Friday, December 27, 2019
We're writing this on the day after Christmas. A day celebrated by many as its very own holiday called "Boxing Day."
We weren't really quite sure what "boxing" had to do with anything until, about an hour ago, we got a roundhouse punch in the face. What fun!
Granted, it was only a metaphorical punch - our water heater decided to not only die, but to spew 50 gallons of hot water, much like a mother Hippo just before giving birth. Fortunately, our water heater lives in the garage rather than in the attic, so at least we're not dealing with collapsing ceilings or other property damage.
Remarkably, we found a plumber willing to come out on the day after Christmas and are currently awaiting his arrival. The big question will then become how badly will we get gouged for Emergency Holiday Service?
Not that we have a lot of options; living in Texas, we were mowing/mulching leaves today and are covered with a visible layer of chopped oak leaves and sweat (which, by the way, is an actual vegan salad recipe). "No shower" is not an option, nor is an "ice cold shower" because, um, shrinkage.
Anyway, with this drama on our plate we're not really able to write anything particularly incisive today. But then, who the heck really gets anything done in the days immediately following Christmas?
Well, other than plumbers who can probably earn half their year's pay on those days...
Posted by Stilton Jarlsberg at 12:01 AM
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Bummers. Regarding the plumber's fees -- I hope you don't get soaked.
Boxing Day: The holiday commemorating all those gift and shipment boxes that must be broken down for recycle, stored for regifting or Amazon return, or shredded to fit into your single trash bin for delayed pickup due to the annual back-to-back non-service days of Christmas and New Year's...
It was 68-70 yesterday in OKC so I feel yer pain. At least it was a relatively pleasant drive with my oldest son and lovely niece to spend time with oldest daughter (she's 40, GACK!) and her kidlings, aka "The Grandchildren"! Nice when all the kids and SO's collect at her house and she is kind enough to prepare food and let us all spoil the kids. (Only grandchildren, unfortunately.)
Poor niece is an only child and could not spend the holiday with her SO, he had family obligations, and her mother is persona non grata to her and the rest of the family for...drama reasons. My kids like the niece so we encourage her to join a relatively normal family group for holidays or other reasons. Never got to be around her as a kid for the same reasons so I'm enjoying her now and find I quite like her!
I can identify with your H2O heater woes. Mine was starting to rust through in a number of spots, so when my A/C died this summer, the company made me a deal and threw in a tankless water heater with the new A/C, central heat package. In other words, I aid for it all!
Tankless is a nice option. A little more than a conventional unit, but you save energy every month. Not enough to justify replacing a working model, but mine also freed up about four square feet of garage floor for other things!
When my water heater died, my landlord got a good deal on a second-hand water heater...from a local Catholic church which was converting from gas to electric.
Since, as far as I know, the heater was never de-sanctified, this means I presumably shower in holy water.
Haven't dissolved screaming yet, so I must be doing SOMETHING right! :-)
A physician I know once had the same problem on Christmas. The plumber
arrived promptly and replaced his water heater with surgical precision.
When the good MD got the bill he exclaimed, "Holy Cow Im a doctor and I don't
even charge my patients this much money". The plumber replied, "Neither did I when
I was a doctor."
One year (possibly 1989) on Christmas Eve at my folks' house, I went down to the lower level to build a fire in the fireplace. I smelled gas around the fireplace, so the folks called the local gas company and Gas Guy discovered a leak in the Rob Roy riser from the gas line to the gas meter. Gas Guy shut the gas off--on the coldest night of the year: 20 below outside, so no furnace and no more hot water than was in the water heater, and no fire in the fireplace. Somehow, the folks found a plumber to come out in the AM and do the repair. I don't recall what it cost but it wasn't an-arm-and-a-leg, surprisingly, and we survived.
Glad to read that you're being re-supplied with hot water. Did you find a vegan to clean you up?
