Gas Stove Smell - advice please
- stellamystar Oct 5, 2009 07:18 PM
We own a 10 year old Viking 4 burner range. Love it. With one exception.
It has a gassy odor sometimes, esp. when it's cold outside. Our house is from 1930. We had to rerun the gas line to the stove from the basement when we got the Viking (we bought the Viking from an old lady who died).
The odor is only by the stove, nowhere else in the house. The gas guy came out and did some readings and he did discover a small leak in our floor board which we had fixed ASAP.
The stove odor comes and goes. Sometimes, I think I knock a knob or something...
I should also say the gas smell isn't pure natural gas smell - as if you just lit a gas grill or smelled your burner. It's kind of sulphery, grody.
I've asked other friends and they say it kinda of smells like gas. When the gas is ON (when I cook, no smell exists!).
Thoughts? Hubby thinks I'm insane, but I think he doesn't want to deal with this.
I think you need to call Viking. I should think they could offer you guidance. Since you acquired your stove used, perhaps it needs a maintenance check. After the leak in the floor board was fixed, did the gas guy return to check it out? Do you have a CO2 detector set up the proper distance from the stove? If you do, and it's not going off, that's a good sign. This is definitely not something to ignore.
We have a carbon monox detector in the kitchen - just bought new one on Sunday, in fact. Is that what you mean? No, it has not gone off.
The gas guy came back to check the floor and it was fine. He checked the stove and kind of said it was not too bad - but, if you can smell it, wouldn't that be bad? Sheesh
Good idea for a tune up. We got such a deal on the Viking..might as well. eee gad.
Thanks for the thoughts..
Be safe, not sorry. Get the gas company or a trusted plumber in to check it out, especially when it's cold. However, if it isn't a natural gas smell, there's the possibility you're psyching yourself into THINKING you're smelling it. That can be a powerful persuader. When I was dealing with a (darling, adorable, blamelessly ill) cat who had peed in the house twice, I was finding myself "smelling" cat pee everywhere.
I'd try two CO2 detectors at the proper distance. If both give you the A-OK, let it go. Easier said than done, says the borderline-OCD sufferer.
This is an inexpert answer....
A certified gas technician can answer one part of the question with a pressure test. This involves closing the supply valve and pressurising the system beyond normal and then seeing if any gas is escaping by monitoring the pressure in the pipes. This should be done by a qualified person so as not to cause any equipment to be damaged by over-pressure.
You can also spread a soap solution on joints and pipes to see if bubbles form. Much better to go for the pressure test.
You may have a minor leak elsewhere - say the basement. Natural gas is lighter than air and will accumulate between the joists and escape through holes - possibly the one the pipe comes through. This explanation does not fit with the circumstances you outlined.
It is possible there is a leak between the valve (the knob) and the burner but then you would associate that leak with a single control. (ie not all the valves would fail at once)
If there is incomplete combustion then it may possible that gas is rising to the ceiling. (Natural gas is lighter than air) However, the flame from one burner would be noticeably different and once again you would associate the problem with a single burner. Also if you relocate a Carbon Monoxide detector to the kitchen this would pick up that incomplete combustion.
You also have gas released when you light the burners. One thing I am not sure of is what the density of the gas is that causes the smell. These are normally suplhurous / mercaptan additives. Natural gas has no smell - it is added by the gas company. I do not know if they 'separate' and the smell can linger. I have noticed a smell on more than one occasion in a cupboard underneath a cooktop but was unsure if it was gas / additives bleeding down underneath the burners and being trapped in the cupboard. Once again, this does not fit you circumstances as you have a range.
Natural gas needs to be about 5% of the atmosphere in a room for there to be a danger of explosion. To attain this level the room would stink and you would probably be able to hear it escaping. So there is no reason to worry about an explosion unless it is collecting somewhere.
Is it possible there is some other cause of the smell? Mercaptans can be produced naturally. This includes the onion family, skunks, eggs and bad breath due to some illnesses or drugs - maybe even overheated insulation in a piece of equipment. I have even heard that some Chinese drywall can cause a smell problem if you have renovations since Katrina.
This was just a brain dump. I would try and logically pin it down. If other people can smell it then it not just in your head. Just make sure it's not something like the tile cement, caulking or whatever. Oh, I forgot. When did it start?
Have you ever had the gas valves in your range replaced? Viking had some issues with the valves from that time frame. I would contact a local Viking repair tech as they can check for gas leaks on your range as well. If you need to replace one valve go ahead and replace them all with the newer generation valves as the cost lies with the service call and labor. The valves are not expensive and it's well worth replacing them all at once on a range that is ten years old.
UPDATE from OP:
As an update, the Viking Serviceman came to my house this morning to work on the stove. The culprit was...
A loose rubber "washer" that connects the screw to the gasket (he says). So he tightened all the screws which also assisted in the burners lighting properly. He said it is quite common.
When he left, NO GAS smell. Hoorah.
I am at work and looking fwd to going home to an odor-free home.
He also gave me a lengthy lecture on Viking ranges which was very interesting.
$90! Why did I wait so long?!?!?
If you have LP gas as fuel, a gas smell is noticeable as the tank runs out. I've found this to be very reliable. Kind of a warning that you are about to run out.
I'm not sure of the mechanism for this. Perhaps the odorant is more soluble in the liquid propane than the vapor and as the liquid phase dwindles more gets into the gas phase. Our stove has pilot lights and perhaps they burn inefficiently enough that enough goes unburned that it can be smelled.