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   gas spill sensors and the danger of lightning
Tuesday, March 28 2023
My theory about insufficiently-cooked shitake mushrooms causing diarrhea (putting the "shit" in shitake) was further supported by another morning of unusually watery fecal output. But then, over the course of the day, my guts gradually came to feel better, especially after I ate a sandwich containing a whole avocado, something I'd also done yesterday afternoon so I wouldn't be so dependent on whatever food I could find at the Dutch Ale House in Saugerties. Something about the mix of toasted bread an embarrassment of avocado soothed my entire digestive system, particularly the upper parts of it.
Today Ramona finally got a crack at the cow bone I'd brought home yesterday and that Neville had been guarding. She spent hours happily chewing on it.
I spent a fair amount of time today researching gas spill sensors and the proper grounding of gas supply pipelines. Our Wall Street rental house recently failed inspection because of issues with the way its gas-powered hot water heater had been installed (evidently the rules have changed since we replaced that hot water heater back when it failed some years ago). Considering that these things had resulted in a failed fire inspection, I had surprising difficulty finding information about gas spill sensors specifically installed on hot water heaters. There were, for example, no YouTube videos of anyone installing gas spill sensors. Eventually I found a helpful page on this subject, but it mentioned a difficulty with installing a safety switch on a hot water heater: it needs to interrupt the signal from a device called a thermocouple. But I didn't even know what the thermocouple in a hot water heater does. It turns out it's there to make sure that if gas is being delivered, heat is being generated. Without that there, the basement might well fill with unlit gas. Another issue is that gas lines need to be properly grounded to prevent lightning from lancing holes in them. The inspector had suggested something called "black-coated flex line," which has additional conductive mesh on the outside. But according to a plumber who had quoted us a $750 price to bring our hot water heater up to code (seemed steep!) all we needed to do was connect a ground cable to the gas pipe upstream of the existing flex hose and run that back to the circuit breaker box.
To gather more information about the situation at the Wall Street house, I drove over there after work and took a bunch of photos with my phone and also measured how long the flexible pipe is that connects the water heater to the gas supply.
I researched this matter further using a Chromebook in the bathtub this evening, getting completely up to speed on where the gas spill sensors go and even the little $30 item that allows them to be connected in series with the thermocouple (making it so all have to be working in order for the gas to be allowed to flow.

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