Change out my water heaters every 20 years. Period. Whether they need it or not. Change the A/C outside unit every 10 years. Garbage grinder every 15. Actually did 'em all myself a few times, but these days I get one of my sons or a pro to do it for me (I turn 80 a year from now). Also reshingle and inspect the decking every 15. ALWAYS get that done professionally.
Figger I'm avoiding those extra costs resulting from unfortunate timing. I mean, it's the very nature of water heaters and air conditioners to go tits up at the wrongest most inconvenientest moment, n'est ce-pas?
My condolences for your home troubles. Amazing how those events occur around the holidays and Sundays. Its like they know or something ...
I have repaired or replaced many water heaters over the years, both electric and gas. Two things irritate me about people in regards ro them. One, the owner's manuals all state that the unit should be drained and flushed at least once a year to remove deposits that cut efficiency and can destroy electric heating elements, and pretty much nobody ever does that.
Two, and this bugs me the most, they are "water heaters" not "hot water heaters". What the hell do you need a device to heat water that is already hot for? Do you also call it a "cold water cooler" at the office?
I even hear professional plumbers say "hot water heater" and it drives me crazy.
I did notice and appreciate that no one here has used that incorrect term as yet.
Closest thing I know of to a "hot water heater" would be a steam engine's "feed water heater", which is designed to heat the water going into the boiler so that you're not chunking cold water into live steam and cutting its efficiency... :D
So, if you look at a model steam engine and wonder what that little tank on the front of the boiler is, wonder no more... :D
Water heaters are one of my DIY specialities! But, alas! Since I'm a bit over 1100 miles to your north and east, I regret that my exper-teasy can do you no good.
@Geoff: who reads the manual?! In any case, I curled mine up and used it to light the pilot... Every time - every ever-lovin' time! - I've followed that particular instruction, either the drain valve has failed to close, or it has exposed a pin-hole in the bottom of the tank - even on the HWH I put in to replace the one on which I couldn't get the @#$%in' cheaply designed drain valve to close.THat adventure went kinda like this:
"GE customer service."
"I want to exercise my ten-year warranty. The tank started leaking after I purged the sediment."
"Sorry, sir. You must not have drained the sediment every year. Your warranty is void."
"But, but... IT'S ONLY A YEAR OLD!!! THIS WAS THE FIRST PURGE!"
"Sorry. We can't help you."
(I did eventually bludgeon a poor manager at the local Home Depot to take it back since GE was so, so supportive of their quality merchandise... Which, apparently, they bought from Rheem and relabeled...)
Uh-uh. Ain't doin' it. That instruction is just an evil plot to make you have to buy more hot water heaters.
And the best way to understand why so many call them "hot water heaters" is because they are the heaters that produce hot water. The word "Boiler", having already been taken for other purposes and suggestive of just what you don't want pouring out water into the bassinet, was out of bounds. Why is the furnace called a furnace and not a "hot air heater"? Because the latter is reserved for politicians on this side of the dirt/air barrier.
Hope everyone had a great Christmas!
In Britain, the day after Christmas was traditionally a day for the well-off to give boxes of food to poor people. Hence "Boxing Day".
@Don in Oregon: We left all that Boxing Day/upper-lower class nonsense behind with the American Revolution! (It wasn't so much the "well-off" gifting the "poor" as it was a pseudo-feudal practice that made less sense as there came to be so few serfs, servants, and subordinates to provide with the expected largesse.)
Likewise St. Stephen's Day, the religious holiday which also falls on December 26th, and is not even celebrated now in the Catholic church calendar (except perhaps in monasteries and convents). We know it chiefly from the carol: Good King Wenceslaus went out, on the Feast of Stephen....
At our humble estate, known to everyone as "Damphew Acres", we never refer to appliances and other things of great cost by name. When you do, the name shoots across the great universe where there located billions and billions of stars. It then shoots back and drills a 6 inch hole in said item. Ixnay on the namesay. Like when Sioux and I were sitting the privacy of our own abode and innocently spoke of riding the train from OKC to Ft.Worth. Not 15 minutes later, I got an e-mail from Amtrak, aka amtrash, inviting us on the journey of a lifetime through the second mentioned city's stockyards. Ssssshhhhh.
