On May 4th, I was doing some online TRREB searches in the living room, waiting for my homemade granola to finish baking. I make this granola for Julian and I, but mostly Julian, so he can enjoy it with greek yogurt and reduce the stops at Tim Horton’s for breakfast.

The timer was set to bake at 300 degrees for 35 minutes. I’ve made this granola so many times, I could do it with my eyes closed. I was waiting for the smell of the brown sugar and maple syrup to waft into the living room. I was thinking about maybe having some yogurt with warm granola myself.

Within 5 minutes, I knew something was wrong. Something was burning. 

When I tried to open the oven door, it was locked. As I stood near the oven, I could feel the heat. The temperature didn’t set at 300, but it went much higher. The oven door locked itself just as it would as if it was in self clean mode. 

Within minutes smoke was coming out from the oven vents. We opened up the main floor doors and windows. Julian ran downstairs to switch the breaker off. We waited a few minutes, but still couldn’t get the door open.

Then the granola caught fire! I saw flames. I called 911 and within minutes that felt like an eternity, 2 fire trucks showed up. They cut off the gas. They carried the stove outside.  The oven door still wouldn’t open. After 45 minutes, the firefighters pried open the door of the still-smoking oven.

We were all fine. Our house was not damaged, apart from the lingering burning smell. The real damage – and a very expensive lesson – happened when Enbridge showed up.

Upon inspection, a gas leak was discovered. coming from one of the capped lines for the dryer. (We found that out when the new gas line was installed).Enbridge told me my 3/4 inch gas pipe, which the builder originally installed in 1997, wasn’t equipped to handle the load we were putting on it. The original gas line was built to run the furnace, the hot water tank and the fireplace. In addition to those appliances, we were also running: 

1. 2 hook ups for gas dryers (that are capped)

2. An industrial type gas stove

3. A gas bbq line

The Technical Standard and Safety Authority (TSSA) is now involved. WE have 4 red tags from Enbridge, meaning our equipment is too dangerous to operate and had to be shut down immediately to protect our family and our home. We have 40 days to upgrade to the proper 1.25inch pipe, or else Enbridge will come in on the 41st day and do the work themselves and bill me. 

How did this happen? We made a classic error many homeowners make. We hired a friend to add lines, a friend who knew what he was doing, who should have known the pipe would not have the capacity to handle the extra hook-ups we wanted installed.

When the gas fitter added all the extra hookups he told us it would be fine, that “it’s not like you’re going to be running all these appliances at the same time.”

We didn’t ask for any favours, we hired someone we knew to do the work he was trained to do. He gave us what we asked for, but never informed us of any risk or danger.

If we had been informed we needed to upgrade our piping to accommodate the extra hookups, we would have taken care of that from the start. We put our full trust in the person we hired who we knew was 100% qualified to do the work.

We will have the new line inspected – and a reputable HVAC company needs to do this work to perfection. According to the law, we required a 1.25 inch pipe. We had a new – and legal – line installed at a cost of $3000. It’s manageable, especially knowing the emotional cost could have been so much higher.

There’s nothing wrong with asking someone you know to work on your home. Just make sure you know what questions to ask and follow up with inspections. Be aware that any work done to your home may require you to check building codes. Being an informed homeowner will save you money in the long run, keep your home and your loved ones safe and ensure that you are diligently following the rules.