Monday, February 16, 2009

In Hot Water

This past Saturday as Ii turned on the water in our shower I heard this "clunk" noise. I really didn't think anything of it and proceeded to shower. After showering I tried turning the shower off and it wouldn't, at least not all the way. I played around with it for a bit, but the best I could do was get the water to slow to a trickle. Ann got on the phone and finally managed to track down a plumber who would come out on a Saturday. I turned off the water at the main shut-off valve so we wouldn't run up our water bill. The plumber showed up about 2:30 and inspected the defective valve and then called me into the bathroom. I know whenever repairmen, regardless of their trade, call you into look at something, it is never good news. So it was in this case as well. What had messed up the valve was debris from the hot water heater. Apparently our hot water heater is of the age (it's about 18 to 20 years old) where it had started to disintegrate from the inside and sending debris through the water pipes. Clearly it needed to be replaced. In fact I had discussed replacing it back in December before all the kids and their families arrived as the hot water heater was not operating very well at all. It barely could handle back to back showers. The plumber, after repairing the valve, said he could install a new one on Sunday without the weekend overtime and we agreed. Here is a picture of the old hot water heater. It sits in a very tight space in the basement inside the furnace room. It's a 65 gallon tank.
So on Sunday the plumber arrives, only 30 minutes late, and begins the roughly three hour job of replacing the hot water heater. About half-way through the operation I get the dreaded "could you come down here for a moment" request from the plumber. Turns out that they no longer make 65 gallon hot water tanks. They now come in 66 gallon models. That makes no sense to me, but I'm also not a plumber. The new model, beside being a gallon larger is also a bit shorter and stouter than the old tank. Guess where it will no longer fit? If you guessed the old space in the furnace room, you would be correct. The new tank wouldn't fit. The good news he could locate it such that it still fit in the furnace room and not block access to the furnace or to the water shut-off valves in the back of this room. It looks a bit strange sitting where it does, but it does give us hot water so I can't complain too much. Except for the empty feeling in my wallet. Our new hot water heater:

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