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What to do when you have bad gas at an inspection!

     Well it is not as bad as elevators, but it is not unusual to smell gas at a home inspection.  Natural gas (as opposed to “un-natural” gas) has an odor added to the otherwise odorless gas that is not easy to ignore----like the other kind----“silent but deadly.” 

     It is designed that way. 

     When you smell it, you are supposed to know that you have a problem and do something about it----and I am not talking about asking someone to pull your finger, excuse yourself, leave the room or pull the covers over your sweetie’s head.

     Whenever you smell gas, you should call the gas utility (except the personal kind of course).  They are more than happy to come and figure out what is going on.  Now I am not talking about an incidental amount that occurs when you the light the gas stove.  I am talking about that lingering smell that you might encounter when there are no combustion appliances operating.  One very common place to find a gas leak is around the gas meter.

     During my walk around the exterior of a home the other day, I noted the smell of gas near the gas meter.  The nose is a really good tool for sensing gas leaks.  When possible I like to see if I can pin-point where the actual leak is.  If you get really close to the leak the odor intensifies.  (I think I better stop the allusions to "un-natural" gas right here.)

     Gas leaks are invisible and they can be made “visible” with a little soapy water----as can bee seen in this picture.

Bad Gas---it happens!

      I showed the buyer and their agent the gas bubble.  I then asked the buyer’s agent to call the listing agent and the gas utility to get the leak fixed.  Within about twenty minutes the gas company arrived and fixed the leak.  The gas company is very prompt at answering these kinds of calls----as one might imagine.

Who you gonna call---gas busters!

     If you have bad gas----make sure you call the gas company right away!  For the other kind, just open a window and smile.

Charles Buell

Seattle Home Inspectors, ASHI Home Inspector, Licensed Home Inspector, Structural Pest Inspector, Charles Buell Inspections Inc, Seattle, WA

 

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Comment balloon 26 commentsCharles Buell • September 22 2009 08:03AM

Comments

Charlie B, Good to hear that they are prompt in your area. I inspected a house with a similar situation that the gas company knew about for several months! Go figure...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

I've always been impressed how fast the gas company responds to gas odor reports...
What a great day to be alive!
Paul

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Professionals.) almost 9 years ago

Michael, around here they are VERY quick.

Paul---same here.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

With electricity rates 3 times the national average, I wish we had these problems to contend with but that does not seem to be in the cards for the foreseeable future.

Posted by Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist (Keller Williams Realty Maui) almost 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

It is because of this problem that I no longer inspect with you on a regular basis.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Hello Charles, glad to see the quick response time from the gas company.  We will sometimes smell gas in the home when opening the door for a showing -- and stop the showing to have the listing agent alerted to have the gas company sniff out and fix the leak.  John

PS - in this example here did you use the soap bottle that was covering up the cracked sink tile?  I also like to use soapy water to find the leak in my kid's flat bicycle tire.

Posted by Alexander- Slocum, Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate (Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington) almost 9 years ago

This is one of those issues that could scare a uyer, but is really a simple fix.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 9 years ago

You've got to quit soapin' up the bubblies, Charles.

Posted by Kate Kate almost 9 years ago

Oooo Oooo Oooo I have something to add.  Propane (which isn't natural gas) has the same thing.  No natural gas lines anywhere near the rural area I live Charles.  We all have tanks.  And even when there is NO leak, when your tank gets low you start to smell that awful odor and call for a fill up.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 9 years ago

Richard, here we have almost too many choices:  propane, natural gas, electric, oil----and combinations of all the above.

Nutsy=Mr Methane

John different house:)

Gene, I could definitely fix it faster than I could tell anyone about it---but not my job or liability:)

Kate, you sound like you have been in the Bubbly yourself:)

Tammy, for sure----propane has same issues

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Charles, one of my neighbors had a house guest who went out to the front porch for a quick smoke.  He smelled gas, decided not to light up, and the next day the street was totally ripped up.  I'm glad his sense of smell was not so impaired by his tobacco habit that he didnt' smell the stuff!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 9 years ago

Another in a long line of great posts by you Charles!

And great title to lure the readers in!

Well done my clever friend!

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) almost 9 years ago

Patricia, sounds like a wise time to not light up:)

Craig---thanks----if you can't lure them with quality lure them with grossness:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

I remember this house I inspected when I was just starting out. The agent opened the door and the odor of gas about knocked you over. I said you need to call the gas company and get that fixed before we can go in there. This guy had to think about it.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Charles, Quackers would probably have lit a match to see where the leak was.  He's one dumb duck.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 9 years ago

Godmother Barbara,

You are so correct, other than when I go down and run the show for Mr Charles, he just hires a bunch of bird brains. They do not even dress appropriately.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Nutsy.....I thought you were on vacation.  But you're just sitting back watching for awhile.  Quackers will never take your place!! 

P.S.  I hate that outfit that you have on.  Why can't you do a heart on the chest like some fashion ducks? 

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 9 years ago

James, it is a smell that is pretty hard to ignore

Barbara, I am sure that duck would have done that

Nutsy---you just can't quit being food can you?

Barbara, it is only is mind that is gone.

Quackers

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Charles, you have a very quirky sense of humor. Clever play on words, and good post! I was especially amused when the Remax people in Comment #6 asked if you'd used the soap bottle from your previous post about moving personal items aside during an inspection!

Posted by Leslie Helm, Real Estate For Trail Riders (Tennessee Recreational Properties) almost 9 years ago

Leslie, thanks----the comment about the soap bottle was pretty funny:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Charles - I've started buying gas leak solution and using that instead of soapy water.  Check out the label on an appliance connector the next time you get a chance.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 9 years ago

Reuben, I have two of them down in my basement (spoils of war) and neither one says anything about soapy water:)  I take it you have one that says not to use it?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

You got it.  I have a four year old appliance connector at my house, and it doesn't say anything about soapy water either... but the new ones say not to use it. 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 9 years ago

I did a little googling and it would appear that the concern is that there is no testing of the gazillion types of soap out there so no determination can be made as to what effect the soap will have in terms of corrosion.  So the appliance manufactuers want you to test with something that is "listed" for the the purpose.  When the gas company came out to this particular leak they used soap---ivory I think:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Did anyone light up a cigarette to think things over during your explanation?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jay, do you think I should have shown them how the leak could work as a pilot light?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

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