Don’t assume anything. The other day as I was leaving the house for my first appointment, I heard a hissing noise in the distance. I looked around and saw the construction workers building the church behind my house, so I thought the noise was just an air hose with a bad fitting connection that is found on just about every construction site. I shrugged my shoulders and drove to my first apointment.
I had two inspections that day and a lunch meeting to attend, so I did not get back home until 6:30 PM and the hissing noise was still there. This time there was no one at the construction site. My curiosity was killing me, so I decided to take a walk around and find the origin of the hissing noise. I was up wind from the sound, so I could not smell anything in the air.
I live in neighborhood where people are coming and going all day. There are only 17 houses in the neighborhood, so everybody knows their neighbors.
As walked up the street it became evident that the noise was coming from a neighbor’s house three doors up. I walked closer and closer until there it was. That familuar smell of rotten eggs. I was close enough to see the exterior gas line at the meter was completely torn loose from it’s fitting. I immediately got to a safe distance away and called 911 and stopped all traffic in the area, which wasn’t much of course.
The volunteer fire department is only two blocks away and arrived in less than five minutes. The cheif was first on the scene and as I flagged him to stop he kept on coming. As he approached he was rolling his driver side window down to ask me what the problem was. He was approaching from the down wind side and immediately stopped and backed away from the house.
No one including myself knew if anyone was home because there were no vehicles around the house. The firemen put on their PPE and turned the gas off at the meter. They then knocked on the door as the owner arrived on the scene. The owner informed the fireman that his elderly mother was in the house and gave them his keys. As they entered the house they found the mother lying in bed oblivious of anything at all and quite sick from inhalation posioning. After treating the mother at the scene with oxegen she seemed to come around and refused to go to the hospital. The firemen vented the house and three hours later gave the all clear.
I will never assume a hissing noise is an air hose fitting again.
The gas line had pulled away from the fitting because the copper tubing was installed from the meter to the fitting with out any slack in it. The drought had caused the ground to sink due to no moisture in the ground. The underground feed from the street pulled the copper tube fuel line apart from the fitting due the ground sinking and pulling the meter down with it.
Moral of this story: Gas fuel lines from the meter to the house foundation entry should have a little room to allow for the ground to sink. This was more than a settling issue around the house. I looked at the rest of the gas line configurations at my neighbors houses and found three more that were ready to pull loose. WOW.