Enjoyed the post and comments... not your troubles! Appliances all have a half-life that ends
on a holiday. MMM was seriously on a roll today, heh.. Perhaps 2020 is starting off to be the
year of "replacements"
I agree 100% with Geoff King's irritation number two. I would add one of my own. In this part of the country I hear people refer to a frequent winter chore of UN-THAWING their water pipes. WTH would anyone want to un-thaw them? I prefer mine thawed out, instead of frozen.
Having had 2 50 gal. heaters in the attic(!), we bit the bullet & switched to a demand system 5 years ago. And no more deluge waiting for an excuse to happen - over our heads.
Best thing we did to the house so far - lowered gas bills tremendously and NEVER run out of hot water.
Periodic cleaning is all it's needed.
@Dan- I see what you did there...
@Pat Cummings- Well NOW it makes sense!
@mamafrog- We had the same warm weather yesterday, so at least the lack of hot water didn't increase our risk of frostbite. And it sounds like you had a lovely gathering of relatives. Nice!
@Mike aka Proof- I've heard mixed reports on the tankless heaters, but was still sort of considering one until my decision process got greatly accelerated. And if my tank model isn't quite as efficient, well, I'll enjoy thinking that I'm pissing off Greta Thunberg whenever I take a shower. Not that I make an effort to think of her when I'm naked...
@M. Mitchell Marmel- The concept of a holy water shower is awesome. And think of the money you save on exorcisms!
@Spec-Ops Medic- There's a lot of truth there. Guesstimating what our plumber must earn in a day, I'd say he's in high cotton. And why shouldn't he be? At the point the government institutes "Plumbingcare For All" and plumbers get paid Medicare rates, we'll be drawing our water from wells one bucket at a time.
@JustaJeepGuy- Interestingly, our plumber said that if you smell gas you should first call your plumber, because all the gas company will do is come out, shut everything off, and then put a lock on your meter. Which, obviously, does nothing to repair your system.
As far as submitting myself to a vegan tongue-bath, I can't get any practitioners to cross past the Trump signs in my yard.
@boopro- Congrats on getting 20 years out of a water heater! Mine wasn't as old as that, and the new one only has a 6 year warranty. Your strategy of being proactive on replacements is surely a good idea - it's hard to haggle when repair people have you over a barrel. I had an air conditioner go out on the 4th of July, and got totally reamed by the service tech. He charged $400 for a $35 part, and that's not including hundreds in labor for a job that looked about as complicated as changing a lightbulb. On the other hand, without AC in Texas on the 4th of July, my whole family wouldn't have died.
@Anonymous- I'm sure it's coincidence, but it sure feels like a conspiracy when these things hit at inconvenient times.
@Geoff King- I'll confess I was remiss in flushing my old water heater. I'll try to be better about this one. And I believe George Carlin used to complain about "hot water heaters" for the same reasons you mention.
@M. Mitchell Marmel- You've provided the exception that proves the rule. Not that I've ever had any idea what that phrase is supposed to mean...
A great temp fix to avoid....shrinkage....is to get a vinyl solar camping shower bag. Fill it halfway with cold water and add an 8 quart pot of hot water from the stove. I did this for a couple weeks while waiting for my landlord to replace a dead water heater. It's a little inconvenient to make due with only a couple gallons of water per shower, especially since it won't piss off a liberal, but it does work.
@Emmentaler- I've heard that purging the system can be bad for your water heater. I'm so confused now...
@Don in Oregon- That makes sense, and it's a nice tradition besides. Plus, it's kinder than just throwing cans of food at the poor as I drive past them. (Joking! I'm joking! This time of year, I always give to our local food banks.)
@Kerrys_in_Carefree- Technically, I wasn't complaining but rather making a trenchant statement about the dynamic system which is modern capitalism. The Invisible Hand sometimes holds a monkey wrench.
Additionally, I don't sit on my ass any more on holidays than I do the rest of the year. I'm basically a barnacle with a computer.
