Friday, July 19, 2013

Adventures in Hot Water

You know I've actually got a few other blog posts written, I just didn't post them because I didn't have a picture I need or something. This weekend I really need to catch up on that. But for today in July, let's cover what happened yesterday.

So Thursday started off normally: woke up, went to the bathroom, started getting dressed for work, and spotted a trail of water between the toilet and the tub. "Oh, no what's happened to the toilet?" But the water trail continued behind the toilet to the water heater next to it. Here's the floor plan that I'm working with currently. The water heater is more circular than what I drew.

The water was seeping out of the bottom seam of the tank and dripping to the floor; not exploding like the Allstate commercial. I turned the water to the heater off, stopping the drip, and consulted the reference books and Internet. Everything agreed that unless you see the leak in the connections or the T&P Relief Valve, your tank was screwed and you had to buy a new one. Oh and you should drain it every six months or once a year to get rid of gunk collecting on the bottom. Guess what I have never done after it was installed in 2000?

So I call in to the paying job that I will be out dealing with the crisis. No leaks on any of the connections to the top. While I waited for daylight to find a hose to drain the tank, I emptied and moved the freestanding cabinet between the water heater and the door so it's out of the way. Then I had a "wait when was the last time I threw out stuff from the bathroom" moment, that I curtailed before it sidelined the make a path to the water heater project. Plenty of time to throw stuff away when I move it back in.

About 7:30 a.m., the sun was up enough that I took a yoga mat and looked at the pipes under the house. The advantage to having an off-the-ground house: easy access to plumbing. The disadvantage: still managing to get your butt wet when lying on the yoga mat in the dewy grass to look at said plumbing. Near as I could see, everything was bone dry under the house. So I grabbed the only loose hose I found in the yard, connected it to the drain valve, ran it to the bathtub, and followed all the directions to drain the water hater tank.

Nothing came out of the hose.

The water heater held forty gallons of water. Even though the leak had stopped without new water coming in, forty gallons had not leaked out. Heck, I don't think a gallon leaked out at that point. I double-checked the directions. Still no water. Around 9:30 a.m., I went to Uncle Scott and asked what did he know about water heaters.

He went over everything I had already checked off, but added new bits of information. He had unhooked the hose I was using because it had gotten clogged with something and forty gallons of hot water water was too much for a single person. Mom discovered what was going on when she spotted us looking back under the house again.

His first idea was the T&P valve had went off, but the excess water hit the floor instead of the drain. Nope, it worked like it was supposed to. Second idea was sediment had blocked the drain. We finally got a trickle of water to come out along with rust and some shell-like substance. Third idea was the leak was coming from the shut-off valve and running down between the tank and the shell. We close everything up, tighten the shut-off valve, and turn on the water. The water resumes welling up at the bottom seam.

"I think you're right. You need a new water heater."

So Mom and I went to lunch and bought a new water heater. Keeping in mind that forty gallons is too much for one person, I downgraded to a twenty-eight gallon unit made by Whirlpool. Putting in a tankless system was out of price range, and neither was redoing the plumbing to put it in a different position. Unfortunately, the twenty-eight gallon water heater has the same diameter as the old forty-gallon one just shorter. Which Mom and me both didn't realize, so I had to make a second run to Lowe's for longer pipes to make the connections to the existing plumbing.

But before that part, we had to move the old heater out of the bathroom with most of the forty gallons still inside it because it won't drain. Girls and boys, water is heavy. We finally get it to my back door with the dolly (and after pausing to go air up the dolly's tires again). Uncle Scott huffed. "If your car wasn't there, I'd pitch this down the steps.

"I can move my car." I grabbed the keys and backed the car away from my back porch. Before I can return to help get the water heater out the door, it flew from the door, hit the concrete porch, and gushed water all over the driveway.

"It pitched itself," Uncle Scott said once we both reached the back porch. It also took out a chunk of my concrete step when it hit it, and broke off it's drain valve. Without the valve, the tank gushed all the water it was holding all over the grass. We let it drain while we put in the new one.

So now I have a new hot water heater, icky stuff is still draining out of the old one (we've reached a slime status, I don't want ton know what it is), and have a load of stuff to take back to Lowe's that it turns out we didn't need. There's no way for a drip pan to fit in that corner of the bathroom, hell, the heater barely fits. And I'm trying not to be snarky to people who point out that it's short enough for me to put shelves over it when I don't want it in the bathroom at all so I can have a straight hallway wall with a pocket door.

All for the sake of hot water.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

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