Gassed at the Organ
  • Gas (verb):

    1. kill or harm by exposure to poisonous gas

    2. talk, especially excessively, idly, or boastfully

    3. to be gassed=drunk

    Guess which one I mean when I say I was "gassed at the organ" this morning?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 382
    Trick question, it's all three.
  • The answer in 1. I was not drunk, I was not boasting.

    It was two weeks ago that I noticed that the church smelled a bit like gas one Saturday morning when I was practicing the organ. Yesterday, there was a strong smell of gas in the vestibule. My mother was making a holy hour while I practiced and had to leave after thirty minutes due to a headache. She wrote to someone at the church who said something about other people having mentioned it, and maybe if enough people say something, it will get higher on the list of priorities. This morning before 8 o'clock Mass, I went into the church office (I can go through there to get to the organ) and smelled gas again. I could smell it while sitting at the organ, and it was making me sick during Mass. At some point around the consecration, something started beeping in the sacristy (the organ is in the front of the church, next to the sacristy door). It went on for a while, until finally, during Communion, one of the men went into the sacristy to see what it was. When he came out, he said, in a low voice in my and the cantor's direction, "Carbon monoxide".

    Fun! I'm asphyxiating at the organ! They opened all the doors to air out the church, and I got out of there as soon as I could after Mass (when, in the "announcements time", Father said, "Thank you for keeping us between you bills and your gas", I whispered to the cantor, "Speaking of gas...").

    The scary thing is, people were aware of the issue before Mass this morning. The deacon had lit the candles next to the altar before Mass, but Father had him snuff them out (he told us before the sermon that the candles weren't burning "for our safety"). Given all that, you would think there would be no ten o'clock Mass. The Mayo Clinic, in their article on carbon monoxide poisoning, says that, if your CO alarm goes off, get out of the house and call 9-1-1. But no! We had ten o'clock Mass, candles lit (plus two candle bearers) and doors closed. I smelled gas again twice in the course of that Mass, and the choir director said she felt sick at the beginning. I wrote to her later and asked her to tell me when it's resolved, because I'm not going in that building again until it is.

    Ripley's Believe It or Not: Church Musicians Edition.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,142
    If it's truly CO, you shouldn't smell it unless it's associated with another problem. Are you sure you aren't talking about methane (CH4)? Carbon monoxide is odorless--often called "the silent killer," because you don't ever smell it--though it is indeed quite flammable. Pure methane is also odorless, but is typically used with an added odorant.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,506
    You need to call the Fire Marshall or Fire Commissioner (I don't know where you are located) so he can order this place shut down until this very dangerous situation is fixed.
  • Natural gas has no odour as well, so something is added to it so you smell it. Gas leaks aren’t something to mess with. You smell gas, you don’t even turn a light on. You get out and call the gas company. They’ll investigate and shut to gas off. These things cause houses and buildings to explode. Just look on YouTube
    Thanked by 3CharlesW Carol CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,506
    I am amazed at the actions, or lack thereof, of your pastor. Apparently, he doesn't recognize the danger here. Someone needs to impress that on him which is why I suggested calling the Fire Marshall. Does the diocese know of this? You know the liabilities if something goes wrong are enormous, especially since the pastor is clearly ignoring this.
    Thanked by 2Matthew CHGiffen
  • Matthew
    Posts: 31
    Agree with CharlesW. I was moved to a temporary office a couple of years ago while the parish offices were being remodeled. It was in a room off the main choir loft in a tower (beautiful room BTW - 25' ceiling with stained glass from 19th century Germany). The room reeked (I'd been mentioning - complaining really - for years about the smell). Eventually it was determined to be sewer gas as a vent pipe had terminated in that room when they remodeled the church in the late 1990's. I had to threaten calling OSHA and other governmental agencies before getting any resolution. It cost all of $5 to fix.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • tandrews
    Posts: 73
    Just another fun story to add, since you sounded helpless at the time until Mass was over. 2 weeks ago we had a nasty spring rain storm, and as it turns out, the roof heaters had malfunctioned, causing a huge pool of ice water to form on the roof of the cathedral. Mid-way through a funeral I heard dripping water coming from our old confessional-turned music storage space. The music storage room, sacristy, and kitchen were leaking copious amounts of water, almost like a faucet had been turned in the ceiling! The moment the funeral ended I grabbed a shop-vac and started pumping the water out and moving all the music in that room! That was not in my job description, haha.