@Pat Cummings- When I was a kid, the reference to "the feast of Stephen," always made me think they were eating a guy named Stephen. No, really.
@Sortahwitte- Your system makes as much sense as anything else. I will express myself more cryptically in the future when it comes to expensive goods or repairs.
@Ole Scrapper- I'm actually appreciative that the water heater didn't blow on Christmas day itself. That would have (literally) dampened spirits. Fortunately, we had a very nice little Christmas!
@American Cowboy- Okay, "un-thawing" is a new one on me, and it needs to be stopped immediately.
@CC- You make a compelling case for going the tankless route. Although I guess I'll stick with my tank model now that I've paid for it.
@miniskunk- Sounds like a workable plan. Now all I need is a camp shower bag and a very specific set of circumstances to use it (grin).
Try getting a toothache at the start of a three-day weekend sometime.
Three things all plumbers know : 1) Crap flows downhill. 2) The eagle shits on Friday. 3) Never lick your fingers.........
I regularly use unthawed water in my bourbon...
Our water heater failed 3 years ago during a 15-degree below zero cold spell. Cold air was sucked in through the exhaust of our >20-year-old on-demand water unit and froze the coils solid. The next morning when turning on the expected-to-be warm water, I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from the garage downstairs, which was water spraying all about. You know how hard it is to get a plumber during a 15-below cold spell?
You can live in a house for an indeterminate period of time without warm running water. What you can't do is live in a house without a sewer. A day after the water heater failed, our sewer line froze solid. Unbeknownst to us at the time, our sewer line passes just inches above a storm drain at the street before it connects to the sewer line. Without regular warm water to keep things moving, the 15-below breeze moving through the storm drain was all required to put an end to our being able to flush. We had to evacuate for a period of time until we could get the attention of some contractors to dig up the front yard (during the aforementioned 15-below cold spell) because we had assumed that the sewer line had failed as opposed to being simply blocked by ice. Expensive lesson.
Now we have a wonderful high-tech variable-speed instant gas hot water heater which AOC and others are telling us will soon be outlawed. At over $3000, I never expected it to be cost-competitive against a traditional heater. But it is nice having hot water that will never run out until Progressives use climate change as an excuse to cut off my gas supply.
See? I was able to get politics linked to a plumbing story!
@JustaJeepGuy, one of my few fears is losing access to the gas anytime it's below freezing outside. We can survive pretty much everything else. Which probably explains why the Progressives are now targeting natural gas.
I had my septic tank system feed pipe collapse/fail the day AFTER Christmas, fortunately the original plumbing had the kitchen sink draining into a dry septic well. For those of you who don't know what that is, think of a (concrete) tank with holes in the walls and no bottom buried in the ground. We had no showers or toilets, but had hot food and could run the dishwasher AND the washer/dryer. So, we adapted to a porta-potty in the (enclosed) breezeway and moved on. By the way, the house was built in '54 and all I have to say is two words: Orange Pipe. Those of you who know about or are experienced with it, know why those are curse words...
I replaced my Reliance Electric 55 gallon electric water heater 5 years ago with a tankless running Natural Gas, that continuous hot water is hard to beat! Had to put it in the breezeway, since there was no chimney handy and it would've been almost impossible to run a new (small) chimney from the basement. The WH was still working when I dragged it out of the basement - it used bare wire heating elements inside a tube! Couldn't find parts for it even if I needed to, but it was still running strong 60 years later. Inefficient as hell, it was. Nobody wanted it, even Habitat For Humanity said, "No way!!".
Took me 5 days to install the tankless, but TWO MONTHS to hook the house to the (brand-spanking-new) sewer system just installed in my neighborhood. In February. I was planning on doing it that Spring, it was just pushed forward 4 months. And cost twice as much, becasue I had a friend with a backhoe ready to help me that April. Yes, I've done septic and sewer system work and it's passed inspection each time, I read and follow Code and ask questions if necessary.
