Mystery of the Secret Stench

For most of us, the scent of something rotting is simply repulsive.

But for others, such as carrion-feeding vultures, hyenas and house flies, it’s a scent that means meal time!

One evening, having arrived home from a long and tiring day at the office, I was greeted at my front door by a strong but unfamiliar odour. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…

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Saying it was over powering would be putting it mildly. And, YES, I used deodorant that morning.  And, NO, I don’t eat carrion.

The wife immediately approaches and demands that I get to the root of the problem – and quickly! 

I might add here that we are in the process of selling our home, so the reek of rotting rodent could pose a problem for a petulant purchaser.

The Great Search

From where was that sickly stench stemming?

The Roof?… Under the house?… My shoes?… The Dog?

It became a real Sherlock Holmes affair, as we attempted to locate what we then thought to be a reeking rotting rodent.

Applying my keen olfactory skills – I fumbled over furniture, behind cupboards and, YES, I even ventured into the laundry (there is a first time for everything).

No luck and it was getting late.

The wife to the rescue, at least temporarily.  She ensured the house was well “aired”, purging the pungent problem. 

Problem solved?  Not at all.

We awoke the next morning greeted by the acrid aroma of our presumed new found friend still hanging about.

We were stumped!

Finally Found It

At our wits ends, and resorting to the process of elimination, we decided check our gas appliances and… Bingo!

We found the culprit!

The bayonet fitting, where we connect our very much loved portable gas heater, was emitting gas – be it ever so slowly.

I discovered that the internal bayonet stopper hadn’t sealed correctly after disconnecting the heater hose, for storage purposes.

Kudos were in order for my successful sleuthing (still waiting on them from the better half). 

Fixing the Problem

I had to settle for a chat with my friendly gas fitter. I was tempted to try and fix it myself, but then sanity set in and the gas fitter was on his way.

Left to my own devices, I probably would have jammed a screwdriver inside, trying to re-align it.  But screwdrivers are steel and steel can create sparks – not a good thing with leaking gas.

Apparently, the spring behind the stopper can sometimes misalign itself which pushes the stopper off centre and creates an opening (ever so small) for a gas leak.

The experience alerted me to the possible problem, when we disconnect our gas appliances during future spring cleanings.  Ensuring that the stopper (inside the bayonet) completely covers the opening is definitely on my checklist.  

All it took was a careful twitch of the spring loaded stopper for it to re-seat itself, creating a tight and proper seal. 


Lesson Learned

A looming divorce was adverted and our open house went through smelling like nirvana!

So, our malodorous experience wasn’t the misfortune of a poor rodent after all. 

It was a chemical called Ethyl Mercaptan, an odourant added to LPG for safety. 

LPG is naturally odourless.  So, without adding that smell of rotten cabbage (or dead rodent based on my experienced nose) we might never have known we had a leak.

Sooooo… be aware when connecting and disconnecting your gas appliances or you just might find yourself mistakenly forking out moola for a pest control visit.




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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.

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