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Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC/Home wall heater (Gas) making high-pitched ringing noise.

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Question
Good morning,

We have a double-sided wall heater that just recently began to make high-pitched ringing/whining noise when idle. I do not smell any gas yet. The unit is approximately 6 years old. I vacuum it out every season prior to winter. I am writing from work so I do not have the manufacturers info. I am concerned right now and cannot really do anything about it from here other than to tell those at home to shut off the pilot light for now. Should I?
Thank you.

Answer
Hello, this can be quite disconcerting,however rest assured if it is natural gas it will vent harmlessly out the flue,propane is another subject as it is heavier than air and will not vent,it will settle into a low spot and not disburse readily as will natural gas.
Back in the old days a pilot light was a hand valve just like a garden hose bib,it was open or closed and there was nothing in regards to a thermocouple for the pilot valve's operation as it was 100% manual. What happens with natural gas,if the pilot light blew out,the gas will rise and vent out the flue. It is not optimal,however really not too dangerous either.
Clearly a thermocouple or other pilot flame proving technology is optimal,I mention this to relieve your anxiety regarding this units status if a small leak has occurs in a diaphragm inside the gas valve, this is what I suspect by your observations.
Utilities will test your unit for a gas leak for no charge, they also can red tag the equipment, and disable the unit until repaired/replaced. I would not sleep with it on or leave it on if going out,however otherwise I myself would continue to use the unit if required, keeping an eye on it while doing so. I would turn it off for peace of mind if it bothers you, a gas leak will be evident by the smell generally by most persons exposed to small amounts of natural gas.
I hope this helps you, if I have overlooked anything please  respond with any questions and I will do my best to answer you.
Thank you for the question.  

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