Monday, March 31, 2008

What?, There's Gas Leaking? (Part II of CO)

After the terrors of the previous night, I was determined to stop CO-habitating immediately. First thing that morning, I call up the apartment help line. You can eavesdrop on our conversation:

"Hi, this is Amy in apartment C13 and I would like to have maintenance come look at our apartment because I believe that carbon monoxide might be leaking from our stove."

"What, there's gas leaking?"

"No, I think it's carbon monoxide."

"Can you smell it?"

"No, I can't smell anything. It's an odorless gas."

"So you can't smell it?"..."Well, I'll have maintenance come over as soon as they can and take a look."

I hang up with little confidence that a decent explanation would make its way to maintenance.
Surprisingly quick, and unusually prompt, a maintenance guy pounds on my door. He says, "You have a gas leak?" Expecting this from my previous phone conversation, I let him in and re-explain the whole situation about how I got sick the night before and had gotten sick one other time from, presumably, the same thing, which I suspect from my research was carbon monoxide, which doesn't smell, leaking from our stove. He swaggers over to the stove and preformed the "sniff test". "Well, I don't smell anything. Are you sure it was leaking gas?" He opens the oven door, peers in, shuts it and says, "I don't see anything..."

After a few minutes of indecision and no further inspection, our maintenance guy decides to call the fire department to see if they know anything about carbon monoxide. He asks me if I have a phone book and, after not being able to find the phone number there, he walks out the door muttering to himself. I have no idea what is going on. Ten minutes later there's the unmistakable pounding of the fire department on our door. They pound as if they intend to break the door down if you don't come. One time earlier that year the fire department had come to our apartment looking for some sort of water leak and just about gave us heart attacks with their unexpected and incessant thumps. Holding Timmy on one hip (I'm babysitting) and corralling Dominic with my leg so that he doesn't escape, I open the door to two firemen in full get-up. The tanks, masks and everything! Timmy takes one look and immediately starts to wail, really loudly. Dominic just keeps on trying to escape but every few seconds confusedly(and cutely) look concerned that Timmy is crying.

The firemen immediately go over to the oven and check for natural gas leaks. Reporting that they can't find any, they remove their masks and tell me, over Timmy's screams, that they are going to be checking all of the apartments in the building for gas leaks, especially on the balconies where the furnaces are located. In vain do I try to redirect them to carbon monoxide instead of natural gas. In vain do I tell them I have never smelled leaking gas. And in vain, do the fire men come. Out they go onto our balcony. They came back in and Timmy re-commences his wailing.

They leave and just when everyone is calmed down they return to tell me there did not find any natural gas leaks and are going to leave now. Timmy begins to wail again. Walking outside to see them leave in the fire truck, I am astonished to see that there is not one but five fire trucks outside my apartment for "carbon monoxide". Wow.

The maintenance guy returns and makes fun of the fire department and their big to-do. He tells me that a guy from PECO (the electric company) is going to come since the fire department didn't find anything. Thirty minutes later a very boring looking man in a blue collar shirt knocks normally, comes in and asks me if I'm experiencing a gas leak. Almost completely exasperated, I again explain that no, there is no gas leak, I think it's carbon monoxide... Without missing a beat, this man, says, "Oh, well I wish they'd told me that. I'll have to go to my truck and get the carbon monoxide detector." (!) So he comes back, uses his little CO honing device and discovers that yes, the stove is producing some CO.

Very knowledgeably he explains that all stoves produce some CO when they are used, and that this stove, while it is a little high in its CO production, is still within the acceptable range for a stove. When I ask him why our carbon monoxide detector didn't go off, he says that it is only programmed to go off if there are large amounts of CO in a short amount of time. It doesn't register a lower amount over a longer amount of time. Some people are also simply more sensitive to CO. There isn't a window in our kitchen, so try to open the glass door in the living room to get a little circulation and take breaks so that you're not by the stove for so long. He then explains to maintenance that they can turn down a certain valve a little bit and the oven won't produce as much CO. I thank him profusely for actually dealing with my problem. He unceremoniously leaves, and I feel much better.

An hour later I get a call from the same maintenance guy, we're getting you a new stove. It should be there tomorrow. Apparently no man on the maintenance crew is capable of turning down stove valves and therefore this situation required that I get a nice, new shiny clean white stove. Hey, good thing that I didn't clean the old oven like I meant to last week! (and this one is self-cleaning). Hurrah for CO...


  1. UNBELIEVABLE!! Oh my gosh, I cannot imagine how exasperating that must have been. It's a little frightening, too, to see just how ignorant our would-be-saviors can be.

    I'm glad you're getting a new stove. I hope it doesn't make poor Timmy wail..

  2. Also, would someone please explain to me how an oven can CLEAN ITSELF??

  3. lol! funny story, Amy. I'm glad someone was finally able to figure it out, and that you get a new stove out of the whole deal. :)