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Suddenly my gas range/stove emits a kerosene-like odor when I operate the stove, and especially when I operate the oven -- but our service is natural gas.

I called the local gas utility, and they sent a tech out. The tech said there were no leaks. He inspected all around the house, replaced the service meter (the old one was vintage 1981) and poked around with a sniffer to look for, I presume, underground leaks.

He asked if I had painted or cleaned anything lately. I haven't. No paint, no cleaners, etc. I did clean the range top about a week ago, but I used the same stuff I always use and have never had this gas-like smell before. Furthermore I have not cleaned the oven.

The scent is nauseatingly strong when I operate the oven, but still present when I only operate the range.

I read on some forums that the oven igniter might be bad, but all the stove burners and the oven light quickly as they always have.

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How new is the appliance? –  dbracey Aug 21 '12 at 23:10
    
@dbracey 5 years. And never had a problem before now. –  JeffG Aug 21 '12 at 23:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

For an accummulation of gas, you would smell rotten eggs. I suspect something spilled on the floor under the appliance, or something plastic fell back behind it.

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Would the area underneath the range immediately get warm when a single stover burner, alone, was burning on med-low? –  JeffG Aug 21 '12 at 23:16
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Perhaps something spilled or fell under the range-top cover. Often those lift up for cleaning access. How old is the appliance? Is it new or old? Do you have any other gas appliances that emit this smell? –  dbracey Aug 21 '12 at 23:19
    
It's a GE 5 burner sealed burner conventional oven/range. The cover seems immovable. I'm sure nothing was spilled. I'm starting to wonder if the gas company has increased the mercaptan levels. –  JeffG Aug 22 '12 at 1:24
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You won't smell the mercaptan while the burners are burning - it gets combusted. –  dbracey Aug 22 '12 at 2:37
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I'll mark this one as the correct answer because of misleading info in the question, and this one was sorta on the right track. So, what happened is that under my kitchen sink, I had a very minor leak which lead to the bottom of a can of mineral spirits RUSTING OUT. They were low-odor spirits, so only faint, but the entire area under the sink was wet with spirits -- even a sopping rag. I'm certain the volatile spirits which were concealed less than 6 feet from the stove must be to blame. I have cleaned out the area. Thanks for your help! –  JeffG Aug 25 '12 at 1:18

What is happening is called product of combustion. Somewhere around in the house or near the house someone used or opened some sort of stain, paint, varnish or comparable compound including cleaners. The molecules carry over and get mixed in with air and then burned off from open flame. If you light a candle or a lighter you will smell the same odor, although not quite as strong- the bigger the flame the stronger the odor. The odor will dissipate over the next few days until there are no more molecules from the source left in the air.

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I agree with the answer here. I did some wood staining downstairs today and I noticed when I started cooking upstairs it smelled funny; not the natural gas smell, but rather something like burned stale fuel smell. Very interesting that these molecules will stick around in the air and then somehow get burned off by the stove burners. Thanks for the info! –  pete Dec 4 at 4:54

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