Murphy dropped by for a visit yesterday afternoon. 4 PM is not really a bad time for visitors, but we really weren’t prepared for unexpected visitors. I would have prefered he called ahead as I would have politely declined his request.
I opened the hot water faucet on the lavatory in the guest bath to wash my hands and stood there waiting for the hot water to arrive. After the requisite short wait, nothing changed. Nice, no hot water.
Grab a screwdriver, pull the cover off the water heater cabinet, kill the breaker and start looking for a sign that would tell me what was ahead. No signs. Switch the breaker back on, get out my Amprobe electric meter and start checking for power. All circuits are go for launch, but no launch. That can only mean one thing: The heating element has gone south for the winter.
5 PM on a Friday is really not the best time for a water heater element to go on strike. As if there is a good time. Add to that the outside temperature was right around 25 or so and there’s a fresh coat of snow on the ground.
The first step in this parade is to drain the water heater and prepare to pull the elements for installing new ones. The garden hose outside is frozen to a Brinell hardness factor of a six digit level. Suit up, channel locks in hand and go outside to remove the hose from the bib. In the process of trying to coil the hose to take it inside, the petrified hose snapped like a freshly picked green bean.
Ha Ha! I gotcha’ fooled! There’s another hose on the front of the house. Murphy raced me around to the front and he got there first. I now have two garden hoses to repair come spring.
Did you see the movie “A Christmas Story”? Remember the scene where Ralphy’s father has a flat tire in the snow and he’s turning the air blue with expletives while expounding on his irritation? That’s where I was yesterday at dusk.
I resolved myself to the task and decided to beat Murphy, come hell or no hot water. I slept in this morning in spite of the fact that I have a full day ahead of me. I’m going to finish my coffee and have a pipe. Then I’ll suit up and venture out across the Tundra to the hardware store downtown to buy a new hose.
My hope is to complete this before the hardware store and the local building supply store closes. I’ve got to drain the tank before I can pull the elements, take them with me back downtown to match them to new ones, come back home and install them.
But wait! We’re not done! If you call RIGHT NOW, we’ll give you a second visit from Murphy ABSOLUTELY FREE! Just pay separate shipping and handling.
I finally settled down from being so irritated about the water heater. I had a wee dram of spirits and plopped down in my recliner to spend an hour or so relaxing with my wife. Janet asked me “What’s that noise?” She said she kept hearing a humming sound like a motor running. I finally heard it and said I thought it was the compressor in the refrigerator. “No, it’s not that, I know that sound.”
Having spent thirty years in industrial construction and trouble shooting problems, I had to know what was making that humming noise. After some investigation and ruling out possible sources, I realized it was the water pump. That’s odd, there’s no water running.
A minute earlier, my wife had gone into the master bath. “JIM! We got a problem back here!” General quarters! This is not a drill! I rushed into the master bath to find the floor covered in water. Where th’ell is THIS commin’ from?!
A quick scan of the area looking for the source and I found it. We have a garden tub in the master bath. The faucet spout is designed to swivel side to side. If the spout is pushed to the limit of its movement, it will go beyond the rim of the tub. Apparently, the cats had been playing in the bathroom, bumped not only the spout and pushed it to past the rim of the tub, they had also bumped the faucet handle and turned on the water!
I shut the valve and we started throwing towels on the floor. After going through all the towels in the laundry basket and most of the clean ones in the cabinet, we finally got the water cleaned up. I needed another wee dram, but the next one wouldn’t be quite so “wee”.
I’m fifth generation Irish. My father taught me an old Irish toast that goes “May you be in heaven three days before the devil knows you’re dead.” Right now, all I want is to catch up with Murphy. With a double barrel full of buckshot. One barrel for Murphy and the other for a cat.