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Why Does Your Natural Gas Stove Smell Like Propane?

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Throughout life, you’ve been taught that smelling gas when there shouldn’t be a gas smell is a reason to be cautious. So, when you smell propane gas when you turn on your natural gas stove, should you be alarmed?

If you smell propane gas when turning on your gas stove, there may be a problem, but more than likely, there’s a harmless reason for it. This smell is added by the manufacturers to help detect leaks. If the smell doesn’t go away, turn the stove off and contact a professional as soon as possible.

Now that you know some of the reasons why your natural gas stove might smell like propane, I’m going to go further in-depth as to why your stove may smell like propane, why the stove smells like propane every time you turn it on, and what do in the case of a possible propane leak.

Does Natural Gas Have a Smell?

Naturally, propane and natural gas are colorless, odorless gases. The sulfur-like or rotten egg smell is added to help detection and prevention of gas leaks. When you smell gas, you are smelling an additive or odorant. 

Odorants are the chemicals added to gas during the manufacturing stage in a process called natural gas odorization.  

The chemical odorant added to both natural gas and propane is called mercaptan or thiophane, depending on the brand of gas you’re using. Therefore, both gases have the same smell. So, when you think you’re smelling propane gas, you’re really just smelling the similar odorant used in natural gas. 

The rotten egg smell should only linger for a very short time when you turn on your stove. If you notice the smell sticking around, turn the stove off and call a professional to come and take a look at your gas connection; you could have a potentially dangerous situation on your hands.

But, more often than not, the smell goes away within a few minutes.  

Natural Gas vs. Propane Gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is the result of decomposing organic matter affected by intense heat deep underneath the surface of the earth. It can be used to heat homes, power gas stoves, and generate electricity. Propane occurs naturally in natural gas, and when extracted, it is usually packaged in compressed liquid form.

You’ll see propane gas used more popularly for camping stoves and gas grills for barbecuing or backup generators. 

If you are using a portable propane stove or generator, it’s important to check the connecting hose for any holes or loose connectors, or if you smell propane for too long, just like your indoor gas stove, you should take the same precautions while operating your appliance since these things may mean there is a leak .  

Is This the First Time Using Your Oven?

If you’ve just moved into a new home or bought a new natural gas stove, more than likely, you will smell gas the first couple of times you use it. When having your new gas stove installed, a certified plumber or a gas-safe engineer will need to hook up the gas line to the stove. It is best you don’t attempt this on your own to avoid any future gas leaks.  

Once your stove is safely hooked up to the gas line, make sure that you’ve removed all the plastic and paper wrappings that came with your new oven.

If you turn the stove on and smell something burning, it’s possible that some wrapping might have been left inside the oven, so it’s important to check all compartments of the oven inside and out to ensure it’s completely free of any wrapping that may potentially burn or even catch fire. 

If you’re moving into a home that is new to you but had previous tenants that left the stove or if you are a renter, your landlord or home inspector should make sure your natural gas stove is in working order.

If there is a smell coming from the oven the first time you use it, this may be coming from the chemicals used to clean it, and it may be a good idea to leave the oven on so that it can burn off any remaining chemical residue from cleaning products.  

Another reason you may smell gas is the igniter was not able to light the burner in time and didn’t produce a flame. This may indicate that the igniter has become weak and might need to be repaired. If the burner does not ignite, turn the igniter off and try again until a flame is produced.

The Natural Gas Stove Smells Like Propane Every Time I Turn It On

If you are not familiar with using gas stoves, the process might scare you, especially if you don’t like being around an open flame. It can be overwhelming for some people, especially if they have to use their own igniter, such as a match or a lighter, to produce a flame on their stoves.

Luckily, most modern natural gas stoves have a built-in igniter, so you won’t have to do that; but, if you’re not used to using natural gas, then the initial propane smell can alarm you.  

When you want to turn on a burner on the stove for cooking, you’ll have to turn the gas on. The gas will then come in contact with the igniter, and a flame will be produced to heat up your pot or pan. When you turn the gas on, the odor you smell is a reminder that gas is now on and ready to be used.

As stated before, more than likely, the smell will dissipate within a few minutes, and you’ll be able to use your gas stove with no problems.

The reason why the smell goes away after a few minutes is because it’s being burned off by the ignited flame; once it’s completely dissipated by the fire, the smell won’t linger any longer.

If you are still nervous about using your gas stove because of the initial propane smell, it will help to talk with friends and family that have experience with natural gas stoves and may be able to give you peace of mind.

