March 14, 2016

The curious incident of the orange flames on the stove

For weeks, I couldn't cook. This isn't quite the tragedy you may imagine, since I hate to cook. Still, one must eat.

The problem was that the friendly blue flame on my gas stove had been replaced by an angry orange (some would say yellow) flame. The first time I saw it, I shut the gas off immediately, thinking something was wrong with the gas mixture. Yellow-orange flames can indicate carbon monoxide, and that's not how I want to leave this world. (I'd like to be sucked up into a tornado, BTW. Sounds like a really exciting ending.)

So we called the gas people and eventually a friendly gas guy arrived. He walked into my house and within 30 seconds, pointed at the humidifier. "That's doing it," he said. Though he'd never seen this scenario before, he was sure the humidifier was the culprit. My sweet, darling, cute and oh so friendly humidifier was being called a common criminal. Oh, the fruited plain!

I balked. I said in a "you must be a total jerk" voice: "That's ridiculous! How could a humidifier affect the stove like that?" And I kept on haranguing the guy. In an instant, I had turned into a monster rather than a customer, so strong was my belief that he was wrong. But the fellow kept his head and repeated, each time I'd pause, "That's doing it." Once again, he pointed his finger at my poor, innocent humidifier. The finger was really irritating me. How dare he?

To show the man just how stupid he was, I turned the humidifier off and opened every window and door in the house. It was a windy day so it didn't take long for the room in the air to be replaced.

And the flame turned blue.

Oy, I felt like a jerk. (And let's be clear, I acted like one too.) But it seemed so unlikely. Nevertheless, the guy was right. I apologized profusely, because I'm a good-good person, and said goodbye to the stalwart gas guy.

Later on, I googled "humidifiers and gas stove" and found a zillion posts by people who had had the exact same experience. And in every case, they were as shocked as I was at the drama's conclusion. Plus -- and I find this so odd -- in each case the humidifier-stove connection was also news to the gas installer. You'd think if this was a thing, and apparently it is, the installers would know all about it. After all, it's not rare for people to use a humidifier. But they were as baffled as I was.

One poster said he was particularly shocked because his house is two stories, and the humidifier was in a kid's bedroom upstairs -- far from the stove. Yet he too experienced the odd orange flame.

Keep this info in your back pocket, folks. Humidifier = orange flames on stove. One nice thing, after all is said and done, is that I can shut the humidifier when I feel it's done its trick -- and later on, all I have to do is turn on the stove to check the humidity. If the flame is still orange, I don't need to turn the humidifier back on. It's kinda nice. And when I want to cook, all I have to do is open the windows.

This has been your Monday story. Protect and treasure it, for tomorrow is Tuesday.

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