Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Night the Gas Leaked

After one of the longest, warmest, driest years we can remember for Oregon--and now quite used to fans running throughout the house at full speed--the late August nights were finally cool enough that we could turn the fans off. The Man and I went to bed around midnight, as usual. I awoke around 4:00am with a terrible sense that something was not right. Smoke. I smell smoke. No. Not smoke. Gas. Gas?! Oh $#@! My eyes snapped open, and I was on my feet in a second.

"Dude, get up! I smell gas!" I stated loudly as I attempted to find my glasses in the dark. The Man sprang out of bed and said he couldn't smell anything. I rushed around past him to sprint downstairs. The smell became stronger as I descended. It was foul, choking, and made my eyes water. The Man stumbled behind me, flipping on the lights that I had been careful not to use. I used my not-nice voice to tell him never to do that, but he didn't understand at the time (he gets it now). When we rounded the corner to the kitchen, we could immediately see that one of the knobs on the stove was canted to "on" but not yet igniting. I shut it off. We opened the entire house, every window and door, to air it out. The Man went back upstairs to get a fan, and I fanned the air with a towel trying to get air to exchange. We both agreed that turning on a fan to air the place out was probably acceptable since none of the other light switches ignited the house--so we went ahead and turned on one floor fan. We also kicked the forced air on and made it blow air around in the house. Thankfully nothing exploded.

Shaking, scared, still choking on fumes, and displeased to be anywhere but my bed at 4:00am, I made the choice to call the gas company. A human answered immediately, and I fumbled out an explanation of what had happened and asked what we should do. They indicated that someone was on the way to our house to confirm that everything was okay--and that they'd be there shortly.

We don't live "in town" exactly, but we're within the city limits, so I figured on a fifteen or twenty minute wait. The house was cooling quickly with the cool air, and the smell of gas was long gone by the time the gas man arrived an hour later. He drove by the house at least four times, supposedly not able to see the one house in the neighborhood with every light on, every window open, and me waving frantically from the front porch in the full blast of our flag spotlight.

He tested the house before he'd even set foot inside, but he didn't get a reading. Good. He checked upstairs, downstairs, inside, and out. No gas. Phew. We contained it ourselves, cleared the house, and thought that was it, but nooooo, because it was an emergency call, he had to shut the gas off. He shut it off and told us someone would be back first thing in the morning to turn it back on. We said goodbye and went back to bed. Sleep? Not so much. But we could lay there for a few hours, right?

The second gas man came first thing at 11:30am. He tested the house again before turning the gas on, and then checked everything again once he turned it on. The stove, fireplace, and furnace were all perfect. No gas leaks. The water heater, however, lit up like a Christmas tree. His little wand went nuts. Beep! Beep! Beep! He asked me to open the garage door to increase ventilation. His brow furrowed, and I became very nervous. Like, chatting about stupid things nervous. He got out some tools, tightened our gas line really well, and tested again. Beep! Beep! Beep! Ugh. I tried to watch and help, but I also tried to not hover or be more annoying. He tightened our pipes again, really putting his body weight into it, and tested yet again. Beep! and then nothing. No more beeps. He tested and tested and recalibrated his machine and tested again. Nothing. No more gas leaks.

After one of the most traumatic nights in years, we finally determined that the non-leak was caused by human error. On the positive side, we never would have discovered the small leak at the water heater had the human error not occurred. Our gas leak scare turned out to be a real gas leak!

1 comment:

Jules said...

Wow! That could've been a lot worse! So glad that the little leak led you to the big one!