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I live in an apartment which has a gas fireplace. The pilot fire is sky blue in the fireplace, but I can still smell the gas somehow.

The fireplace has a glass door but it is not hermetic when the door is closed. I was wondering whether it is safe to use some Scotch Tape to seal the fireplace glass door completely. If I seal it, maybe the odor wouldn't leak from the fireplace into my room. However, I knew that burning needs oxygen and I'm not sure whether it will generate Monoxide or explode if I seal the glass door. Does anyone have ideas about this? Thanks!

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  • Where do you live?
    – Mołot
    Jul 14 '20 at 9:32
  • A modern (last 5-10 years or so) gas fireplace will draw its combustion air from outside so it's not sucking in warm air from the house to burn it and blow it out the chimney. If yours is older, it will likely be sucking air from inside the house. Sealing off that combustion air flow won't cause carbon monoxide build up or (directly) cause an explosion, it will cause the flame to go out when there's no more oxygen to burn. This will allow the gas to build up, but a fair bit will still go out the chimney. Unless you're using high-temp resistant tape, though, any sort of plastic tape [con't]
    – FreeMan
    Jul 14 '20 at 14:35
  • ...will likely just melt and your combustion oxygen problem will be gone, but you'll be left with a sticky mess. Just shut off the fireplace and follow Molot's instructions.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 14 '20 at 14:37
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Where I live, it is mandatory that if you can smell the gas, you have to call a professional certified in detecting gas leaks in home installations, or if you can't afford that, emergency gas service. They will find the leak and fix it or, if it is not trivial, safely unplug your device so you could get it to repair shop, in a way that is up to a local code and will prevent gas leaks in the immediate future.

If you have a tiny leak, that now dissipates creating non explosive air mixture, enclosing it in a smaller place may create your own personal fuel-air bomb. Gas shouldn't be leaking. It should be burning creating more or less odorless exhaust gases. The smell is added to that gas so you can know when you have an unacceptable leak or when something is wrong with burning process. Leaving the real problem alone and just sealing it off is not a solution. It is creating a much bigger risk for later.

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  • The small pilot light might not be creating enough heat to draft so some combustion gasses may be leaking out into the room. Even after complete combustion, I can still detect a slight odor from the burners on my gas stove or BBQ. So it's probably not unburned gas. Still, having it leak into the room is not good. CO and CO2 are not healthy. But gas stoves are allowed in residences without a vent hood, so go figure. I'd never run a gas appliance without solid venting, but I guess it's allowed. Comments others? Jul 14 '20 at 14:02
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    Shutting off the gas to the fireplace and getting a qualified person to look at it may not be required by law in every locale, but it's certainly required by common sense! It's not necessarily going to be immediately fatal or explosive, but you do want to get it checked out much sooner rather than later.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 14 '20 at 14:39
  • @GeorgeAnderson I lived for almost two decades with gas water heater. Every time we could smell the gas, there was something wrong with the pilot burner.
    – Mołot
    Jul 14 '20 at 14:49
  • @Mołot No doubt you have to be very careful with gas. Glad they put a lot of SO2 in it so you can smell it. Methane (natural gas) and propane are odorless on their own. Jul 14 '20 at 15:16
  • @George Anderson not to be pedantic, the odorant in natural gas is a sulfur compound, but not sulfur dioxide. The odorants are usually methyl and/or ethyl mercaptan: methyl and ethyl alcohol but with a sulfur atom in place of the oxygen. It is added at less than 10 rpm and still gives an odor signal when diluted in the air 10,000 more times. Jul 14 '20 at 16:07

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