The one with the gas leaks. Plural. As in, more than one.

by DaniGirl on October 27, 2011 · 16 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything, The ongoing saga of the house

I‘m at work, and calling Beloved to arrange for a ride home because I’m pretty much stranded. I’ve just dropped the car off for servicing and to have the winter tires installed and am still feeling crusty about the fact that apparently my dealership will drop you off in a courtesy shuttle but not pick you up. But, they don’t bother to mention this fact until you’re actually in the shuttle. Or at least, that’s how it played out for me. So I’m calling Beloved to see if he can rearrange his afternoon and pick me up downtown, drop me off at the dealer at the south end of Bank, then hustle on over to Manotick to pick up the boys from school. Not happy.

He mentions he’s feeling dizzy, and says Tristan complained of the same. “And you mentioned you’d been feeling dizzy last night,” he says. I kind of shrug, but my mind skims back another day and I think, “Hmmm, I turned on the furnace on Tuesday before bed. And yesterday I was feeling a bit dizzy. And today, they’re feeling dizzy.” I don’t much like all those coincidences, but I am still smarting from the embarrassment of having the fire department show up one fine morning almost a year ago to help us replace the batteries in our CO detector.

More to appease Beloved than out of any sense of urgency, I agree to call Enbridge. And I suggest that he turn off the furnace. It’s cool, but not freezing outside. Better safe than sorry, right? So I find the the Enbridge site and a toll free number. The first option in the voice mail tree asks me if this is an emergency or not. I’m about to confirm “not” when they mention something about carbon dioxide. I waffle for a second, then press the zero to be put into the emergency queue, cringing. The operator comes on and already I’m hedging, explaining that it’s not really an emergency but since I have you on the line, I have a question… and I try to schedule an appointment for maybe this afternoon, or maybe tomorrow?

The operator will have none of that. She needs to dispatch someone immediately if they take my call. Ugh. Beloved is half way to Gatineau by now on his way to a meeting, and I’m friggin’ stranded downtown. I tell her I’ll call back. And I immediately dial my sweet, wonderful, reliable parents. Of course they’re willing to help, and within 30 minutes my dad is at the house, waiting on the porch. When I call Enbridge back, they dispatch someone right away and tell me all the occupants of the house should see a doctor right away. I cringe again. I am almost positive this will be another false alarm. I am both relieved and mortified that my father will bear the brunt of this encounter.

Time passes. I wonder if Enbridge has a false alarm blacklist, and if they’ll stop taking my calls after this. I wonder if I’ll be charged for this second call within a year. I cringe some more. I call Beloved to let him in on my frenzy of organizing and dispatching, and he mentions he’s still feeling a little dizzy and I cringe some more. If he’s out in the fresh air and feeling off, clearly we’ve misread the situation.

Time passes. My dad finally calls. There were two gas leaks.

I close my eyes and lose track of what he is saying for a minute. Two? Gas? Leaks? At my house? Where my babies were sleeping? Where I had a fire in the fireplace the day before I turned on the furnace? What if I’d gotten around to having one yesterday? What if I’d used the oven or stove instead of calling for pizza yesterday? What if, what if, what if… and I realize I have to pay attention because what my dad is trying to tell me is Very Important Information, but all I can hear are the sounds of sirens that did not wail.

I’ve learned enough so far this morning that my brain has stopped accepting new information. In no particular order, I’ve learned:

  • it really is better safe than sorry.
  • always make sure you have a ride home booked BEFORE you leave your car at the dealership.
  • parents are a gift from God.
  • it’s possible to age 10 years in a three-minute conversation.
  • twenty-year-old furnaces are not to be relied upon.
  • parents are a gift from God. I know I mentioned that one already. It bears repeating.

I’m left to wonder why our CO detector didn’t go off. Clearly, we need to invest and upgrade here.

And finally, this is my message to you. If you’re ever worried about something like this, make the call. And if it’s a false alarm and happens the next day, make the call again.

I think I need to go sit under my desk for a while.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Annie @ PhD in Parenting October 27, 2011 at 11:33 am

Oh no! How awful. I’d be shaking too.

If you need someone to buy you a coffee or a cupcake before you head home, let me know…

2 kev October 27, 2011 at 11:49 am


So, the CO detector only goes off if there’s CO, which is caused by incomplete combustion and/or faulty venting. If it’s the natural gas in the raw, you need a different kind of detector for explosive gases, and it wouldn’t trigger the CO detectors. The natural gas you get in your home has an odorant added to it to make it easier to detect my smell, but I’m guessing that didn’t work. The other detector might be worth the investment, and I confess I had never thought of that scenario before (but we’re on oil, so…).

