Natural Gas Furnace Producing a Whole Lotta Gas Smell
September 28, 2013 10:33 AM Subscribe
Last night around 5 in the morning, we woke up because it smelled like natural gas--hard. After determining it wasn't coming from the oven, I remembered groggily to check the maintenance closet in our hallway, which contains two water heaters--one for our apartment, one for the apartment next door--and the natural gas furnace that heats our apartment through vents. I think something is happening to our furnace that causes it to do this, but I don't know what; I managed to stop it, but I'm not sure how.
posted by stresstwig to home & garden (13 answers total)
The natural gas smell was much more intense in our hallway, and I ran into a downstairs neighbor who could smell it as well. As I moved downstairs, I definitely noticed that the smell lessened. We called our gas company and waited.
Last winter, I woke up to find the apartment very cold. I went out to check on the thermostat and found that my adjustments to the temperature weren't making it ca-chunk on or off, so I went out to our appliance closet and flipped the lightswitch-esque switch on the side of the furnace from its resting forward position, to back, to forward again. (As if I was turning a light off then on again.) When I did this, I could hear the furnace kick back in. This happened about three times over the course of a week last winter, and then I never thought about it again (a terrible idea in hindsight, I know).
Fast forward to last night: when we initially discovered it, I switched that switch in the same way I did in the winter, and then waited for the gas company's dudes to show up. By the time they got there, the gas smell had almost completely dissipated. One of the guys said he smelled it when he first came in, but not anymore--the guy with the meter never smelled it.
It seems clear to me that flipping that switch is what solved the problem. My problem is, I don't know what that switch actually does--I don't have the manual for the furnace. I'm hoping to get in touch with my building's maintenance team on Monday, but in order to help them, I'd like to figure out what exactly the problem is.
So my multi-part question:
1) What exactly is that switch doing when I flip it to off and then on? Is it some sort of pilot that's getting blown out? If so, shouldn't the gas be shutting off automatically?
2) If not, what the heck is producing/taking away the gas smell, and what can I tell my maintenance people?
P.S. the furnace is relatively new--installed two winters ago.
Thanks for any help.