By Susie Steimle

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — PG&E is trying to keep up with all the calls from customers who are just now realizing that their heaters aren’t working.

The past two nights for Alberta Montero have been “Cold. Very, very cold,” she said.

Her thermostat disconnected from her pilot light, leaving her in the cold for roughly 36 hours.

PG&E anticipates it’ll receive 100,000 calls like this one during the coming months.

“Really the first cold spell that we see our first uptick in jobs,” said PG&E field service supervisor Matthew Ramirez. He says these calls can easily be prevented.

Ramirez said, “If you can give us a call in August, or September we can set you up right away and you never have to wait for us or worry about something not working that first cold spell.”

He says most customers aren’t aware that routine inspections are not required. In fact PG&E doesn’t regularly inspect people’s homes without the customer requesting they do so.

“It’s on the customer. When we turn on gas service or start new service we do all our inspections, but once someone is moved in there it’s up to them to give us a call if they feel like something’s not right,” Ramirez said.

Additionally, most customers underestimate the threat gas heating systems can pose, which is why if something goes wrong you shouldn’t try to fix it yourself.

Ramirez says, “A lot of people don’t think of gas appliances as hazardous objects. They even keep all their cleaning supplies right around it.”

For Montero the problem was diagnosed in a matter of minutes. Fortunately that’s the case most of the time, especially as temperatures will continue to drop causing call volume to go up this winter season.


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