The Smell Of Gasoline

My neighbor spilled about 1/2 gallon of gasoline in his driveway almost a week ago. The ground was frozen, so it flowed over the ice and down around my foundation. The smell is strong. You notice it as soon as you walk in the house. I had some windows open for a couple days and the smell seemed to dissipate, but today it’s back stronger than ever. The weather has warmed above freezing, so the remaining gas, that could’ve been sitting on top of the ground and ice, seeped around the foundation, too. I think.

I phoned the fire department a couple days ago about it. They suggested I open the windows. They assured me it wouldn’t permeate the concrete foundation, only getting in the house if there was a crack.

So maybe there’s a crack in the foundation. I’m considering calling Environment Canada to get an expert to assess the situation since I’m concerned about two things: 1) Our health, and 2) the house’s value.

This sucks.

Update (Apr 4, 2008): I emailed the provincial Environment department yesterday the following:

I found your name on the Environment Department website, hoping I found someone who can provide some guidance:

I live in Riverview, NB. My neighbor spilled around 1/2 gallon of gasoline on his driveway last week. The gas flowed over the frozen ground and down around me house’s foundation. The smell was VERY strong in my basement. I just opened the windows, hoping for the best. The smell dissipated the next day, but I called the fire department, just in case. They said the gas should not affect the foundation, only getting in the house if there was a crack in it, which I don’t know if there is.

Since then the smell has been weakening; however, yesterday’s warm weather brought the smell back again, and it was strong.

Now I’m wondering if I should be worried about it (for my family’s health).

Do you anything about this? Who I could call about it?

They phoned me within an hour of receiving the email, arranging a visit to my house, which occurred today. He gave me his business card: Environmental Inspector, Investigations and Enforcement for New Brunswick.

He detected the gasoline smell as soon as he walked into the house, which wasn’t over-powering, but it’s disturbingly noticeable.

We tried to find the source of the fumes. We talked around the house outside, where the gas was spilled, but couldn’t find the spot; there was no obvious spill area; we couldn’t find how the fumes got into the house. Even rubbing our hands along the grass at the edge of the foundation didn’t turn up anything. He thought maybe the spill reached the sump pump, but he changed his mind after inspecting that – the smell wasn’t stronger there.

He doesn’t think it’s harmful, so we’re going to continue to keep the windows open, hoping the fumes dissipate. He asked me to call him Monday with an update, and to call their emergency number if the smell gets worse on the weekend.

In the end, there’s not much he can do unless the source is found. He did take photos of the area, though.

18 Replies to “The Smell Of Gasoline”

  1. Contact your home owners insurance. But you may be able to sue your neighbours insurance to cleanup the mess.

    I am assuming that you will need to excavate. If your home is 20-30 years old, good chance that it is probably not air tight. Smell could be coming up over your foundation wall. I repaired a crack in our foundation when we bought our place in Moncton and it cost $460 taxes in. Wisecracks fixed the problem for us. Get a couple of estimates and let each guy know you are getting estimates.

  2. Contact your home owners insurance. But you may be able to sue your neighbours insurance to cleanup the mess.

    I’d consider getting your neighbour to pay for it somehow — if it becomes a problem. I know a couple people who had to pay thousands of dollars to clean up oil leaks from their tanks. That may not be as serious as gas, but either way, it can’t be good.

  3. I would hate to sue my neighbor – he lets me use his snowblower!

    I’ll be making some phone calls today about it, including keeping my neighbor up-tp-date on what I’m doing.

  4. That may not be as serious as gas, but either way, it can’t be good.

    I said that backwards. Gas may not be as serious as oil. Anyway, Battlestar Galactica starts tomorrow.

  5. What has your neighbor said about your dilemma?

    Man I love squatting in someone else’s building…I continue my goal of no property owenership

    yours truely

    commarade pinky

  6. Don’t worry about the whole “suing neighbour thing.” His rates won’t go up and it is not a personal thing. That is why we have insurance. If your neighbour slammed his car into your parked car, you would want his insurance to pay for it right?

    It isn’t personal Jody. Don’t be so complacent. It your families health.

  7. I think Moon has been doing some “blue angels”

    I used to like the smell of gasoline…I have fond memories of walking through the exhaust of a 71 pontiac in the days of leaded fuel and unlimited idling times….ahhh the good ole days….and is apparent by my rants here it has had little consequense cognitively…..

    is it still smelly?

  8. Just a thought…. do you have a floor drain somewhere? Pour a couple of gallons of water down into it. There should be a trap there that catches water. However, it often dries out. If your weeping tile is connected with your street drain, it is possible that the weeping tile around your foundation caught the gasoline and the fumes are coming back up through the floor drain. Putting the water in will fill the trap and block the fumes from backing up into your house.

    I think.

  9. I have a drain underneath the front stairs, where the city water comes into the house. There’s gravel around it. The inspector specifically asked to inspect that area, but we didn’t notice the fumes being any stronger there; however, I will give your suggestion a try. Thanks.

  10. Hi,
    We have a similar situation and wondering if you can remember how many days before the smell went away? Thanks!

  11. According to his posting and follow-up posting, it was 15-17 days. However it may have only lingered for so long due to the freezing temperatures holding it in the area. If it rained it would likely have dissipated much sooner.

    I was filling my car and the pump didn’t shut off when the car was full, and I had gasoline pour all over my shoe. It took 2 months of leaving my shoe outside before the smell went away.

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