Good thing I'm really, REALLY handy with tools and not afraid to use 'em! And have a saint of a wife that helps me as much as possible.
Anyway, good to hear you're back in the Plumbing God's good graces, Stilt. Stay clean and don't forget to flush!
And the unfortunate name of this holiday is why Mike Tyson is never going to be invited to Buckingham Palace again!
Ever since we bought this unique fixer upper in 2010, we've been fixing and replacing. We're finally down to the last appliances that were here when we bought it, but since cooktop and oven are still working perfectly fine, we're in no hurry to replace. Doing so would also require a new counter top, plus a matching one on the kitchen island where the sink is. But that needs a re-design to give us a bit more usable space and block the sink from full view and splattering of the entire "great" room.
It will be the last cascading repair/replacement, and it's just not in the budget right now. Ain't broke, just less efficient than it could be. So priority goes to the replacement deck and stairs down to the garden.
Regarding sewer systems, I'm reminded of the area my folks lived, where everybody originally had septic tanks with leach fields. Everybody also had wells for their water sources. Back in the mid-'70s, someone in the city decided that all the houses should be hooked up to a brand-new sewer system. Strangely enough, peoples' wells started going dry a couple years after the sewer system went into operation so the brains of the city decided to put in a water system. The city's water source? the same place everybody USED to get their water from--a well. Somebody started making money off first the sewer, then off the water and all the homeowners had to pay. Was that the plan? I wouldn't bet against it!
@Sortahwitte: Seriously, dude, ditch the Alexa/Echo! As they used to say after J. Edgar Hoover died, "Before you celebrate, consider this: now he's out there, somewhere, listening!"
@John the Econ, @igor, and all: Seems a holiday plumbing upgrade is a tankless task...
(@John the Econ: may we have a link to the piss-off-AOC-and-Greta-Thunberg "wonderful high-tech variable-speed instant gas hot water heater" you chose? I want!)
In historical England, rich people gave gifts to their servants on boxing day.
Ahh yes the traditional Texas hot water tank in the garage AKA "the %~^!@~ water heater froze and burst" and the ever favorite "yes but at least it did not damage too much".......
It's mid-Saturday 28th and we're back at home base (& the PC) after most of Christmas week at the rural cabin with some of the kids. A nice week.
You should "man up" Stilt and take the shower anyway. Everyone knows municipal water supplies in Texas are not ice cold even in winter; but a good sauna might be a better way to start. And it builds character even if it has opposite effect on some body parts.
Happy New Year everyone.
Boxing day is celebrated in the UK and Canada and, as I understand it, derives from the tradition of giving gift boxes to the servants on the day after Christmas
@Pat Cummings, here's what we have: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=rinnai+rl94i
Thanks to the fracking boom, America is now awash in inexpensive natural gas. There's so much of it in fact that much of it is simply burned off. Because of this wonderful boom which has ironically reduced America's carbon emissions compared to those who actually stayed in the Paris Accords, the eco-fascists have now targeted natural gas as the new enemy after oil.
No More Cooking With Gas: Environmental Activists Going After the Appliances Consumers Love
"Environmentalists began collaborating with state government officials from across the United States at a closed-door gathering in New York this summer to lay out the plans for policies that would prevent consumers from using natural gas to cook their food or heat their homes."
Progressives wish to get everyone solely using electricity, which would make it much easier to control you. Due to the various green boondoggle proposals, electrical service will only become more expensive and less reliable. My power can go out, but with batteries and generator I can still have inexpensive hot water. That's one of the reasons Progressive want to eliminate it.
An added irony is that after infrastructure and heat loss, heating my home exclusively with electricity would result in more carbon emissions! But it's not like eco-Progressives think that hard about this stuff.
Great as always, thanks Uncle Stiltie!
Every time I hear the Jefferson Airplane song "Want somebody to love" on the Muzak at work, I substitute some different lyrics. Maybe with your comic genius you can rewrite the whole song and make a parody of it?
All I have so far is: When the truth is told to you in college, is really lies
And Don't you want somebody to loathe...
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