How I survived a gas leak
January 20, 2014

How I survived a gas leak

New gas meter with leaking pipe fittings.

New gas meter with leaking pipe fittings.

This post will be different from the usual as it is a story from the non-organist part of my life. It’s the story of the gas leak.

In early January Winter Storm Hercules provided ample opportunity for shoveling snow. We do not own a snow blower so we decided to keep up with the snow by shoveling a few times during the storm. We reasoned that it is easier to shovel 3 inches of snow at one time than 10 inches.

When I went out for the final shovel of the evening I spent about 20 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. The last bit to shovel was the front step. A small but important area as that is where our mailbox resides. This is when the drama began as I smelled gas on the front step!

At first I tried to talk myself out of it. What are the odds of actually having a gas leak? Pretty low, I would guess. The smell was not constant. I only got it a whiff ever now and then. Maybe I was imagining it. I decided to wait for Ted (my husband) to come home and see if he could smell it to have a group consensus. I went into the house, feeling paranoid, that my house/neighborhood was about to explode.

Ted was not due home for another 45 minutes. There was no logical reason as to why my mind would imagine the smell of a gas. I decided to call my mom for her opinion. If I maybe smelled gas should I call the gas company? After two calls and advice from my dad I called the gas company “just to be safe”.

The gas bill had come that very day. I didn’t have to search for an old bill or check their website for the number. There it was sitting on the table, waiting to be recycled. I began to think it was not a coincidence that I (probably) smelled gas the same day that the bill came. The person was very nice and said calling was right decision. Better to have it checked out.

The on call technician arrived in less than 10 minutes, even with all the snow. He came inside first and checked the basement. No signs of gas inside. Then he asked where the gas meter was. It was very cold out so I waited at the door as he went around the corner of the house to the gas meter. I could hear his gas checking tool. At first, it was heard just a few beeps. But then, when he was at the gas meter the tool started beeping as fast as it could! I don’t think it could have beeped any faster.

Lesson Learned: Trust my instincts!!!

The gas technician came back to the door  and shared that the face plate on the gas meter was leaking gas. He had a new meter in his truck. At 10 PM, in the snow and very cold temperatures, he replaced our gas meter. I held the flash light. He had it replaced in about 10 minutes. He also pointed out that we need to be clearing snow away from the air intake from our furnace. The air intake is only a couple of feet from the gas meter.

Snow lining the driveway

Snow lining the driveway

We believe the problem was solved. A few days later along comes Winter Storm Ion. This meant more shoveling! One the final shovel of that night I made sure the furnace air intake was not covered with snow. And I smelled gas again! It was a light smell, not as heavy as the first incident, but I could still smell it. This time it was extremely cold. I called the emergency number again. About a hour later, the technician arrived (the roads were very snow covered by then).

He checked with the gas checker tool. The beeps were slow. He discovered a very small leak in a pipe fitting. He said when the meter was replaced the fitting probably came loose. He also said it was not a dangerous situation so he did not replace anything in the dark and freezing temperatures. The following week, all of the pipes and fittings were replaced.

I survived a gas leak by calling the emergency number when I smelled gas. Perhaps, we were never in any eminent danger. However, smelling gas results in an unsettling feeling.

I like to take inspirational ideas from my organ lessons and share how they can be applied to real life situations. With the gas leak situation, I’ve been pondering how could I apply what I learned (to trust my instinct) to my organ practice. Here is what I have come up with: If something sounds wrong it probably is (unless it is dissonant by design). I do not have confidence when practicing. My instinct will tell me if it is right or wrong. I need to trust myself and quickly adjust and fix the wrong notes.

How do you think I could apply this real life lesson to my organ practice or to your life?

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Mark Allman - January 23, 2014 Reply

I don’t think we should be embarrassed when we have someone check out something that could be really harmful. It is ok to be wrong and I am sure they gas guy wished you had been wrong. 🙂 I tend to try to always er on the side of caution even if I appear silly or whatever. I’d rather be the one in that position than standing beside a casket.

    Heidi Bender - January 24, 2014 Reply

    Hi Mark,

    The lady on the emergency line said something similar when I called in the second time. Better safe than sorry.

    I felt like the gas guy thought was going to be wrong when he arrived and didn’t seem to smell on the front step. I was very thankful though the he put the new meter on that night in the freezing cold.

    Heidi

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