Sunday, January 28, 2007

I Smell Gas

So yesterday afternoon, I was making an overly large meal (cheesy brocolli omelette and rice... yum!) when my neighbour Susan rang my bell. She said that she's been smelling gasoline or oil on her first floor and in her basement. She has electric heat, so it's likely coming in to her house from elsewhere. The basement wall between our houses has holes in it (filled with stuffing, but holes nonetheless), so it's possible that vapour could seep in through there.

I open the door to my basement to check it out, and I can immediately smell gas/oil. Not overpowering, but noticeable. I investigated the tank, tubes, and furnace, but I can't see a leak anywhere. So I call Harveys Oil, and they send a guy over to check it out. He has a good look at it and tells me that my furnace & tank are definitely not leaking. In addition, he says that it doesn't even smell like home heating fuel. While he's down there, he finds a little tub with some oil in it... the castoff from when the furnace had been bled at some point in the past, probably. Could that be it? If so, why would it only be noticeable now?

I've got my basement door left open to let it ventilate (which is the best suggestion anyone on the web seems to have for dealing with oil spills), but of course this means that the rest of my house has begun to smell of oil. Very disturbing. And because it's frigid outside, it's hard to keep the windows open for any length of time. Why does this kind of thing never happen in summer?

I wonder how much it would cost to switch over to electric heat? I am so not a fan of oil anymore (and not just because of this incident... it's been building).

Anyone have any ideas/suggestions? I would definitely appreciate it.


myrna said...

Yikes, Jon, that's unsettling.

I'm surprised the Harvey's guy didn't have any suggestions. Have you called the City?

(When I first started reading your post, I thought the gas in question was going to have something to do with the cheesy omelette...hehe)

Voice said...

I was wondering who would break the 'ass gas' seal. :P

Good news, I think, on the oil smell front: When I came home from my folk's house tonight, I could smell gas as soon as I came in the door. Taking advantage of the fresh nose, I headed right to the basement to see if it was worse there or not. Surprisingly, I could barely smell anything down there (aside from normal basement mustiness).

So perhaps it's gone and I just need to ventilate? I'm hoping so. Dad is coming over tomorrow to check it out, and if it's still there we're going to call Environment Canada or something.

A really unsettling option occurred to me as well... it could be that oil is seeping down into the soil under our houses from somewhere above. I *think* I smelled some oil as I was walking down the laneway behind my house, but it may just have been paranoia. But if that were the case, the basement would smell way worse than upstairs, right? I hope so.