New toys

On Wednesday, as is my habit, I did the adult laundry.  The last load was the darks including some hoodies and sweat pants.  When I opened the dryer to fold that load, the clothes within were cold and wet.  Duh!  I must’ve put them in and then forgotten to start the dryer.  I chalked that silliness up to my peri-menopausal brain and re-started the dryer.

An hour later, the same thing.  The dryer had run, but the clothes were cold and wet.  Hoping against hope that it was just that those sweats were so heavy, and that because the washer hadn’t been spinning things out well lately they were just wetter than usual. . . I dried the load a third time, with exactly the same result. Although the had dryer tumbled, it evidently hadn’t heated, and that was clearly a problem.   I hung the sweats and socks on hangars on the laundry room bars and the Christmas stocking nails around the hearth, so our first floor looked like a Chinese laundry.

Meanwhile, our water heater had been making our life interesting for the previous week.

One day, while working in the kitchen, I heard water running in the cellar.  Umm. . . there’s not supposed to be water running in the cellar. . .

We

We’ve had a lot of history with our propane water heater.  It’s had issues with inadequate venting, with the pilot being blown out in strong winds, with the thermostat going wack-o, and with being full of rocks.

Several years ago, it was diagnosed with some strange malady caused by a major part or the other – not the thermocouple, which has been replaced on more than one occasion – malfunctioning and needing to be replaced.  Whatever part this was had to be special ordered, was inordinately expensive, would take a couple weeks to arrive, and would be costly to replace. Meanwhile, the serviceman said he would not run the water heater till that part was replaced, because it was not safe.  (Essentially, this malfunction meant that the unit had an extremely wide thermostatic latitude, meaning that although the thermostat was set properly and remained untouched, the “hot” water could at any time vary between lukewarm and scalding.)  This information was, of course, delivered to me by the repairman at a time when Scott was not home and my call was forwarded.  I therefore discussed it all with Scott (giving my opinion that we we should either replace the part or replace the water heater) who voted to “just use it as is.”  Which we have done since that time, dealing with the widely fluctuating “hot” water temp.

Then a year or so ago, all the black crud on top of the water heater prompted a serviceman to state that because the cellar is essentially a closed area, the water heater was evidently not able to draw air in sufficient volume to function properly and safely, and this was a problem that had to be fixed.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, since there’d been a functional water heater in that cellar for probably 60+ years, but Scott was determined to take speedy action.  The remedy was deemed to be to cut a hole in the trap door to the cellar, which we had done.

But last week’s sudden sound of “water running in the cellar” was something entirely new and different.  The long and short of it was that the water heater had either literally boiled over, or it had heated to such a temperature that some safety feature forced the overflow valve at the top to open, and steaming water was pouring down the outside of the water heater.  Not a real good thing.

I had Andrew high tail it down there and put a bucket against the unit to catch at least a portion of the cascade, but the bucket filled quickly, and he ended up using the large (30 gallon) trash can that the previous owners had positioned near the furnace when they had a sump pump down there.

Over the next week, every few hours we’d hear the beast suddenly overflow, and every few hours I’d send Andrew down to dump it off into buckets, carry it up, and pour it down the kitchen sink.  He didn’t enjoy this task, but he is a gentleman, and since the concept of me doing bucket brigade duty offended his sensibilities (I like that quality in a son!), he did it.

Scott called R&H Plumbing for an estimate of getting it replaced, and they said they would first have to send a man out to look at it.  However, being on a first-name basis with our problematic unit, they said they already knew that it would have to be a short water heater in order to keep the angle of the vent pipe functional, that there weren’t any of those anywhere in town, that they’d have to special order it, that their main man (the one who would authorize the final solution) was going out of town this weekend, and that they had no idea how long it would take to get it in.  I said, “Well, are we looking at a few days, a couple weeks, or sometime in April or May?”  They said they had no idea, but they would do some research on it and get back to us.

Meanwhile, we continued to boil water three times a day to wash dishes, alternately showered on the second floor (using the messed-up propane water heater) or in the attic (using the auxiliary electric water heater), and schemed about how Jessica – whose leg issues preclude stair climbing and who has been taking sitting “showers” in our first floor claw foot tub – would shower when she returned in a few days from a trip to the east coast.

Thursday morning I called R&H back and left a message asking them to let me know whether or not they’d be coming out to survey the scene that day, because I had an errand (notably shopping for a dryer!) to do in town, and I needed to know whether or not I should stay home and wait for them.  They never returned my call, so I went on to Lowe’s.

It’s incredible the cost of dryers these days.  In the same way that I still think a can of soup should cost about $0.39, I had in mind that a dryer should cost about $150; maybe as much as $250, but surely nothing over $300.  Not so these days.  Had I wanted to – and I definitely did not – I could have spent $1500 on a dryer that would do everything but clean my bathroom and balance my checkbook!  Sweet Georgia Peaches!  Furthermore, I can’t stand to have tools with a zillion features I will never use, and I had already determined that I needed a dryer with exactly four features:  a timer, a motor to spin the drum, a blower, and a heater.  I found a unit on clearance that would do just that and no more, so I was happy.  I also saved $50 by applying for and putting that purchase on a Lowe’s charge account, which I will cancel as soon as we pay that bill.  They said they would deliver it Friday afternoon, and while I was skeptical about that speedy time frame, I said OK.

Friday morning, Scott had had it with the eternally boiling over water heater and said he was going to call a different plumber, which he did at 7:30 AM.

Friday at noon, Lowe’s called to say they were 25 minutes away with our new dryer.  They arrived at our house seven minutes later.  We won’t go into my embarrassment at the filth under the old dryer.  We won’t share my humiliation when I made some silly comment to one of the delivery guys that there was probably dirt under his dryer too – and his reply that actually no, there wasn’t, because his wife has OCD and keeps every part of their house spotless.  We will just say that they hooked up the new dryer, tested it out (it tumbles and heats at the same time!!!), and hauled the old one away, all within 15 minutes and at no additional charge to Team Roberts.

Friday at 2:30 PM a man in a lime green shirt from DS&F Plumbing showed up at the door.  After a bit of discussion with Scott about the details of the situation and some subsequent miscommunication about pressure-reducing valves and shut-off valves (we ain’t got neither them animals roun’ hyar), he announced that he needed to shut off the water for about an hour and-a-half.  I filled the big red jug in our bathroom, emptied my bladder, told him to do the deed, and went back up to my desk.

Friday at 4:53 PM, the DS&F man called up to me to say, “We’re cooking!”

“With gas?”

“Yep.  It’s all hooked up, lines are bled, and it’s heating.”

I asked Scott to talk to the man, because I figure that things like rodent elimination and appliance replacement are always and only the responsibility of the those with Y chromosomes.  He showed Scott the details of the unit’s controls, Scott wrote DS&F a check, and the man and his partner drove off with our old dead water heater.

We are now totally enjoying the luxurious sensation of being able to turn on a faucet and have hot water come out of it without creating a boil-over in the cellar AND being able to dry our wet laundry all at the same time.  BOY, are we ever blessed with our new toys!

 

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