Also, does your CO detector have a digital readout on it? I like them better, because it lets you know if the level is > 0. They only trigger at a certain level, but anything more than 0 needs monitoring.

Glad you got it worked out, Ms. D, and make sure you stop off at the LCBO on the way home πŸ™‚

3 Dean Dad October 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Dani, that’s awful! I’m glad you caught it, and that everyone is safe.


4 Mary @ Parenthood October 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Eek!! And Eek! We don’t have CO or natural gas detectors at all. Maybe we should rethink that!

5 liz October 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm


Glad you all are okay, and found the leaks before anything went kaboom.

6 Sara October 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Yikes! My first thought when I read it on Twitter. I am glad everyone is okay.

I only have a CO detector upstairs. Maybe I should invest in another for the basement.

As far as I know of CO detectors don’t detect gas leaks you’d have to get another detector unit. I have one built into my furnace but I am one of those weird people who get their furnace checked before turning it on. I also get my chimney sweeped every fall too (I have to get on that).

You know what Dani, You don’t need to worry about the what-ifs. What matters is that everyone is okay.

7 Paula October 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Glad that the leaks were detected and hopefully all is repaired now or a new furnace is on order. Thankfully the *what ifs* never happened and everyone is safe.

P.S. If that’s a wood burning fireplace you have you may want to get your chimney’s swept especially if there is no record of how often the previous owner did it.

8 chichimama October 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

So glad everyone is safe!

Our furnace also had a leak, we are waiting for a part (and very cold πŸ˜‰ ). House ownership is no fun at all I’ve decided…hope your fix was easy and inexpensive…

9 Jody October 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

So relieved that you’re all okay. WHEW.

We’ve had several tiny gas leaks in our life, and I always cringe at the possibility that it will be a false alarm, and the service guy always, always tells me that they would rather come out for a false alarm than have to reconstruct an explosion site.

10 Jen October 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm

How terrifying!!! I’m so relieved to hear that everyone is ok. I can’t imagine the thoughts running through your head. Holy cow!

We have CO detectors as well, but didn’t realize they would not pick up gas.

11 Carly October 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, but thrilled you’re all okay.

Will it make you laugh if I tell you about the time my parents smelled rotten eggs in the house and called to have someone come and check for a gas leak? They showed up and looked everywhere, nothing coming up in their instruments. Finally one of the guys came upstairs, clearing trying not to laugh. He’d found a grocery bag with a whole, rotting chicken in it. Apparently my stepfather had taken it out of the freezer one day to make room for other groceries, and then promptly forgot all about it.

I’m so thankful you called, despite feeling a little silly about it. And again, so grateful everyone is okay!!!

Hope you had a nice glass of wine this evening.

12 Susan October 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Wow–glad you are all OK!

13 Amy October 29, 2011 at 10:19 am

I am glad that your family is okay. What a terrifying experience! Do you have to repair the furance or replace it? And, I have to echo the remarks of others re your wood-burning fireplace…if you haven’t already, please have the chimney done each fall prior to using the fireplace. Oh the ups and downs of home ownership! This post also reminded me that I have to get the car serviced/tires changed. Does the to-do list ever end?

14 DaniGirl October 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Thank you all for your sweet and supportive comments. What an experience!

The post script to the story is that there was actually one gas leak detected, and one faulty ignitor in the furnace — so the gas would build up as the ignitor was misfiring, and a failsafe would make it stop feeding gas when the furnace didn’t light, then it would wait for the gas to dissipate and try all over again — the second “leak” seems to have been from that source. All that to say, we’re only out about $500 for a new ignitor and a couple of hours of labour. And we’re now researching new furnaces!

As to the flue for the chimney, it’s clean! You’re right, Amy, the to-do list really is endless. Speaking of which, I’m off to rake up a few metric tonnes of leaves…


15 Avra November 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

I remember reading this when you first tweeted the link and thinking ‘phew, what a scary experience’. And then this weekend our detectors went off twice. And my husband felt dizzy. This post totally helped us. We knew who to call, I didn’t feel bad for calling & I was pretty calm when we got the evacuation request. In our case, there were no leaks, but like you say, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

16 DaniGirl November 14, 2011 at 7:05 am

Wow Avra, I’m so happy my rambly drivel actually helped you! I’m glad there were no leaks. We’re in the market for a new furnace now… πŸ™‚

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