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Is It Normal To Smell Natural Gas By The Pilot Light Of A Gas Water Heater?

I am very paranoid about having gas leaks. Recently, I was doing some cleaning and I smelled just the slightest gas odor when I put my nose about 5 centimeteres from the pilot light area of my gas water heater. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to smell anything at all. Since the pilot light is igniting the gas at that sight, would that be normal and should I be concerned? Thanks.

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  1. Comment by Here Kitty Kitty
    October 9, 2009 @ 3:31 am

    Probably not a problem, but put some liquid detergent in small amount of water and whisk it good to get foamy. Apply the foam all around the control valve. If it bubbles more you found a leak. I use a match, but don’t you try it.

  2. Comment by DA
    October 9, 2009 @ 6:16 am

    That’s fine. Natural gas has fragrance added to it so you can smell it if it leaks. When you’re right where the gas is coming out of the pipe, you should be able to smell it.
    If you’re paranoid about a potential leak, don’t ask us. You should call the gas company and let them know. If you suspect that something isn’t right and they agree with you, someone will be out there right away.
    ALSO – buy a carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout. You will see if you are safe. It should read 0 at all times. In Illinois, we are required to put one within 15 feet of all sleeping areas. Even if it isn’t code, this is your life so you should take all necessary precautions. You should also have your furnace cleaned and inspected. The HVAC guy will look at your heat exchanger to make sure that your gas is being burned properly and that you’re not breathing CO.

  3. Comment by Eskimo Lady
    October 9, 2009 @ 10:29 am

    You only need be concerned if your pilot light is not burning. Otherwise the flame would be burning all the gas right there.
    Gas leaks are only dangerous when a lot of gas has leaked out without being ignited. Then when the gas does hit a flame there is a lot more of it, and everything goes up in smoke. So, as long as you got your flame you don’t have a problem.
    You would probably smell the small amount of gas coming out as it is being ignited if you were that close. You only have to worry about smelling gas in places it shouldn’t be able to reach.

  4. Comment by Carl
    October 9, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

    There is sulfur added to the gas so you can smell it. Your nose can smell trace amounts like parts per million. When the pilot burns the gas the sulfur still goes off into the air.

  5. Comment by Tye1973
    October 9, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

    you are safe

  6. Comment by mark l
    October 10, 2009 @ 2:39 am

    You should not smell any unburned nat. gas. You probably have a small leak. Spray all of the fittings with soapy water and see for yourself.

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