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Sunday, May 31, 2009  

Hot, Wet, and Inconvenient

A few months ago, Trash and I considered getting one of those tankless water heaters installed. We hoped that the energy saved would pay for itself. When the guy came out to do the estimate, we learned two things. One was that a tankless water heater costs eleventy-several hundred dollars, so by the time it pays for itself the planet's resources will be exhausted and we'll all be heating our water over dung fires again anyway. And the other was that our current water heater had gone so long past its intended usefulness that we'd better get it replaced soon, unless we wanted to get ready to start heating our water over dung fires considerably before everyone else.

But it became one of those things that you know you should do, but keep putting off because there are more immediate priorities. Yes, a catastrophic water heater failure could leave us without hot water and flood our entire basement someday, but I want a root beer float now.

I should have known that when the water heater finally gave out, it was during the first time in more than six months that the house stood empty for more than a day or two. When we got home from camping, I brought the duffel bag of clothes down to do the laundry, and quickly saw what had happened.

Unfortunately for the purposes of my story, it wasn't as catastrophic as it might have been. For one thing, the water heater is less than six feet from the floor drain, so there wasn't so much a flood as a neat wet trail across the floor. But I totally had to step over it, or I would have soaked my socks.

I was also grateful that this had happened during my first recapping break of the year. Normally this kind of thing futzes with my writing schedule in ways that make my OCD side all bunchy, but since I didn't have much of a writing schedule this week, the timing was actually pretty decent.

Best of all, when I called my dad to ask for advice he immediately dropped what he was doing and arranged to meet me at Menards to pick out a new one, which he would then help me install. On Memorial Day, no less.

So that's what happened. We still had Chao's truck that we'd borrowed to schlep all our camping stuff in, and it turned out to be handy for hauling a new water heater as well. I had also called the gas company, with whom we have this service plan whereby they have to come out and help with any gas-powered appliance issues that arise. By the time my dad and I had gotten home with the new heater, that gas guy had shown up, inspected the old heater, confirmed, "Yep, it's broken," and been on his way. So that part really couldn't have gone any smoother.

And I learned that it's a lot easier to replace a water heater than you think. All you need is some extra fittings, a pipe-cutter, some Teflon tape, a few other basic tools, and a dad who knows what he's doing. From the time I discovered the problem to when my dad jumped back on Silver with a tip of his hat and a wink through his mask, less than four hours elapsed. This was all way much less the nightmare I had feared. Plus I'd gotten to put off doing laundry, and M. Edium is now the proud owner of a water heater box the size of a phone booth.

In fact, I'd recommend the experience to anyone. That's why I only got the water heater with the six-year warranty. Remind me to keep Memorial Day 2015 free.

posted by M. Giant 8:11 PM 4 comments


The joys of homeownership! I made many important discoveries during my first HWH failure. The floor of the room with my HWH actually slopes *away* from the drain, guaranteeing a flood. This was disturbing until I discovered the the floor drain was apparenlty installed by an out of work set designer. It's just a slight depression someone drilled into the concrete floor with a nice shiny drain cap glued over it. Doesn't connect to any sort of drain line.
But my favorite was that I was required to install "seismic strapping" to hold the HWH upright in case of earthquake. I've seen more trustworthy looking metal in underwire bras!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 1, 2009 at 6:21 PM  

It could have been a lot worse. We were visiting family for Thanksgiving, and yep, you guessed it, water heater broke Thanksgiving morning. Ten people, three generations, and no hot water. Not for showers, not for dish washing, not for laundry. Add to that the fact that my grandmother insisted on boiling Brussels sprouts all day, and it was one of the crankier family holidays I've experienced.

By Blogger Tigerlily, at June 4, 2009 at 3:16 PM  

I agree.. One of the most common household plumbing projects is replacing a water heater. In my experienced, replacing a water heater can be tricky. There are a lot of different types and sizes and it is confusing.

By Anonymous trade plumbing supplies, at June 3, 2010 at 10:02 PM  

A lot of families use instant water heaters in their homes because it does not have a storage tank and is capable of completely eliminating steady heat wastes from the tank and reduces energy consumption usually ranging from twenty to thirty percent. Anyway, thanks for sharing and I definitely visit here more often.

By Anonymous playmobil hospital, at August 24, 2010 at 5:12 AM  

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