I noticed yesterday that I had no hot water. Per the manual, i turned the control valve knob from "on" to "off" then turned the temperature dial setting from "standard" to pilot and waited five minutes, then turned the control knob to "pilot" and relit the pilot while holding down the knob. After a minute I released the pilot knob and the pilot remained lit. I then turned the knob to "on" and then set the temp dial to "standard" again. Ater a few second blue flames began licking out of the access hole opening for the burner assembly. I shut down the entire heater immediately. Before I surrender my wallet to a repairman, does anyone have any ideas what the problem might be?
It's a Kenmore Power Miser 6 (30 gallon) heater. I inherited the house from a departed relative and I recall her purchasing the heater back in 2001.