Worrisome smell coming from old gas oven

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Old 11-29-09, 10:01 PM
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Worrisome smell coming from old gas oven

Hi, and thanks in advance for any help!

I rent an apartment in a building in L.A. that dates back to the mid-60s. My oven, by the looks of it, may be the original. It is an O'Keefe and Merritt with some fantastic 60s-era design touches on the front. In my search for a model number, I honed in on a metal plate screwed in to the inside bottom surface which may have once included printed text, but at this point all that remain are some engraved numbers:

1015
128648
18000

And also the letters "NAT". I hope that helps to identify the oven.

I've been in the apartment for seven years. Starting about two years ago, I began smelling a cloud of odor in the general vicinity a few feet out in front of the oven. I opened the oven and sniffed inside and it was even stronger. During this whole time, the oven's pilot light has reliably been lit and burning. I don't use the oven often (literally maybe once a month), and the smell exists whether I've used it recently or not in weeks.

The smell is kind of pungent, unpleasant but not gag-worthy. It sort of has that rotten-eggs gas smell, so not long after it started I had the Gas Company come out and test for a leak. The guy said he detected no leak but wasn't sure what it was -- perhaps the smell of the pilot singeing the metal 24/7.

Still, I'm concerned about what it might be. Part of what concerns me is how it appeared after years of not being there. I became more concerned when I did some reading and saw there could be other factors at play than simply a gas leak. Do you have any idea what it could be? Would you recommend a certain course of action to help figure it out? I plan on speaking to my landlord about it and could use some informed input before doing so.

Thanks very much. Oh, and if those engraved numbers didn't do the trick in identifying the type of oven, I can also take a picture and send it in. It's a brown model with a main upper compartment and a bottom broiler, a U-shaped flame below, a mechanically-wound clock on front with the cursive words "Signal Timer" underneath it. Matches the range top too. :-)
 
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Old 11-29-09, 10:25 PM
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pictures

I just realized how to do this, so for the benefit of my post, here are some pictures of the oven and the bottom broiler compartment with burner off, pilot on.





Hope that works!

And one more small detail. I thought that cleanliness might be an issue at one point, so I scrubbed the inside of the oven thoroughly, wiped the metal shield above the burner, even took off the bottom panel and cleaned up some of the food debris that had fallen down below long ago. Problem continued.

(and fyi, I've been trying to make those images work, don't know if they are or not...)
 
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Old 12-05-09, 12:19 PM
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Hi, pardon the bump, but was concerned my previous reply to my own message may have made it look on the forum display page like I'd heard back from somebody already. Still hopeful to hear your advice on this as I'd like to take it up with my landlord soon. Thank you!
 
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Old 12-05-09, 04:28 PM
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Since the Gas co has already been there....this sounds like a classic case of "aldehydes", meaning one of the pilots is impinging on the metal above it. This typically causes soot and the odor you have described. Are you in No or So cal. I think another call to the Gas co is in order. Please understand this is merely a guess on my part. Could even be a by-passing valve, allowing just a bit of gas to escape.
Your pics don't open
 
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Old 12-17-09, 06:26 PM
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Thanks mbk3 for your reply. I live in L.A., in answer to your question.

I had a technician from the Gas Co. come out today and check it out again. He confirmed it wasn't gas, and said indeed it was aldehydes building up from the heat of the pilot light. He said the piece of metal called the spreader (?) was slightly bent down above the pilot, causing it to get more heat than it should. He recommended reshaping or replacing it. I'm following up with my landlord.

Appreciate your guidance. Looks like your instincts were spot on. Sorry about problem with photos -- couldn't figure out how to post right! And I'll pick an emoticon for that... Not even sure if THAT'S gonna insert right!
 
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