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Black oily liquid from Natural Gas in basement

Geena Member Posts: 1
I have searched through out the internet and cannot find an answer to this.
Furnace quit working last weekend and when we went to the basement to look at it, there was a black oily substance on the floor and inside the furnace. The repair man that came out called our utility company and they came out, cleaned up the stuff, replaced our meter outside and added a drip line outside ( right now dripline goes into a bucket, LOL!).

This is the story from the heater guy. I was sick and could not be there. The home is my mother's home and not occupied. There is a new temporary asphalt company 1/4 mile away that was built 6 mos. ago. Ameren put in a gas line to them which has a higher volume. Guess the line going by the house was replaced with this bigger line. Will it seems that with them demanding more gas, there is also more "drop-out moisture" and it came into our line, ruined the meter, and came out the burner holes on our gas furnace (thus extinguishing the pilot) and pooled on the concrete floor. Granted it wasn't gallons of the stuff but it smelled horrible and since we have this house up for sale we are worried about whether to disclose this. Also really don't think the contraption they installed on the meter outside the house is professional. Who is gonna empty the bucket?

Do I contact Ameren and ask more questions? Will this happen again? Did they do something wrong when they installed the pipeline to the asphalt plant? Is this stuff that ended up on my unsealed concrete floor hazardous (MSDS available)?

Has anyone ever encountered something like this? I am just looking for an unbiased opinion? Oh and the furnace is working again so that is taken care of and Ameren volunteered to replace a copper line going to the gas dryer free of charge...is that to make us happy and keep our mouth shut?



  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Dripline into a bucket? what? got a pic?
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,579
    It sounds like your local gas system has some design issues.
    Do you have a drip leg on your furnace where the gas line enters? I picture would help. How much of this stuff is there?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Sounds like the Utility needs to open their wallets and install some large drip accumulators on some gas services in the ground. Like yours. And have regular maintenance with a guy coming around routinely and sucking the water out of the trap drain. Like they did in cities 50 years ago that had manufactured gas.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
    If that much liquid went thru the gas valve, shouldn't the gas valves be replaced. Furnace...water heater...dryer....range? Is this sticky substance?

    If it made it to the floor then there was a fair amount passed.
  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
    REALLY?! Wow, what kind of furnace do you have? Boiler/forced air/ 90%?
    I can't imagine a condensing furnace secondary surviving that and still be efficient, let alone run!
    I would hope that the tech changed the gas valve.
    There's no way a negative pressure valve would survive.
    I'd be demanding new system/s. If it is the way you describe the primary and secondary HE's have to be just coated with substance. Thus making them very inefficient, and quite possibly shorten life or worse unsafe.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,077
    Maybe the offer to replace the copper line to the dryer was that being a vacant house the dryer would not have been run, possibly drawing no contaminates into that valve......one less appliance to replace if it comes to that.

    I have visions of this black oily goo not allowing a gas valve to close completely.
  • Larry_52
    Larry_52 Member Posts: 182
    edited March 2015
    If it is true that the utility provider is experiencing the drop out of heavier hydrocarbons then your btu content of the gas which must be published would be above the typical 1000btu per cubic foot of pure methane. This higher btu content would mean other higher heating value gases are in play and yes they could have drop out. If your btu content is below the 1000btu per cubic foot the natural gas could be dirty with non heating constitutes such as water, sulphur, oxygen, nitrogen, co2, etc. The water would be the drop out in this case. Contact your gas provider and get the btu content of you delivered gas or look at your bill. In my area natural gas is around 1030btu per cubic foot which is mainly methane.

    Or... The newly installed main was not blown clean as per a proper CFR ratio ( cleaning force ratio). Ever since the NTSB has been investigating previous accidents from commercial industry natural gas blows to clean pipes alternatives have been used more. Some alternatives can be pigging the line or chemical cleaning which can leave some moisture and contaminants. One of the better alternatives is using air to blow the pipes but the quantity and force of the air required costs $$$ so this is left off the table sometimes.

    So either you are getting "rich gas" or they just never cleaned the pipe properly. If it is a cleaning issue it will eventually go away, if it is a gas content issue this problem will not go away.