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Thursday, February 5th, 2004

water heater install

All I wanted was a new water heater.

OK, well, I wanted a new water and I wanted it to last for 20 years. That doesn’t seem so difficult. In theory, all you’d have to do is:

But in practice, water heater science is not the aspiration of most of the guys who sell or install them. Or as one wholesaler said, “Anode? Why on earth would you want to change the anode?”

Then, too, there’s the fact that California’s regulations for water heaters have changed twice in six months. As far as I can tell this has had the effect of putting just about every model of water heater on permanent backorder.

We have the misfortune of needing a “shorty,” a slightly less tall model of water heater. This cuts the selection to, let’s see… one. We had one model to pick from. So, on the bright side, we didn’t need to spend any time agonizing over which of the one available model to purchase. But it took two weeks to locate one of the one model that we could actually buy.

The new unit doesn’t have a curved inlet tube. Our plumber was unsure whether a curved inlet tube could be installed, so I let it go. That was one of my must-have modifications, but I’m all about compromise, especially when not compromising might mean taking ice-cold showers for two months.

The anode upgrade turned into a bigger project than I imagined. What should have been a five-minute task turned into an hour’s hard work — for me! Most people, they let the plumber in the front door, and then they write a check an hour later. That’s the extent of the involvement. But not when it’s my water heater — somehow I ended up sitting in the driveway for an hour with a wood rasp, trying to reduce the diameter of the plastic fitting on the new combination rod to make it fit into the new tank.

So my hands were raw and I’d been breathing aluminum shavings for an hour, and then the plumber knocked out the old heater’s exhaust pipe with his head. Which meant I had to crawl into the attic, which I hate, and hold the chimney pipe still while the plumber re-attached the exhaust pipe from below.

Sometimes I think my personal hell will be to work tech support for a company that uses Outlook Express. But other times, like today, I realize that my personal hell will involve crawling around in my attic, getting tangled up in Romex, laying painfully across studs with all my body weight supported by three or four little two-inch-square patches where bones touch wood. One hand will invariably be pressed into a pile of fiberglass insulation. And don’t forget the dust cloud — fiberglass dust is mandatory in this hell. Or in my attic, whichever; they’re the same.

While I was up there the plumber related that he’d fallen through a client’s ceiling once. I had that to chew on that while trying to crab-walk out of the passageway pictured here, eyes watering, feeling scratchy everywhere, wondering how long it takes to catch asbestosis. All in all I think I’d rather have been troubleshooting Outlook Express. Especially at the moment when I scooted along a narrow piece of plywood and winced as an enormous splinter buried itself in my ass.

posted to channel: Personal
updated: 2004-02-22 22:49:16

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