the unignited gas from a neighbors furnace? We seem to notice this oder the most during this time of year. It does make me nervous cause I am not sure if it is dangerous or how to find out what it is. Should we be concerned?
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Goldlexus wrote:

If there's a small leak, it could turn into a big leak.
Call the gas company. They have (I'm told) very sophisticated "sniffer" devices that can find the source. I think the sniffer device may be called 'Beagle,' but I'm not sure.
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Good idea. I was smelling the same type of thing. There was a crack and the gas was escaping. I got both water heater and furnace replaced. I knew they were in for changing anyway. Good thing they put the smell into the gas.
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wrote:

What he said. We had the same situation some years ago and it was a break in the main in the street in front of the house. I called and a guy came with the sniffer, checked inside, then outside and found it there.
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I agree with call the gas company. I had to do that one time but they didn't find anything. They told me some plants can give off an odor similar to the chemical in natural gas.
Olddog
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Goldlexus wrote:

Call the gas company NOW. They take gas leaks very seriously, and they'll send out a technician right away.
The technician will have the tools to track down the leak. You might be saving your neighbor's life--or yours.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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Since it's been this long, maybe call about 9 Am tomorrow. Anyhow, the gas company will want to know. If nothing else, they are losing salable product. They could be selling that natural gas, instead of leaking it out.
--
Christopher A. Young
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

Unless the leak is on the customer side of the meter...
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gas leaks can be very serious. near where I grew up, there was a high pressure gas transmission line that blew up, killed 6 people, changed the area forever.
a old neighbor had gas smell in his basement. but had no leaks hmself.
tracked to gas leaking from bottom of hill 1/2 mile away, getting into sewer line, gas is lighter than air so it went uphill, till it reached a small crack in sewer line, and got in his basement.
gas company will be happy to check for free, if its your line leaking you will have to pay for repairs which is way better than having a explosion and possible deaths
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I will call in the morning. At this point we are not smelling the odor at all. It is frustrating. It is so random. We smell it in the backyard mostly which is not where the gas meter is or the gas line we don't even have neighbors in the back of us just on each side. I am afraid it is going to be like taking your car into the mechanics for a noise but when at the mechanics the car doesn't make the noise but better safe than sorry I suppose.
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clipped

Did you call the gas company? Even if it isn't now detectable, I would call (actually, I would have called as soon as I did detect it). If no response, I would have checked with the fire department.
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Goldlexus wrote:

Probably nothing, but better safe than sorry. Gas company will use their electronic nose thing to scout out all the usual likely culprits. Within limits, they will be happy to come and check for free- cheap insurance for them. Any defective item, they will disconnect and red-tag. (repair/replacement is your problem.) This time of year, always a good idea to check all exterior vents (roof and walls) for bird nests, clumps of leaves, etc. Gas fireplaces and outdoor grills are a common leak location, if the shutoff valve is getting sloppy. Even when you aren't using your gas appliances, the gas is still running to them. Older appliances have a pilot light, which usually burns off any minor leakage, but newer ones with electronic igniters may leak a little if the valve thingy is dirty or broken.
BTW, what you smell isn't the gas- that is odorless. You are smelling mercaptan (sp?), the stuff they add to make it stink, so you will notice leaks.
Or, it could just be a backed-up sewer line, coming up through a vent stack....
-- aem sends...
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If you smell gas there may be a leak but dont bet on the gas co finding it, or even realy caring. 3 times at different locations I have had the gas co give up on first trys to find small leaks, I had to get them back out to eventualy locate them, My nose is more sensitive than their eletronic sniffers, I have alot of plants and never smelled one that smelled like Mercaptin. A septic and sewer can smell similar. This time of year in many areas presure is boosted by the gas co, they do it evey fall across the street from me. This could leak more gas before the ground freezes and you are inside all winter. Walk around when no wind and try to find the strongest area of smell for them to look, I hope it not under a nice tree.
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ransley wrote:

The newer hand held detectors have sensitivity that would only be available in a lab in the past and can literally sense a few molecules of gas.
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In hard to find cases, many gas companies are now using GasFind IR FLIR equipment to locate leaks. You can literally see a leak with this stuff. We use them at the plants to check for leaks.
wrote:

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had a home explode, totally leveled, when i was groing up. several streets away, had debris in our yard.
it may be nothing but it could be critical.
not long ago in pittsburgh a cable crew hit a gas line, and left the area never reported it to anyone,.
a couple hours later a family came home, and detonated their home.
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Goldlexus wrote:

Plenty of other good posts. As said already: Do call the gas company. I have an interesting story. Same deal - faint odor. Called gas company. Quick response. Had a sniffer. No luck finding a leak in the house or at the meter area. Tech sees a pipe going into the ground. "What's that for?" "Goes to the gas grill over there" Tech takes a cigarette lighter and ignites the the leak at ground level where the pipe had rusted out!! We capped the pipe.
Lou
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LouB wrote:

ummm... that's kind of scary. what if the gas pressure had dropped off while he was doing his thing with the lighter?
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

The flame would go out?
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Worse, is when the pressure comes back, and the burning gas is still burning.
Anyhow, capping the line to the gas grill is one option. Replace the rusted section of pipe is another option.
--
Christopher A. Young
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