Monday, April 23, 2007

For Earth Day, a Gas Leak!

Yesterday was Earth Day. I hadn't planned anything special. But our house decided to celebrate by burning out one of the compact fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen and - this is the fun part - getting a small gas leak going in the dryer! I was late getting laundry started on Sunday (like 8 pm late) and when I took the towels out of the dryer where they had sat overnight, they smelled VERY STRONGLY of gas.

We have a gas dryer (and stove, water heater, furnace...) so I was pretty concerned. The smell was really only strong inside of the dryer. I opened the window (at least the weather was nice) to air out the bathroom. Then I called the gas company. It took a few times to get past a busy signal, but then it took a while to get through the voice mail system. (I'm glad it wasn't a dangerous emergency...) In about a half an hour a technician pulled in the driveway. He comes in with a fancy piece of equipment that has a sniffer on the end and sounds like a Geiger counter when it smells gas. So what is the first thing he does when he gets to the bathroom? .... He sticks his head in the dryer.

A few minutes later he's narrowed down the problem to the valve inside of the dryer. It is easily accessible if you pull down on the lower panel in the front of the dryer. Apparently the manifold doesn't shut off the flow of gas when it is supposed to anymore. He shows me a manual shut-off for the valve and says that we can keep using the dryer safely, we just have to shut the gas off manually when we aren't using it.

If we can find the replacement part for a reasonable price, we should be able to fix the dryer. If not, we may be appliance shopping soon. (Washer and dryer are Roper brand, came with the house, and are probably 20+ years old. They owe no-one.)

I learned a few things on Sunday:
-Visits from gas company technicians to investigate a gas leak are free.
-The dryer has a panel in the front that is easy to open, and you can see the fire in there when it is running.
-I shouldn't have spent so much time with my own head in the dryer trying to decide if I needed to call the gas company. I got a headache that didn't go away until this morning at work.

In general the weekend was full of ups and downs. A special-occasion dinner at our favorite restaurant was disappointing because they changed the menu from fancy food to bar food. (BAD) We had friends over for the first grilling of the season on Saturday. (GOOD) I walked for 6 miles with another friend on Sunday in a forest preserve and we got to catch up on girl-talk. (GOOD) I ended up with unexplained red blotches all over my arms and legs afterward. (BAD) They stopped getting worse once I showered, and went away by the end of the night. (GOOD) The dryer misbehaved (BAD) which meant I couldn't do laundry (BAD, no, GOOD). And on and on....

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