Oh, frabjous day!

It’s turning out to be one of those days.  I’m working on the climactic, second-last chapter of my latest novel, writing the main battle sequence, when:

  1. My cellphone dies – the battery will no longer hold a charge.  So, it’s off to the cellphone store as soon as I finish writing these words.
  2. The hot water heater begins leaking.  Plumber ahoy!  They can come out on Monday, but that’s going to be a few hundred dollars down the drain for a new heater plus installation charges.
  3. I now have to move around a large part of the contents of the garage this weekend, to allow the plumber to get at the hot water heater.

Writing?  What writing?  And who says life is boring?



  1. Hey Peter, first off, your website is one of the first I visit daily. Next, Where the heck are you finding a water heater, with installation, for a few hundred $$$? The installation alone will likely be a few hundred $$$. As I am sure you know, they are pretty easy to replace yourself, either electric or gas. Anyway keep up the good work….

  2. Here in the SF Bay Area, it is usually a better deal to have a H2o heater obtained and installed by a specialist. They get pricing lower than you can get from the stores, and their labor cost brings the total to about what just the heater would cost you, or close enough. These people do nothing but heaters, they are not regular plumbers. They stock the typical heaters in their box trucks, but can pick up others at the warehouse.

    BTW, does your city/county require a permit for this installation? IIRC, filing for the inspection was part of the job. Unfortunately, new code reqs add to the costs. Hammer tank, catch pans, and plumbing drains for same.

  3. "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans." ~ John Lennon

    You've managed to run afoul of several corollaries of Murphy's Law at the same time. There's probably a rule for that, too. 🙁

  4. Our 23 year old hot water heater died this month. We replaced it with a tankless on demand system. You may want to look at that for the long term savings.


  5. I truly hope, during all this mess, an angel doesn't appear at your doorway with a Christmas tree asking you where he can stick it 🙂

  6. If you're on a well check the water pH. A little too acidic will eat up the water heater and the water fittings in the house. If acidic water, put in an acid neutralizer. Ask me how I know.

  7. Had the water heater spring a leak last year a week or two before Christmas. Perfect timing. Truck happened to be down so I had to bum a ride and truck to the nearest Lowes or Home Depot which is about 90 minutes each way. While I'm waiting another 30 minutes in the pick-up line for them to fetch the water heater and fittings they assured me were at the door and ready to be picked up, my wife calls and tells me she's on her way to the ER with a broken wrist. Lovely day that one. On the plus side, the installation was mercifully uneventful.

    I realize now probably isn't the time to do it but do look into a tankless model a couple of years from now. I'm putting away a few bucks here and there for one myself. This was the last tank model I intend to buy. I'll install an on demand propane model after this one dies. No sense in paying to heat and store hot water I might use 3 times a day and go a dozen or more hours between uses. Only way I'll be using a tank system is when I get an outdoor wood boiler system. I'll heat water with it in the winter as well as the house and just use the tankless heater in summer.

  8. Pro tip: what kills tank-style water heaters is the death of the sacrificial anode rod. There's an anode rod inside the heater that is designed to be eroded over time, sacrificing itself to save the inside of the heater. When the anode rod is sufficiently dissolved to no longer offer protection to the tank lining, electrolysis begins attacking the tank, resulting in an unrepairable leak within a few years.

    Cheap water heaters have the anode rod in the water inlet, requiring removal of the inlet piping to replace the rod; quite a few cheaper weater heaters have no replacement rod available from the manufacturer – it's "one and done." Good water heaters have the anode rod accessible through a separate sealed, threaded access point. The heater will have to be shut off, inlet and outlet valves closed, and internal pressure released by draining off a few gallons of water before removing the rod plug, but that's a 5-minute task.

    If you're committed to tank-style water heaters, get one with an easily accessible anode, buy a few spare anodes when you buy the heaters, and replace the rod every 3-5 years (frequency depends on water quality and content).

    FYI, RE: tankless water heaters – terrific gizmos, but you'll enjoy one much more if a small (4-8 gallon) electric tank-style heater is installed between the tankless and point(s) of use. Because tankless heaters start from "full cold" when a faucet is opened to demand hot water, it's an extra 20-30 seconds to get hot water at the fixture. Having a small supply of already hot water ready for delivery negates that inconvenience (a 2-4 gallon 120 volt small tank at each point of use turns out to be the best solution, but unless electricity was provided for under the sink during construction it's usually cost prohibitive to perform such a retrofit).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *