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A plumbing disaster

Updated on March 24, 2015

As a mother of two half-grown children, I had long given up the habit of showering in the morning, which gave me an excuse to soak in a tub at night. So when one morning I found the water tepid when I brushed my teeth, all I did was grouse to myself that the kids had used up all the hot water. Until I tried to wash my face… definitely not hot, even after waiting a while.

There isn’t much to check; I did try the kitchen sink as if there would be a difference. Of course, there wasn’t . The house had gas heat and hot water, so I went down stairs. At the bottom of the stairs there was an emergency gas switch. I flipped it on … went upstairs … waited … tried the water …. cold as a witch’s heart.

Looks like I will be a little late for work. I went all the way down the stairs to check the hot water heater (perhaps a pilot light went out.) I stepped ankle deep into water. With all the exposed wiring downstairs, I wasn’t taking chances. Back up the stairs, get on rubber boots, back downstairs to assess the problem. So what do I know about hot water heaters? Absolutely nothing. Just as today’s teenager might open the hood of the car when it stalls, I had no idea what I was looking at.

In naïve fear that something would short out and catch fire, I herded the pets into a room the farthest from the water heater and called the utility company. That may have been the only intelligent thing I had done so far that day. That and call in to work to cancel the day (aargh … I needed the pay).

The utility man came within a reasonable time, which is unusual for the area. A couple of minutes looking around and the verdict rang. “The hot water heater is leaking!” Duh …

The man from the utility said a new one would cost over $600. That was my mortgage payment! I was barely making it without this disaster. The darling gentleman suggested I rent one from the utility company, which turned out to be a blessing. Over the next 25 years or so, I paid a whopping 82 cents a month for the rental. And we only had to go without hot water for one day. Despite the mildew remains, the water eventually dried up.

One little itty bitty problem. They unceremoniously dumped the defective heater on the front lawn. A six-foot cylinder of what I suspect was solid lead; I was sure the $600 was $1 per pound! What is a 5’3” woman supposed to do with it???

I considered decorating it and pretending it was a huge planter or lawn art. But it didn’t really lend itself to the idea. I pushed and pulled it inch by inch toward the edge of the property, leaving a gully in the lawn that I could turn into a flowing steam. I then had to call and pay for a special pickup by the garbage removal company. I didn’t dare tell them how heavy it was, and I hid from the windows when they finally picked it up.

I once again soaked in my hot sudsy bath, ruing the loss of two days’ pay, and waiting for the next incident of life in suburbia.

© 2015 Bonnie-Jean Rohner


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