Dear Former Homeowners Redux Redux Redux Redux Redux


We came home the other day to the delightful, cheery smell of a house full of propane.

It turns out that even though boring old building codes say your gas meter should be at least an inch away from adjacent surfaces, our former homeowners apparently needed that inch real bad, so ours was right up against the brick.

Now, bricks, you might know because you’re smarter than those very bricks, are water-porous. And if you give it enough time, that water does very exciting things to common household items like, to pick one entirely at random, gas meters.

When the Enbridge guy came (quickly and well-equippedly, I should add, which made me very happy) to find the leak a piece of the back of the meter just scraped off in his hands, corroded right through. This was easily dealt with as these things go, fortunately, because we’re in the middle of a basement reno. The washer and dryer were out of the way, so he had easy access to it to the main.

As part of that basement reno, we’ve replaced said old washer and dryer. And just moments ago, the fellow I gave the dryer to tells me that he believes the dryer will be much more efficient, now that he’s pulled the rust-stained, half-scorched hand towel out of the vent pipe. The burn marks on it seem to indicate that there has at least once actually been a fire there, isolated to the vent pipe in which he found it.

That vent pipe ran up right next to my gas main on its way out the side of the house.

Dear former homeowners, I hate you so much. Every now and then I stop what I’m doing and just take a moment to hate you just a little bit more. If I thought really hard about you, bile would bleed from my eyes.


  1. Posted December 23, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    It’s all fun and games until YOUR FUCKING HOUSE BLOWS UP.

  2. Posted December 23, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    (But seriously, wouldn’t the gas company have installed the meter in the first place, making it their fuck-up to begin with?)

  3. Maggie
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    You have my sympathies. We’re six years into homeownership, and we STILL find shit that’s wrong. Ungh.

  4. mhoye
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Koz: There was evidence that a piece of thin drywall had been wedged forcibly into that space, presumably to facilitate the water conveyance.

  5. Posted December 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    I seem to recall telling you to check the dryer vent just after you bought the house, because hey, turns out a clogged dryer vent is a huge fire hazard and your former homeowners are just the sort of morons who would let it get clogged.

  6. Amos
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Propane? Not natural gas? And I’m surprised the meter is inside. I thought they had to be these big ugly gray bucket things hanging on the outside of your house. I’m no expert mind you. I’m still quite reluctant to invest in a dependancy on yet another utility. And then there is the fact that I have smelled gas in every gas connected house I have spent any significant time in or around – resulting in positive tests for leaks. I’m surprised more houses don’t blow up.

  7. mhoye
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Jamie: Yeah, I did that, but I didn’t think to check in the dryer itself.

    Amos: I think it is natural gas, yeah. They kind of smell the same to me.

  8. Posted December 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Amos, sometimes they have them inside the house. Our gas company just did a big initiative to move them outside (to save fruitless trips by their meter readers, since nobody’s ever home to let them in) recently.

  9. Posted December 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Why not get a natural gas dryer? I used one once, and it was the pants.

  10. Posted December 29, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    It’s my understanding that natural gas and propane are odorless– the odor that people associate with those fuels is from an additive, which is there to help you detect leaks.

  11. mhoye
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Butyl mercaptan, yeah. Does that job fine, it turns out!

  12. Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Been there. Still there. My house was last owned / renovated / ruinated by monkeys. Or cheap people. Perhaps both. Random spacing between studs in walls; randomly insulated and moisture-barriered rooms; wall partitions that must have been ‘eyeballed’ given how far out of square / level / plumb they were.

    Some recent favourites I’ve discovered: A poorly installed marble tile “upgrade” glued on top of vinyl flooring. And just this weekend I replaced a range hood that had never worked. Reason: it had a working electrical connection but no vent to the outside. Air was just escaping out any way it could. Sears estimate to fix: $1200. DIY: $42 for ducts + foil tape I already had + some screws + my tools + my time.

    Ten years ago I owned practically no tools and knew nothing about building. It’s really unbelievable how much I’ve learned in having to undo other people’s idiocy.