Is it normal to smell natural gas near water heater?



Did you call the gas company? There were a few people who suggested it and it really is a good recommendation.
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peter wrote:

That eliminates what I was thinking of. I suggest that you call the manufacturer or your local gas company. I would consider it a hazard.
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Joseph Meehan

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I found the problem. There are two gas tubes coming out of the temperature control box, a big one supplies the burner, and a small one supplies the pilot light:
http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/990857/1/82458064
The installer did not use any joint compound on these tube fittings, so they leak a little. Instead, he overtightened the large nut, but that still doesn't work.
I bought some joint compound from HD (says ok to use on gas pipe) and put them in the threads. That's the white stuff you see in the threads. This eliminates almost all the gas odor. I no longer smell gas when standing next to the water heater. I still smell a faint odor at the bottom of the control box.
I think a little bit of gas is leaking out between the nut and the tubes. How do you seal this? Yes, I know I can call the gas company, or call the installer to fix it. That would be the last resort. I want to learn something in the process if I could.
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peter wrote:

...
...
Then you need to replace the fittings--joint compound is for _threaded_ pipe fittings where the threads make the seal, _not_ for tubing fittings. In a tubing fitting (or a pipe union, as well) the seal is the mating between the taper and the sleeve _not_ the threads at all.
Sounds like they tried to reuse an old fitting that has either corroded enough to no longer have a precise matching or, in trying to make that connection, overtightned and likely crushed the ferule.
The real solution is to replace the fittings if you have sufficient length to get a fresh tubing end or the tubing and fittings if not.
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peter wrote:

I installed a new gas waterheater and for weeks later kept getting a faint smell of gas odor. Rechecked my connections and they were tight. Finally checked the internal connections and found a loose one - came that way from the factory. Tightened it and never smelled gas again.
Bob
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Your question is pretty dangerous, remember that this is a public forum and therefore we can't tell what your situation and what your intelligence level really is, so a question involving highly flammable gas typically is answered very conservatively.
As to whether it is normal or not, it can yes. I have spoken with people who do home calls and people who do training for PSE (Puget Sound Energy) and on certain gas water heaters it is normal to smell gas around the burner control knob. But your circle doesn't indicate that location so in my mind you should perhaps ask your gas supplier if they can verify the installation for you. It's what I did when I smelled gas in and around my gas control box. No reason to risk sending your water heater into low orbit.
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On Wed, 12 Nov 2014 01:44:02 +0000, Daniel

OK - what you are smelling is the odorant Ethyl Mercaptan which is added to natural gas to make it detectable. Somehow the mercaptan is being released into the air - with or without the gas. My suspicion is some has "settled out" of the gas at the pilot. Only a fraction of a small drop will be detectable by a sensitive schnozz.
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On 11/11/2014 8:24 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I've had gas co out numerous times as the mercaptan smell is noticeable. To date they've never been able to set off their high-priced, presumable sensitive(???) detectors at any location.
I've become convinced by characteristics it's a remnant of the odorant having been left after repair/replacement when piping has been open. It's noticeably stronger in the well house if get a little water on the floor near where the heater sits which I replaced the old "wild" pilot valve on a couple of years ago with one of them newfangled, gee-whiz thermocouple-countrolled doo-jobbie ones a couple of years ago.
I've not gotten one of the n-gas wall monitors thinking the likelihood of them being sensitive enough to help if the gas company can't find it with a portable going around all the piping and end devices was likely near zero.
It is disconcerting on occasion, however, 'cuz one wonders for absolute certain whether it's just getting missed or what...
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Odorant can fool you.
I worked at a place out in the country that had a small motel for new emplo yees until they found a place. There were maybe a dozen rooms. The place smelled so strong of gas I wouldn't have walked near it. Their claim was t hat it was normal. The odorant addition machine only came in one size, and so they had a large unit for that tiny motel. With that much odorant bein g added it was bound to smell.
In hindsight, they were probably lying, but we all did survive. And move o ut quickly.
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On 11/12/2014 3:15 PM, TimR wrote:

This is a farm residence/homestead; the pot is at the tap off the pipeline at the meter location some quarter-mile from the house...which brings up other stories that initially was un-metered tap for farm/house use as part of the right-of-way easement grandfather negotiated in the 30's when they built the line. Some 30 yr ago now, the original pipeline company was acquired by another and they somehow found an escape hatch that state corporation commission backed them up on to break all those existing agreements. I've been extremely surprised they haven't come around trying to pull the tap entirely in order to get rid of the hassle of these scattered residential taps all over the county...
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Who would have a natural gas detector in their house?
I don't and don't know anyone who does.
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On 11/12/2014 10:31 AM, terrable wrote:

Some campers and RV have a LP detector near the floor. But NG detector in a home? Not heard of such.
When I did HVAC, I used to have a gas beeper for use on the job, but that's not the typical HO situation.
- . Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
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On 11/12/2014 10:41 AM, Stormin Mormon wrote:

Excellent point!
Given that propane is heavier than air, having a *small* propane leak in a house with a basement or below grade crawl space is an explosion waiting to happen. A *small* propane leak is probably less dangerous in an above grade slab house.
Given that natural gas is lighter than air, a *small* natural gas leak seems far less dangerous.
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terrable wrote:

Hi, I do, NG, CO, flame, smoke detectors, why not? I even had them in my fiver when I had it. Any thing wrong having them?
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wrote:

You lead a sheltered life. They are readily available from Home Centers. You can get a combo flammable gas and carbon monoxide detector. For that price, why would you NOT have one if you have gas? (I don't have gas so I don't)
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Kidde-Plug-In-Combination-Explosive-Gas-Carbon-Monoxide-Alarm-Detector-with-Battery-Back-up-KN-COEG-3/100003545
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No "safe amount" of any explosive gas can be detected by human nose. Our noses have not been trained to discriminate between safe and unsafe odours. This is why gas companies ask people to notify them if they ever smell gas.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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On 11/12/2014 3:46 PM, Don Phillipson wrote:

Natural gas has no detectable odor at all -- it's only the mercaptan oderant added that can be detected by the nose. It's so strong simply so that a tiny amount is detectable by almost everybody (albeit I can often not notice the trace amounts spoken of above when some others claim it smells strongly of it to them; my sniffer ain't so hot as some I gather).
The measurement devices used by the gas co aren't "smelling", they're using active sensing to detect the actual methane/propane/whatever...
--


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On Wed, 12 Nov 2014 10:41:00 -0500, Stormin Mormon

Why is it worse when a camper goes boom than when a home does?

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On 11/12/2014 8:14 PM, micky wrote:

Campers usually lighter weight material, they burn down FAST. Of couese, now days homes go down fast, also. per goes boom than when a home does?

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I have CO and smoke detectors, but wrt NG and flame, I say, Bring it on!

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