I was “home alone” from last Friday through today, Monday morning.
Normally, this would not be worth mentioning.
This, however, was the first time since my recent back-to-back surgeries I’ve had to do “everything” on my own for an extended period of time.
My dominant arm is still immobilized which is very limiting.
(And, oh yeah, there’s the minor issue of having a new, very energetic, puppy to take care of!)
Overall, I was just fine.
I may have eaten the exact same dish for every meal because I can’t cook yet.
And, my house might not be
But, I did okay.
Except, as some of you may have seen via Facebook, for Saturday morning.
I woke up VERY EARLY on Saturday to let the dogs out.
(Who let the dogs out? WHO? WHO?)
I wasn’t even downstairs yet when I felt the very strong smell of natural gas.
I knew immediately there was a gas leak.
I got the dogs outside.
(They’re fine, but they were NOT feeling well until they had some time outdoors in the fresh air!)
I opened all the doors and windows, and I called the gas company.
They told me to evacuate “immediately.”
They also informed me a repairman would show up in approximately FOUR HOURS!!
Aren’t gas leaks sort of EMERGENCIES?
As in, buildings blowing up EMERGENCIES?
I guess not if it’s super early on a Saturday morning?
And so I sat, outside, in my backyard from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m., freezing, and waiting for a repairman to show up.
I fed the dogs.
Then, I tried to keep the dogs quiet so they wouldn’t wake up my neighbors.
The dogs did not WANT to be quiet.
I *might* have snuck into the house and made coffee to drink outside.
It had rained during the night so everything was wet – including my patio furniture.
I sat on it anyway, and then felt even colder since I had a wet butt.
Once the repairman showed up, I led him into the kitchen where his “Gas Leaking Alarm” went off immediately.
As it turns out, the valve to my stove (which is behind a zillion pots and pans in a cupboard) had died its final death.
It was a BIG LEAK and very dangerous.
The repairman replaced the faulty valve.
When he was done, he stood up and looked out the window.
Fred was standing there staring at him.
I wish I had a photo of the repairman’s face when he saw giant Fred.
It was hilarious!
It was like he saw a ghost – !
It still makes me chuckle just to think about.
Fred, at probably 170 pounds/77kg, was bigger than the repairman!
Fred, of course, was just curious to see who was in the kitchen.
Repair Man then informed me he was required to check every appliance with gas prior to leaving.
“OK,” I said. “I don’t really have much that’s gas.”
“I’ll start with the fireplace,” he replied.
Oh, I forgot … it does have a gas starter.
Well, apparently, I forgot a lot.
He also checked: my water heater, my washer and dryer in the laundry room, my downstairs furnace, my upstairs furnace (which is located in my attic), the gas pipe that runs under my patio, the built-in gas grill on my patio, and the swimming pool heater.
I had two more leaks outside!
They were small/minor leaks, but I would never have known because you can’t smell gas leaking outdoors unless it’s a super BIG leak.
The repairman was able to fix both of the outdoor minor leaks by making adjustments to the current valves. They didn’t need to be replaced.
(By the way, the repairman would not go outside until I brought Fred in … and even then, he waited an additional five minutes just to make double-sure Fred was REALLY inside the house.)
I learned a few things from all of this.
First of all, when you get a new stove (which I did maybe seven years ago), they don’t replace the gas valves.
My kitchen valve was as old as the house.
Second, you should have your house inspected annually for gas leaks even if you don’t smell gas leaking.
It would never have occurred to me to do so, but for all I know the outdoor leaks have been happening for YEARS.
By 11:30 Saturday morning, I was back in my house.
I took a hot shower to warm up.
I put on clean clothes.
(I was still wearing the previous day’s clothes which I had thrown on in my rush to evacuate.)
I had breakfast – which was really lunch by that time.
I also ordered two inexpensive valve shut-off tools I’ll be connecting to my primary water and gas valves.
Growing up as a 5th generation Californian, I’m very aware of the need to immediately turn off the main gas valve in event of a major earthquake.
But, what if my garage has collapsed and I can’t get to the toolbox so I can do that?
And/or what if a water line breaks?
I’m going to zip tie the tools to both my water and gas valves so they’re always right there.
I don’t know why I haven’t done this before.
Emergency preparedness is a big deal in California.
I do have full earthquake/emergency kits on hand, and my water heater is strapped to the wall so it doesn’t tip/fall in a quake.
But, now I also have “valve tools,”
I feel very adult.