Uncovering the Leak

When doubt finds it’s way in, I sometimes find myself asking “Was it worth it?” Was it worth the hassle, the hard work, the pain to do something when I could have settled for ignorance, mediocrity, and the status quo. It’s easy to go on with our lives the same way we always have, settling into patterns and routines. But that often leads neglect in other areas of our lives, potentially having dangerous results.

Last night I noticed a foul odor in the kitchen at the place I am currently staying. I soon realized it was a gas leak coming from the stove! I didn’t know what to do because back in Pennsylvania my family has all electric, so I never experienced this type of situation before. A gas leak is a highly volatile situation and anything could potentially set off an explosion. I wasn’t going to risk staying, so I grabbed all my stuff and was out of there in a few minutes. Not sure where I was going or what I was doing, I frantically tried to contact everyone who lives in that flat because none of them were home at the time and I didn’t want them to return to a dangerous situation.

I contacted PG&E, the gas company, informing them of the problem. They sent someone out within the hour to assess the situation, and his meter showed minimal amounts of gas in the flat. Thank God. He thought the issue was most likely the stove wasn’t holding gas, so he shut off the gas for the night.

Today a repairman came out to pinpoint the issue. He found that the stove pilots weren’t lit and he showed us how they went out very easily because the stove is old and poorly designed. He explained that when a pilot goes out, gas escapes from the stove. I didn’t know that.

He then checked the water heater, which is outside against the back of the house, and found that the pilot only lit halfway. That means a lot of gas is not burning, thus leaking and dangerous. He shut off the gas to the hot water heater and said some of the gas could have even been getting into the house.

It turns out the thing that alerted me to the problem wasn’t really the problem. The gas leaking from the stove is something we can fix, now that we know what to look for (we just have to light the pilots if they go out). On the other hand, the hot water heater will need to be repaired by a professional.

If I hadn’t smelled the gas at the stove and gone through the chaos of evacuating and calling in the leak, the issue with the hot water heater never would have been uncovered and something bad could have happened down the road. And yet, part of me wants to think it would have been less hassle and less work if I had just ignored the problem. No one would have known the difference. Ignorance is bliss, right? But that is flawed thinking and I don’t allow it in my mind.

Growing up with my dad, I learned a lot about construction and homes. My experience with managing and maintaining rentals properties has taught me to never stop improving. If we aren’t improving, we are stagnating, and eventually stagnation catches up with us and becomes dangerous, even life-threatening.

If we live our lives in ignorant bliss, focusing on fun and frivolity rather than paying attention to the signs, what are we setting ourselves up for? What are we saying to the people who don’t have enough to survive, when we waste and throw away in our time of plenty? While we’re out drinking and being merry, consumed with ourselves, our infrastructure crumbles and the structures we live in fracture. It’s only a matter of time before it all falls apart.

Then it will be replaced with a new structure.