How can I tell if my stove is slowly leaking gas?
December 13, 2004 9:48 PM   Subscribe

This evening, I installed the 1963 Kenmore Griddletop I'd purchased a few weeks ago into my kitchen. At the re-sell shop where it was purchased, I was shownthat all the burners worked, that there were no leaks (some sort of geiger counter). At any rate, I suddenly have a weird sort of sore throat, and I'm wondering if the damn thing isn't leaking. So: first, how do I determine if it's leaking, and two, what are the signs of low-level natural gas poisoning?
(I *did* shut off the gas valve and have range hood fan going, just in case)
posted by notsnot to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
If the gas is leaking in any sort of volume sufficient to create physical symptoms, you should totally be able to smell it.
posted by jjg at 9:51 PM on December 13, 2004

Yeah, for saftey purposes, natural gas has a very distinct odor of very rotten eggs at any ppm that's potentiall hazardous.
posted by SpecialK at 9:54 PM on December 13, 2004

So your local zoning / building laws allow you to install your own gas stove? That's just crazy.

I'd call a professional and get them to use their magic detection devices to detect any leaks.

BTW, it's possible that if it's not fully vented or if it's incompletely burning that you could be getting a carbon monoxide buildup, which would be odorless and colorless.
posted by bshort at 10:02 PM on December 13, 2004

bshort: So your local zoning/building laws allow you to put gasoline in your car, 'eh? That's just crazy.

Although you do have a good point about the carbon monoxide. I would go and get a carbon monoxide detector.
posted by SpecialK at 10:19 PM on December 13, 2004

One quick check you can do, to find leaks in any visible/reachable piping: brush a mixture of soapy water on the surface of the pipe (or whatever) that you suspect might have a leak. Leaks will cause bubbles.
posted by cortex at 10:23 PM on December 13, 2004

I'm afraid I don't know much about this. However, I did once overhear in a doctor's office a discussion about a patient who'd been diagnosed with "petroleum poisoning" and the source turned out to be her gas-fueled fire place (touch a button, instant fire; I remember seeing a few of these during the eighties).

My impression was that the woman had been to multiple mainstream doctors with her mystery ailment, gotten nowhere, and finally turned to this non-mainstream, very alternativey doctor who, finally, correctly diagnosed the problem. Which leads me to believe that if you seek info on or treatment for low level natural gas exposure, you may only find it in alternative-medicine-land, a place that some would rather not go. And if you do choose to go there, of course, you may get flack from your doctor, your family, and/or your friends. In any case... best of luck.
posted by Clay201 at 10:24 PM on December 13, 2004

Cortex: With a stove that old, my bet is that it would be in the valving rather than on the pipes or installation, but notsnot, cortex is right that it wouldn't be bad to check.
posted by SpecialK at 10:36 PM on December 13, 2004

So your local zoning/building laws allow you to put gasoline in your car, 'eh?

Actually, not in Jersey, they don't.

Besides, installing a gas stove incorrectly in a home, especially in a shared structure, can endanger others. I used to install furnaces for a living and I actually know something about this.
posted by bshort at 10:36 PM on December 13, 2004

I'm well-versed in the installation of gas pipes, and finding leaks in said pipes. The lines from the old end-of-the-line to the stove (up to the shutoff valve before the flex-line) have been in place for a couple days with no leaks. There's no pilots for the broiler nor the oven, only for the top burners - and they burned clean. That's why I'm so damn confused.
posted by notsnot at 10:41 PM on December 13, 2004

I had a gas leak. A friendly gas leak man came by with a detector and found it for me. He was prompt about showing up too, because they don't want you to blow up your building.
posted by iamck at 10:53 PM on December 13, 2004

Carbon Dioxide leaks can be deadly and since they are odorless you should be especially careful about them. Get a detector at a local hardware store as soon as possible.
posted by pwb503 at 12:17 AM on December 14, 2004

Actually, not in Jersey, they don't.
They don't here in Oregon, either. I think it's rediculous. Of course, looking at it the other way, my dad and I have also installed several gas heaters and stoves. The argument, and this was borne out by some very stupid people and made law by an excess of uneducated labor in the 70's, was that by filling your car with gas incorrectly you could blow up yourself, your car, the neigbourhood the gas station was in, and the underground storage tanks. Much worse than installing a furnace poorly and torching your home.
So, careful when you make an argument of "they let you do what?!" when there are things that are supposedly just as dangerous...

pwb: Don't you mean carbon monoxide? The hot air flowing out of my heade is a *major* carbon dioxide leak, but I'm not dead yet...

Notsnot, call the gas company and have them send someone out if you're really worried, but my guess is that it's nerves or a december cold more than anything else. (But post and let us know if you got it tested and if you died in your sleep or not. ;) )
posted by SpecialK at 1:41 AM on December 14, 2004

Not that this is entirely what you were asking but you will most likely know when you have carbon monixide poisoning. When I had it, thanks to a malfunctioning furnace, I had the worst headache I've ever had and woke up practically puking two days running. When I went to the doc, they instantly pegged it because one of the questions they ask is literally "Do you have the worst headache you've ever had?" I turned off the furnace, and the headache went away.
posted by jessamyn at 4:26 AM on December 14, 2004

I think it was just nerves - I'm alive this morning (tho, I *did* turn off the gas). The coincidental timing of the sore throat weirded me out. I'll have the gas company come by after work. Thanks!
posted by notsnot at 5:26 AM on December 14, 2004

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