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Gas Heat - Problem?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I recently moved to an apartment with gas heat. I was hesitant because I've heard of so many instances of leaks and fires and such resulting from gas heat. I've had everything turned off because of the mild temps, but lately it's been cooler. I just turned on the heat today. Bear with me because I know nothing about gas heat and don't know anyone around here to ask. Is it normal to have a gas smell coming from the radiator - it was kind of strong. I wouldn't worry except I've already had a few things go wrong in the apt. - broken drain, leaky faucet, rusty garage lock wouldn't open. I seriously thought it was a nice complex since I know people who used to live here and really liked it.

Anyway, I knew if I started to feel sick or dizzy, then to turn it off. I didn't, but the smell was strong enough that I turned it off after a few minutes and went outside. I would ask the lady that shares the townhouse with me, but I've never even seen her (probably not a good sign ). No one has said but a word to me - this lady who apparently lives a few buildings over said "hi," and I was so stunned I just gawked. So, I feel silly asking anyone. We have 24-hour mainenance (which we NEED with all the crappy apartments' problems), but I think he's sick of dealing with me, lol. I'm not one to be paranoid, as my last apt. was a half century old and NEVER did I have a problem with it. I was just wondering if anyone has experience with gas heat - I'm guessing it's pretty rare as I don't know anyone who has it - are odors natural or ok? I think the stove is also gas, and I didn't notice a strong smell with it. Will it just go away after a little while? Also, is CO2 poisoning possible with regular gas heat - I keep hearing about that, though have heard it doesn't have an odor...
post #2 of 18
Are you in the U.S. ?
post #3 of 18
I ask just because I have no idea about the what is normal for heating in the U.K.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I live in Ohio.
post #5 of 18
I can only tell you from my experience. I was hyper, too when I first bought a stove that was natural gas. I have used natural gas heat for so many years. Your heat, like any other gas type furnace, will smell "hot" when you first turn it on for the season. I do not think it should smell really strong and I would maybe call maintenance if you feel it's a strong smell.

Also, if you are concerned about CO2 poisoning, go to Walmart or somewhere and pick up a CO2 alarm. They are kind of expensive (if I remember correctly about $30.00 ) but well worth it if you are going to worry about it.
post #6 of 18
I agree you will smell burning smell when you first turn it on - but you shouldn't smell a natural gas smell.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm honestly not sure if it's a hot smell or gas smell. It doesn't smell like something burning. It smells like an electric heater does when it's first turned on, but there is also a gas smell - not like car gasoline exactly, but like cooking oil. It's hard to explain...
post #8 of 18
If you smell a gas smell, CALL!!!! I had smelled a faint gas smell in this house when I moved here at the end of December, both outside and inside...... I had also never had gas heat before, so I didn't know if it was normal. One day a few months ago, the smell was stronger. I called the gas company, and yep, there was a leak in my heater, and in the vent outside! The man from the gas company said you should never smell the gas.
post #9 of 18
electric heater when first turned on = it is the "hot smell" and usually perfectly normal. We usually turn the heater on when at first it isn't too cool outside - we leave the windows open to burn that smell out.

Here is a description of what natural gas smells like:

post #10 of 18
1 - if you smell gas you open your doors and windows to ventilate the property. Am not bothered if its cold or not, just do it - that gas HAS to escape
2 - Turn off the gas at the handle, if there is one at the metre, you turn it OFF - in the UK, its at 90 degrees to the pipe - thats off
3 - You DO NOT turn on any electrical switches, use cookers or anything else that can cause combustion, small arc or anything. If its on, leave it on. Off, then leave it off

4 - if this is a multi occupancy dwelling, you tell people there is a leak and haul your butts out
5 - You call Immediately the gas leak company and explain.

They will attend and make the property safe.

It takes 1 cubic foot of gas to demolish a property - if you smell gas, GET out

And as far as detectors are concerned, Co2 are good, Carbon monoxide is far more dangerous, its the silent killer, you find out you have it when you get headaches, nausea - sickness, flu like symptoms. If not, then you can find out by waking up dead.

am not fooling around by telling you this, i worked for the UK's largest gas company for 7.5 years, I have seen what gas can do. do the above please and call for help.

Sorry, not trying to scare you, but being blunt, straight forward and honest.

post #11 of 18
"The man from the gas company said you should never smell the gas"

The only reason we small gas is that when its brought up from underground, a smell is added so you can distinguish it. Thats the way is in the UK...
post #12 of 18
Originally Posted by kev
"The man from the gas company said you should never smell the gas"

The only reason we small gas is that when its brought up from underground, a smell is added so you can distinguish it. Thats the way is in the UK...
Good point - it is the same here - it is the additive that you smell.....
post #13 of 18
Unless you have a completely different type from anything I can imagine, there is no gas at the radiator site - the gas heats the water, which then circulates round the radiators. There will be a smell when you first turn on hte heating, as hte system gets going, but hte only place where there could be a gas leak would be wherever you have your gas boiler. But it is always a good idea to get a central system checked out when you move in - I have had gas heating for years in several different houses/apartments, including here, and I love it. It is usually cheaper and more instant.
post #14 of 18
You should go the gas company and not building maintainance to get your heater checked. What you smelled might have been gas released when you were lighting the pilot or you could have lighted it improperly allowing gas to escape. Be careful, be certain, call the gas company.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I turned on the heat again - this time, there was just a faint smell at first, then nothing. So, I guess it's nothing to worry about. Thank you all for the tips. I think I might get a carbon monoxide detector, though are they hard to install? The rentor is pretty picky about that stuff. If I don't use the gas heat a lot, carbon monoxide will not be a problem, right? I'm not sure if I'll use the gas or the electric heater. They gave me the heater to use upstairs because it gets colder up there. I'm not in the apartment that much (or at least I won't be soon) - the electric heater may suffice. I know it will cost more, but I just don't like the idea of gas running in my apt...
post #16 of 18
No - we actually have our monitors lying on the floor next to the heat registers and they are not attached to anything.
post #17 of 18
Electric space heaters are actually more dangerous than gas heaters. They can tip over, or have a blanket fall on them, and catch fire. We have gas heat and stove, and it is very safe.

When we first purchased the house, we did have the gas lines inspected. They had many leaks, and the pipes were the wrong type to carry gas. We had them all replaced, and have not had a problem since.

Your maintenance man may have a tool to check for gas leaks. Just call him monday, let him know this is the first time you have used gas heat, and you want him to ensure there are no leaks. Let him know you have smelled some gas, and are concerned.

My dd thought she smelled gas once when she was home alone, and she called the fire department. They came right out and checked. There was no gas leak, but they said they prefer to check it out if there is any question. I think Kev gives good advice!
post #18 of 18
My house is heated with a gas furnace, and I am actually petrified of gas appliances. I refused to get a gas stove, and had an electrician come in and install an electric outlet for my stove. Furnaces are a little more expensive to deal with! Anyways, I will NOT turn it on until my heating guy has come and inspected it to make sure everything's cool. He lights the pilot or whatever it is that they do with those things, and fires it up for the season, and puts a clean filter in it. The most I do is go down in the basement once a month to change the filter (I don't know if you have to do it that frequently, but I'm paranoid about dirty air!). I'd have someone come and check it out. You're not supposed to smell it. I have smelled it, it smells awful. Not like gasoline. The gas company sent out this card with the bills this month that had a "scratch and sniff" thing on it that had the odor of gas so everyone would know what it smelled like. But I know from my old apartment when the little pilot lights on the cooktop kept going out when I opened the windows.

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