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Stuttering Shell: Thank you, gas man!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thank you, gas man!

I forgot to ask his name. I wonder if he's still sitting outside the house in his VNG truck?


I called Virginia Natural Gas tonight...their emergency line. I've since realized that what I thought was a gas emergency wasn't such an emergency. But, I'm glad I called and I'm glad I have an answer to our little issue.

We have gas appliances - stove, furnace, water heater. Our stove & furnace are cool...both are relatively young, but our water heater is geriatric. The serial number (and most serial numbers start with the date of manufacture) starts with 98. Yes, our water heater was built in 1998. That doesn't necessarily mean it was installed in 1998, but it still means the damn thing is about 11 years old. I've asked around and the average life span of a water heater is about, oh, 10 years or so. Yeah, our little water heater is a trooper.


I smelled gas. I swear I did. Adam did, too. He actually believed me for a change and didn't think I was nuts! Of course, to smell the gas you have to get riiiiiight on the water heater by the temperature valve. We've had a gas plumber look at the water heater twice -- both times we were told nothing was wrong because the gas pipes weren't leaking...that maybe we were just smelling residual gas that had built up as a result of having to shut off the gas line to the house (we had some work done to the gas line behind our stove during our kitchen reno). Anywho...I still didn't think something was quite right and my biggest fear was having my house:

a) Blow up with us in it
b) Blow up while we were all at work or school
c) Blow up just after I get the laundry all caught up (wouldn't that be a bitch...I know, I know, this is a serious matter and I shouldn't make jokes...people have lost their lives due to natural gas build ups...)

So, I called VNG and they sent a tech out and he arrived around 9:30pm. Bless his heart. If I could hug the man, I would. He checked things out with the little gas leak detector -- it buzzes, whistles and hums depending on the intensity of the leak -- and, sure enough, it went cuckoo around the temperature valve. He did the soap test and then did some snooping. He messed with the valve and then had me put my hand just underneath the valve. When he cut the temperature up, I felt heat. My water heater is leaking heat! Well, not exactly, but basically when the temperature is up and the water heater cuts on, the gas or whatever gets all cranked up and whatever is leaking around the valve is being burned up by the heat. The smell I am smelling is the burned off gas smell and you can see it on the water heater. It forms a very long, light tan triangle on the water heater.

This, friends, is a sign of old age.

The gas man said that everything is fine. It was nothing for him to warrant shutting off the water heater or making us shut off the gas line and evacuate the house -- thank gawd! He did advise that, yes, we'll need to replace the water heater soon (oh, boy), but overall things were ok. One thing he did mention to me was that since we transformed half of the garage into a separate laundry area that we cut off some of the air space for the water heater. Had the room been made smaller, then our problem would have been greater. So, as a temporary fix, I have the door from the laundry room to the garage open to help better ventilate the laundry room.


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Anonymous J-Ko said...

Whew is right! You should get a tankless water heater-it's costly BUT it conserves energy and obviously wouldn't leak or omit gas. And btw, that would suck if your house blew up after folding laundry all night.

Feb 11, 2009, 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Shell said...

Do you have a tankless? We've looked into them, but aren't too sure.

I think it's sticker shock that has us in it's firm grip...even conventional gas water heaters are not cheap.

Oh, boy.

Feb 12, 2009, 8:34:00 AM  

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