gas smell from a plastic vent connected to the gas meter

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Today, while my kid was playing outside. He noticed a little bit of gas smell coming out of a little plastic pipe/vent connected to the gas meter. On top of the plastic thing, it labels "gas vent". It has a metal screen inside.
What is this "gas vent" for? Is it normal for it to have some gas smell?
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Normally we don't answer homeowners questions here, but this could end up being very serious.
No, gas should be coming out of that vent, and if it is you need to call, depending on your area, the gas company or their certified repair people.
You didn't mention if this was natural gas or propane. You call it a 'meter' but you may be mistaking it for a regulator. If you have propane I suggest you make the call tonight and possibly shut your supply valve off at the propane tank. If its natural gas still make the call and get a competent answer from those mentioned above.
Got to go, work to do;
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Thanks for your answer.
We have natural gas. I just took a look. The vent is actually on top of the meter and connected to a circular piece of metal.
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That circular piece of metal is the regulator. It drops the natural gas pressure down from the higher distribuation pressure in the street (several psi?) to the lower pressure in your house (typically 0.25 psi). All regulators have a vent like you describe, but I don't know whether it is normal or not for natural gas to be discharged from it.
Cheers, Wayne
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Mike wrote:

Why take chance and bother? Just call your gas company. The regulator maybe leaking. Tony
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On Wed, 30 Nov 2005 20:18:08 -0500, "Geoman1" <Geo1> wrote:

Its rather normal. The valve is a diaphram. It relieves pressure on the meter so it can open and close smoothly. You may get a small puff or smell each time the meter starts and stops. If it is a concern, call your local utility to have them check it out. Bubba
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The regulator has no influence on the meter other than to supply gas to it at a lower pressure than supplied by the main, similar to an electrical transformer. The vent allows atmospheric pressure to enter one side of the regulator diaphragm so the regulator can supply gas to the house at a fixed pressure above the atmosphere air pressure. NO GAS SHOULD LEAK FROM THIS VENT. Leaking gas means the diaphragm has a pinhole puncture in it and should be replaced. CALL YOUR LOCAL UTILITY and they will fix it, most likely replace the entire meter/regulator set. I used to work for a gas utility for 40 years before I retired. Call them right away.

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Do call your utility company. While I doubt if it is going to be a problem, it is still a safety concern and you should have it checked, if it would turn out to be a safety concern and you don't check ..... Not good.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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The vent is open to the space above the pressure sensing diaphram. The other side of the diaphram is connected to the discharge side of the regulator. Thus one side of the diaphram senses gas pressure and the other side senses atmospheric pressure, allowing the regulator to control gas pressure referenced to atmospheric pressure. Normal house gas pressure is 1/3 to 1/2 PSI above atmospheric pressure. Normally, the vent allows the diaphragm to flex, letting air flow in and out of the regulator body above the diaphram, controlling the pressure as the gas flow through the regulator changes. If the diaphram cracks, tears or ruptures, gas is vented to the outside, which is not a good thing, but better than having it vent inside your house.
Call the gas company as the ONLY time anything should come out of that port is when the load changes which would only take a moment. This hapens when the furnace or water heater comes on or shuts off. At those times air will be flowing in or out but only in very small amounts.
NOTE that when you put your noe right next to the vent, there will be a SLIGHT gas smell as minute amounts of gas diffuse through the diaphram, but not enough to make any smell more than a couple of inches away from the vent opening, and certainly not enough to cause any flow.
Stretch
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Thanks.
I called my gas company. The technican came used a digital gas meter to measure the amount of gas at the vent openning. The reading fluctuated between 0 and 0.05. I don't know what the unit is. The technican said "it's practically nothing" and don't worry. As I smell now, I can only smell gas when I put my nose next to the vent. But if I move away a few inches, I don't smell. (based on what Stretch said this is normal)
Maybe what my kid smelt (which was a little further) was because of the load changes.
Stretch's "NOTE" makes me feel much better. But some of the responses said that there shouldn't be ANY gas out of that vent. So I am still a bit concerned.
Do you guys think it's okay to trust what the technican said?
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Actually, the technican used is probably a gas detector not a meter.
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That would be "parts per million", I think it should be well within safety measures. Sometimes the mercapan odor they add to the gas can permeate everything that contacts the gas and creates the smell that the nose can recognize. I would keep check on it, as the reading did fluctuate and if something is leaking as the load changes, it may leak more at a later time.