    I was humming Byrd's super flumina babylonis all the while. I wouldn't have minded if the music was damaged though, it wasn't that good to begin with.
  • Whatever it was, they fixed it first thing Monday morning. The choir director didn't know exactly what it was when I asked her, and I don't know that I'll ever know exactly what it was, but it's good to know that they finally fixed it.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902
    First guess is sewer gas. Lotsa possibles as to cause, mostly "in your building/plumbing", not external.
  • Matilda
    Posts: 76
    Your story reminds me of the foul smell lurking at the back of our church. There's an overflow of some kind which is vented into the parking lot. People say that there's a satanic odor back there!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,506
    Probably from a neo-Baroque organ from the Schnitger-Gruber firm. Or maybe a Flailer and Hooty.
    Thanked by 1Matilda
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,366
    CharlesW ... LOL.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Incredible. We weren't allowed in the balcony during the first 3 months after rededication, because we didn't have an occupancy permit. The fire department would have demolished the building themselves had something like this gone on.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    Just wear this. Problem solved.

    Besides... goes well in the NO
  • OraLabora
    Posts: 178
    Sounds like a gas furnace or something with incomplete combustion, that is spewing both raw unburned gas and CO. The former is what you're smelling, the latter is what is trying to kill you. Well, both are really trying to kill you, if unburned natural gas or propane accumulates somewhere, you're at risk of hearing something a lot louder than the organ if there's an ignition source...
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,046
    From "Hope and Glory" (1987):


    BILL covertly shows the welts on his hands to his neighbour
    as he and thirty other nice-year-old children are harangued
    by a large red-faced woman, their TEACHER. She sprays a lot
    of saliva as she speaks. A coloured linen projection of the
    world is hung over the blackboard. She slaps it with her
    cane, pointing to many countries .

    Pink... pink... pink... pink...
    What are the pink bits, Rohan?

    BILL stands up, still seeking balm for his hands - he has
    them tucked under his armpits.

    They're ours, Miss.

    Yes, the British Empire.

    A boy, HARPER, sits in front row and is in saliva range.
    Each time the TEACHER turns back to the blackboard, the boy
    wipes his desk flamboyantly with a cloth, much to the
    spluttering amusement of his classmates.

    Harper, what fraction of the
    earth's surface is British?

    Don't know, Miss.


    A girl shoots up her hand. JENNIFER BAKER.

    Two-fifths, Miss.

    Yes. Two-fifths. Ours. And that's
    what the war is all about. Men
    are fighting and dying to save
    the pink bits for you ungrateful
    little twerps.

    The pinched little faces find this notion difficult to
    absorb. They stare back blankly at the British Empire. A
    SIREN SOUNDS an air raid warning.

    Books away! Scramble!

    They grab their gasmasks and run from the class, cheering.


    The children swarm to the shelters, which are long narrow
    concrete structures in sandbags to absorb blast.


    The children file in mostly, laughing and chatting. There
    are clattering duckboards on the ground affording cover
    from an inch or two of water. Along each side of the
    shelters are narrow benches. The children sit facing each
    other. The HEADMASTER'S steel-studded boots hammer noisily
    down the steps. He raises his arm high.

    Gasmasks on!

    They open up their cases and pull on their masks. The
    HEADMASTER conducts their breathing,. Moving his arms up
    and down to indicate a rhythm.

    Slowly... in... out...don't
    panic... in... out...

    There is a HISSING SOUND as they inhale, then a RASPING
    comic RASPBERRY as the air is pushed out of the sides of
    the rubber masks.

    In... out... These masks are
    given to us to filter away
    abominations of the enemy.

    He marches up and down in the narrow gap between the scabby
    knees of children.

    Now, nine times table. One times
    nine is nine...

    The children's muffled voices chant the multiplication
    table rubbery GURGLING SOUNDS merge from the gasmasks.
    Hidden behind his mask, BILL finally gives was to angry
    tears. He sticks out his tongue as the HEADMASTER passes

    Two times nine is eighteen...

    (And so on)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,103
    Liam, I thought I'd returned to the rose thread by mistake!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Liam