Is it normal to smell natural gas near water heater?

When I stand right next to the water heater, I smell a little bit of gas at certain height. If I move to 1 foot away, I no longer can smell it.
See this photo: http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/990857 The red ellipse shows where I smell the gas. I smell some at lower spots, but it's not continuous, meaning when I go lower, I don't smell it, then I smell it, ...
I assume it has been like this during the last year, and there is no cumulation of natural gas (like I said, only can smell it within a foot). So I wonder, is it normal for a water heater with pilot light to emit some natural gas odor, or should I try to seal all the pipe joints?
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peter wrote:

How long has the water heater been there? Was it a replacement or a new install?
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Your fire dept and gas company will check it out free, it could be Co from a poor draft, blocked flue, There are Co-Ng detectors for about 40$ at HD, get it checked out by a pro you obviously dont have your equipment serviced or cleaned regularly and you should.
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m Ransley wrote:

No, it;s not normal to smell any gas near a water heater. It needs to be checked out. You can start checking yourself by applying some soapy water with a brush to the pipe joints. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles. It's most likely the problem is before the combustion occurs, not the exhaust, because the combustion products are odorless.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I have a followup question to this answer - unrelated to water heaters, but sort of on topic - is there a "safe" amount of natural gas to smell? Reason: I can smell natural gas near my meter, but only when I put my nose right near the pipes. Anywhere else along the ground around the meter I can't smell it - and I can't smell it on any of the pipes in my house that I could reach (my neighbors probably think I've lost my mind). I've had the gas company out several times, each time they told me they could smell it too (with their nose up next to the pipe), but said that they couldn't find a leak. I watched the last guy who came out and he soaped up the entire pipe & meter and found nothing. None of them has given me a good reason why this is occurring.
Thanks Doug
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Any time the gas does not explode could be considered safe in a loose sense of the term.
The odorant that is put into gas can leave a residue over time. I've sniffed pipes and fittings removed from gas service and months later and could detect an odor. If their equipment does not detect any gas, it is probably safe and the leak may be gone, but the residue remains. So, you are not smelling gas necessarily, but the odorant. Natural gas has no odor.
You did the right thing having it checked.
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replying to Edwin Pawlowski, Matt.t wrote: Can this residue being "clogged" in one spot or connection become a problem over time? As of now the gas gets to where it has to go. This is on a newly installed gas water heater.
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On Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 3:14:10 PM UTC-5, Matt.t wrote:

Bad connection. Get your local gas company or plumber out there to repair it.
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On Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 4:14:10 PM UTC-4, Matt.t wrote:

em

ly

This what? You revived a ten year old thread and don't explain what your p roblem is. If you're smelling a slight whiff of gas at a water heater, I w ould mix up some soapy water and apply it at all connections, look for bubb les. If it's more than a slight whiff and/or you don't know what you're doi ng, shut it off and call the installer.
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replying to delphiprog, Daniel wrote:

I have exactly the same issue before or after replacing my water heater. I always smell a waft of gas at a certain height near the pilot fire chamber. All tests prove negative, but the smell still haunts or hovers around that spot from time to time, giving me an eerie sense that gas is oozing out from some tiny leaks.
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Daniel wrote:

Hi, No gas detector in the house?
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replying to Daniel, Blauengel wrote: Me too!! I panicked and called the gas company out yesterday and they couldn't find anything with their little machine doohickey but I can still smell it and it's freaking me out!
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If you smell it, it is there. Get out and get another opinion. 911.
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wrote:

Natural gas is odorless. The mercapitan smell may persist for a LONG time after, with no trace of natural gas.
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On 5/3/2017 8:18 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I once heard that a single drop of mercaptan used in a football stadium with 80,000 fans can be smelled by all present.
I had a friend using these in plant lab where he worked and a neighbor 2 miles from the plant could smell it and asked if he was using mercaptans in the lab on those days.
You still want to make sure there is no gas leak but it is hard to keep that odor down. Mercaptans can be detected by smell at levels less than 1 part per billion.
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On 05/03/2017 03:14 PM, Blauengel wrote:

You have replied to an 11 year old post!
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replying to philo, Tommy K wrote: this 11 year post is giving me good info
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On 5/3/2017 11:15 PM, philo wrote:

The odor must still remain;)
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On Wed, 12 Jul 2006 06:01:55 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

I'm not saying this case is the same, but a few weeks ago, someone died in a motel in Ocean City, Md. Apparently it was CO. About a week ago, someone announced that it was because of "a missing pipe" from a gas water heater. The motel said it moved the water heater outside. It gets pretty cold some of the time in Ocean City, and I don't think anyone else keeps their water heater outside, but they have to do something to make people feel their motel is safe.
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It is a replacement water heater installed about 1 year ago. If I turn off the gas valve on the water heater itself, then the smell is gone.
Then I turn it to the pilot lighting setting and lit the pilot. Immediately after this I stuck my nose near the control box (where the valve, lighting button, and the temperature control is mounted) and smell gas.
I think it's safe (dangerous?) to say the leak comes from that control box. And it's only 1 year old. The water heater is made by state industries (http://www.stateind.com /).
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