The Natural Gas Stove Smells Like Propane When It’s Off

After you’ve finished using your gas stove and turned it off, does it smell like propane? Or do you notice a propane smell in your kitchen when you haven’t used the stove at all? There could be a few different reasons why your natural gas stove smells like propane when it’s not in use.

  • Make sure all knobs are turned to the “Off” position.  It’s possible you might not have turned one of the burners on the stove completely off, even if the flame is gone. It’s important to remember to make sure each burner control is in the off position, as well as making sure the oven isn’t still heated or preheating. 
  • Check to see if any food or debris was left on the stoves’ burners or inside the oven.  If a piece of food or other material falls into the burner well or on the oven floor, it may burn and give off an unpleasant odor after you turn your stove off. Look inside the oven and on the stovetop and clean off any remaining food or debris remnants of your cooking.
  • Is the smell coming from the gas stove? The unpleasant smell of propane can be similar to rotten eggs. Make sure the odor is coming from your stove and not the trash, the refrigerator, or somewhere else nearby where food or other organic materials might have rotted. 
  • You may have a leak in your gas stove. If you continue to smell propane gas after you turn your stove off or when it is not in use, it’s possible there is a gas leak due to a faulty connection or a damaged hose, which can be unsafe and needs to be addressed immediately. It’s important that if you do smell gas while your stove is turned off and you think you may have a leak, have it checked by a professional as soon as possible. 

Your Stove May Have a Propane Leak

If you’ve gone through all the possible scenarios listed above and you still smell propane around your gas stove, then it’s possible there may be a leak, and you will need to fix it promptly because the leak can mean gas is being released into your home without any means of stopping the flow of gas.  

How Can You Tell if Your Stove Is Leaking Propane?

As stated before, if you’ve removed all the wrapping from your new stove and used it several times and you notice the smell isn’t as strong anymore, or if you turn on your stove and smell propane but then the smell goes away, then more than likely you don’t have a propane leak; these are just normal occurrences when using a gas stove.  

If your stove is leaking propane, you will be able to smell gas for a prolonged period of time; if this happens, shut off the stove immediately and contact a professional.  

It’s highly recommended to have a professional plumber or engineer that is certified to connect gas to your stove install your appliance, but as many homeowners like to save money and may be on a budget, they may choose to install it themselves; unfortunately, this is not a job you should take on yourself.

A professional will make sure the connection is secure, and if you did it yourself, that might be the reason why your stove is leaking propane.  

If you notice a propane smell that’s present the entire time you cook, or the smell is there when your gas stove is off, then it’s possible you may have a propane leak and need to take the necessary precautions. Propane leaks can lead to extremely dangerous and potentially tragic situations.   

What to Do if Your Stove Is Leaking Propane

You’ll need to take immediate action if there’s a leak.  Waiting until the smell goes away or turning off your stove for a while isn’t going to fix it.  

If your gas stove is indeed leaking propane, then you’ll need to take action fast; the following are steps to complete when a propane leak is present.

  1. If the gas is on, make sure to turn off all burners and the oven.  A leak should be taken very seriously, and you’ll need to extinguish any open flame on the stove top or in the oven.  
  2. Don’t light anything inside the house.  Depending on how long the gas has been leaking, it may have begun to fill the house with gas. Immediately extinguish any candles and don’t light any cigarettes or cigars inside the house.
  3. Open all windows and doors.  This will help to dissipate some of the gas that has leaked out from the stove and will help to get rid of the smell as well. 
  4. If accessible, shut the gas off to your stove.  Closing the gas valve and shutting off the gas supply will greatly decrease the risk of any accidents with a gas leak.  
  5. If you can’t shut off the gas, get your family and any household pets out of the house far away to a safe spot.  The gas could ignite a spark and create an explosion; make sure everyone is safe and secure by vacating the house.
  6. Call for help.  Once you’re out of the house, call your gas company to provide an emergency team to come out and secure the leak. If your gas company does not provide that service, call 911. They will be able to dispatch a team.  

Conclusion 

There can be a few reasons why your natural gas stove smells like propane, and usually, it’s not because of a life-threatening situation. Before using any major appliance, you should make sure you know how to operate it properly and what the warning signs look like should something go wrong.  

Make sure you remove all the plastic from a new stove before use. If your natural gas stove smells like propane for longer than a few minutes, you should investigate. If it goes away, then your gas stove is functioning normally, and there’s no cause for alarm.