Yesterday afternoon I panicked. I smelled a strange smell, was it gas? It seemed in the area near the front door -- was it outside? Stepped out, no, it was not outside. Was it the water heater?
I couldn't hear the burner on the water heater. I couldn't see the pilot light. Was it out? I remembered when Linda was here and that had happened. She had had to call home to find out what to do. I had never checked it myself. When I first moved here it had definitely gone out and my neighbor also came and lit it, he has moved. He thought I needed a new water heater. Then one of the guys from church who had worked on those water heaters came over and did something and said it would be fine. That was 15 years ago. It could go out any time, it was now 20 years old or more.
What to do, who to call? Greg from church would come but it is supper time and he lives a bit away. I did get down and take off the cover and tried to peer inside. I definitely could not see the light.
There were no neighbors near but I saw the red car across the street. John or Marcy or both must just have come up for the weekend. I hated to bother them so soon. I called P G & E instead. They said I only had electricity from them and I should call a plumber. I just had the plumber on Wed and it cost $100. I walked across the street.
"Is John here?" I asked, when Marcy opened the door. He was, and he would come and look even though he had had his knee replaced and he could not kneel on it.
John is a former engineer and was also a teacher. He was the right one to call. He showed me how to touch the pipe to see if it was warm. It was, slightly. I had not used the washer, dishwasher or shower all day. He did not hear the burner either. He asked if I had a flashlight. I went to where I usually keep them, not there? Where? Eventually I found them, I had moved them, why do I do that?
He patiently showed me where to look for the flame. It was lit. Who knew it would be waaaaay back on the right side and you could only see it from a certain angle with your head close to the ground? You had to look diagonally.
He explained all the different knobs and exactly what to do. He explained the yellow lever on the side and when to use it. He had me put the two covers back on to be sure I knew how. He took a lot of time and was very patient.
Then he asked for a pencil and paper and drew pictures and wrote in very legible print all the instructions. Rarely I have ever seen such patience. I remembered how exasperated the computer guy used to get when I would ask a question instead of listening. I listened and tried very hard not to interrupt.
I actually think I could handle lighting it myself. I would definitely need to use that match holder I have (but never use) or get long matches. Need to have them near just in case. Need to put my flashlights back where I remember keeping them always. Need to get new batteries for the one. Need to post this description of what to do on the back of the water heater closet door. Need to clean out the dust around the water heater.
Need to figure out how to thank John. I doubt he eats cookies. I had told him about the propane explosion we had down the street while they were gone. I did tell him about the water heater explosion of my friend. I did not tell him about the propane explosions I had been reading about recently. Yes, I am paranoid. He explained how the lever kicks in if the pilot goes out and gas should not be escaping and that if there is a real leak, I can always open doors and windows and turn off the yellow lever.
Later that night I see the room deodorizer, on the table by the window, poof out a large spray. I had turned it up the other day on high and forgot to turn it back. Was that the strange smell--I walked nearer, I think so, it was a new can of a smell I had not tried before. I must get one that does not smell like gas...