Unexplained gas issue

I am in need of an answer from an expert in natural gas. This has me puzzled. I inspected a home yesterday that had been shut down for the winter. The utility company had come out to turn on the services. A note was left on the door that since no one was home at the time they would not turn on the gas. The meter is still locked. The home has a gas water heater and furnace. The furnace naturally will not operate because there is no gas I tried it. Explain how the water heater is working perfectly? Good flame, hot water at 115 degrees. Where is the gas coming from?? My first thought was an illegal bypass, by why would the furnace not be working. The shutoff is open for the furnace. So no reason for gas not to be there if it’s at the water heater. Thoughts anyone?m

Were you able to trace any of the natural gas supply pipes to the WH? Was the WH propane?

I busted a landlord once. His rental property was next door. He stole gas from his renter to supply his home. Renter obviously had high gas bills. Such a scum bag.

Anyway, your narrative describing the problem would also work well in your report if it is inconclusive.

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I found no evidence or propane anywhere on the property. As far as tracing, the water heater and furnace are side by side in the same closet. All the lines were in the attic and visible.

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How about the water heater label? It should say natural gas or propane. Many propane tanks are buried. I am just trying to eliminate other fuel sources so you can confidently describe what is happening.

Why did the utility company not turn on the gas? No access to the home?

I think you are left with a couple of possibilities if no propane:
Stolen natural gas
Failed lock-out valve
(furnace may not have been lit or was faulty, hence not working).

One more thing, why is that gas line going into the ground and up?

Attach a picture of the water heater. It must be electric.

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@mwilles I am ready for a photo as well.

I saw that Brian I just never saw gas supply to a fixture with the meter turned off. Why didn’t he trace the fuel pipe?

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In my area, they won’t turn on the NG unless they can verify there are no leaks in the home when they do.

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@jjonas same here. I also see tags from the NG provider which identify other unsafe conditions such as no appliance shut-off etc.

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@mwilles exactly! Where did the lines go? Most cases in my experience, the NG line drops into the mechanical area as one supply pipe and then is branched to the two separate appliances.

or an unpaid bill…

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Cmon guys I know the difference between a gas and electric water heater. I would have a pic of the flame but that’s hard to get through the view window

No disrespect Ben. We just go where it takes us :grinning:

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And yes there was one line that dropped into the closet that split to the water heater and furnace. So the furnace could have another issue than no gas. Still no reason for the water heater to be working.

Unless the locked valve is not working AND there is a furnace problem…

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Okay. Why is the gas line Tee’d past the meter? One going down and one going up? Is the one coming up from the ground the “pirated” gas supply? I bet they are stealing cable too :wink:

Or, as I stated before. Failed lock out valve.

If it’s not a propane in a ground tank, it is free gas :slight_smile:

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I agree… :joy:

So, check the meter dials. Mark on the window of the meter with a pencil or wax pencil directly the position of the dials. I.E. like a clock each dial will be in a different position representing how much natural gas is used in between readings.
Mark them then turn on some hot water (Bath tub works fastest) . That will refill the tank and the flame should kick on.
IF the gas going to the HWH is coming from that public supply, the dial/s will move off of the marks you made. (Some more that others)
If the Flame kicks on and zero movement of dials, well something is up!
Start back tracking the soft copper from the WH to where it leavs the house, this is where things get fun!
Good luck!

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All good ideas but of course the inspection is done and other than this there is no reason to go back. I put in my report that something was fishy with the gas. I am considering calling the gas company and asking them about it though.

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