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wrote:

Just curious, what is mercapan? Yes, I know it's the odorant in the gas, but what I am asking, WHAT IS THIS SUBSTANCE?
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It's methyl mercaptan, CH3SH, i.e. it is like methanol (CH3OH) with the oxygen atom replaced by a sulphur atom. For more information, try <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methyl_mercaptan>.
Cheers, Wayne
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

You could Google it or simply use a dictionary if it were spelled correctly "mercaptan." Mercaptan is the general name for organic substances with a sulfur atom attached. Probably use ethyl mercaptan in natural gas.
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Well, that small of amount isn't a problem at this moment. However, any job I'm on that has any leaking diaphram no matter how small will be changed out or red tagged.
Its ridiculous to say that a leak on any gas control is 'normal'. That regulator is on the utility side and they pay for the leak, do you think they believe its 'normal' to have hundreds of millions of these across the country to be 'normally' leaking? Besides, its just wrong to believe that they are suppose to leak. Proof is the testing of the lines etc. The utility performs a leak check and if there are any leaks it aint getting started. Also, how did this tech determine that it isn't a small crack developing in the diaphram that may eventually get bigger?
I'm satisfied that you called the gas company, and he told you the reading, mark it down somewhere like on the furnace service lable. Then if it starts to smell stronger call them again and see if the PPM's went up. I don't think your going to have a big 'rupture' since the tech looked at it, but I personally would have demanded a new regulator installed or threaten to call someone higher up the ladder. The other side of that regulator may have over 5 pounds of pressure, thats a lot of gas that can purge if the diaphram does break.

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Call your homeowner's insurance company and ask them if they are concerned about the leak. Then call your mortgage company and ask them if they are concerned about the leak.
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I see my last reply came late. I did not see the whole thread at first.
If the guy is from the hgas company, I am sure they know what they are doing. I should mention that natural gas has no odor. What you smell is added to the gas so that people know if gas is leaking. That odorant tends to cling. You said he noticed a very slight leakage. Well, that odor stays in the pipes. It's not gas, just the odor. I have worked on natural gas pipes and when I completed the job, there were left over used pipes. I always save things like that, because thye are still useful. But months later that gas odor is still noticable in those pipes that have been just standing in my garage in open air.
I'd say you are fine !!!
Mark
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On Fri, 02 Dec 2005 01:37:58 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Never assume that! I found a meter inside a home leaking 2 wks ago. I was there on a clean and check on 2 furnaces in the home. As soon as the customer opened the front door I could smell it. No big leak. I can just smell gas leaks very easily. Went and got my electronic and some bubbles. Found it at the bottom of the meter dial cover in the basement. Bubbles coming out at a slow steady rate. Called the gas company. He came while I was still there. He had a digital and bubbles. He found the same leaks and said, "Ah, thats nothing. This is an outside meter (but it was IN the home) and they will leak a small amount like that. Nothing to worry about". What the F(*$ !! I wasnt about to argue. I let him go. Called again. They sent out another guy. This one I knew. He came in, found the leak and said, "Yup, it leaks and needs to be changed. I'll be right back". He said the other guy was just stupid or lazy. He changed it and all is well now. Bubba

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On Thu, 01 Dec 2005 11:15:52 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

I agree. I do believe those vents are intended to release a little pressure once and awhile, but why take chances. This belongs to your gas company and there should not be a charge for checking it. If there is a leak, you could have a dangerous situation, AND be paying for gas that you are not using. Dont delay, call them now. They should be open 24/7. Please let us all know what they determine.
Mark
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