You know, it’s funny being married to my wife Cary.
Not “Ha Ha” funny… more like, “Hand me that pistol so I can kill myself" funny. Does that make any sense? Let me explain how she operates, by means of an example:
Last Saturday morning, I was at my computer in the basement (shocking, I know… try to suspend disbelief). Cary comes up to me and casually says:
“I think that our water heater might have a leak.”
I asked her why she thought this.
“Because water is coming out of it”
Hmmmm. That would be a good hint that it’s leaking. The whole “water coming out of it and puddling on the floor” thing. Now, I’m no plumber, but even I recognize THAT symptom. So, I fly into action, and Cary… disappears.
I should tell you that while I dislike the inconvenience of all home repairs, plumbing is what I hate the most. I come by it honestly. Cary and I spent about 10 years living in a 60 year old house with copper pipes and well water. The water was full of minerals that would literally grind away at the pipes. No lie, we averaged a decent-sized leak in the basement 10 times a year. We knew all the plumbers by name! Not to mention the forever moving of wet rugs (heavy!), boxes damaged, and the endless mopping. Good times. So, I hate leaks.
So, back to “flying into action”… Yes, the water IS coming out of the water heater, and the flow seems to be picking up. So, I get all the towels I can carry and dry the floor as best as I can. I get all the boxes and WHATNOT out of the utility room. I turn off the water that feeds the tank, kill the gas, and turn off the heater. Then, I attach a garden hose to the tank, run it out to the driveway and drain the tank. This last move was a mistake.
Had I been thinking, I would have had everyone [especially ME] quickly shower before I killed the tank. Because once the pilot light is out, there’s no going back. And don’t think for a moment that I could (or would) try to relight it. If I did, I know that the house would explode and I doubt that Cary would ever let me hear the end of it (she can be so petty that way). I had last showered on Friday morning. This is a key fact that comes into play later.
I won’t bore you with the details of my home warranty plan, but I did figure one thing out. If you want your repair to be classified as “Priority”, just tell them that you cut off ALL the water to your house (maybe even if you didn’t…). “No hot water” won’t get you bumped up… “no water at all” will do the trick. Good to know. So, with that little white lie told, I get in touch with my plumber who tells me that he can maybe get me a heater on Sunday, and I should see him about 9am. OK, progress.
Sunday comes, and by 3pm, no word from my plumber. So, I call him and he apologizes for not getting to me sooner. Thanks. The receptionist lady who has my phone number was apparently at a football game and so he could not call me. Right…
But, says he, they will be out on Monday. Not first thing, mind you. But as early as possible. It’s nice to have “Priority” status.
Sunday, we literally have to warm water on the stove to bathe my naked children in the kitchen with a washcloth. Like Little House on the Prairie. Exactly NO ONE was thrilled with this development. I got to help Cary wash her hair in the kitchen sink. Where we prepare food. That we eat. Yuck. Speaking of “yuck”…
I had still not showered, plenty of dirty plates in the sink, and now it’s Sunday night. So far… 36 hours, no hot water. Luckily being an unemployed disc jockey, I probably wouldn’t have bathed nor done dishes anyhow. (“nor”? Can spell check be trusted here?) But my hair was starting to look as greasy as Don Draper’s. And to quote Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Oooh, that smell…”
Monday, at 11am, the plumber arrives. He is reddest of rednecks with a nervous demeanor and the slight build of a jockey. The installation proceeds without incident. After an hour of the tank warming up, the Spewaks have hot water. And a short 76 hours after my last shower, I take another. It was nice. But, should your hair bead like a freshly waxed Buick after a rainstorm? I shampooed twice.
Monday, the cocktail hour. I mix up an Old Fashioned and go look at my new water heater to admire it and relish the notion that this crisis has passed.
It’s leaking. Again.
I notice the puddle, and I say words like “Drat!” and “Fiddlesticks!” Then, like a reflex, without thinking, I shut off the water and the gas and drain the tank. AGAIN. This is still a mistake, which I’ll explain momentarily. I call the redneck tech and say that the tank is leaking.
He asks, “The New One?” This is a silly question since he took the old one away with him (which cost me 40 bucks). I told him yes, and he says, “Well, that shouldn’t be happenin’!”
He says he’ll be back first thing in the morning. OK, terrific. I look outside to see if the tank is still draining and because of all the hot water hitting cold pavement, my whole driveway is fogged up like the “Thriller” video. The neighbors must think I’m retarded.
Prior to 6am on Tuesday my phone rings, and redneck tech is ready to go (he really did mean first thing). The fog has cleared and he’s standing in my driveway. I let him in, and I swear if he smelled anymore like cigarettes, he’d have MARLBORO written on his forehead. Good Morning. Blech.
“I think I’ve figgered it out!” He’s all smiles. Surprising, no missing teeth. “It ain’t leakin’… it’s condensatin’!”
I was so tired, that I didn’t have the energy to say (in my best David Niven voice), “Do you possibly mean… CONDENSING?” But he kept on a goin’…
“So, you see, you ever take hot water in a glass out on a winter… no wait—take a glass of cold water out on a hot day and the glass gets all sweaty-like and whatnot and what it’s doin’ is it’s condensatin’! If you take it out it’ll condensate ALL DAY!”
I seemed to recall this from 7th grade.
“Well sir, all that water in the tank, you see, it ain’t hot yet and so it’s cold, so it’s condensatin’. That’s the water you see! Condensatin’! No leaks here, just give it about 24 more hours and no more condensatin’, and no more water. See, if you hadn’t have drained your tank AGAIN, this would already be fixed.” It was nice that he took a brief moment to blame ME.
Then, as if to finish the discussion and emphasize his point, he looked at me with a serious expression and said it once again. “Condensatin’.”
I said, “Huh. I didn’t expect that. You should warn your clients to watch out for that, because I didn’t know that happened.”
He said, “Neither did I.”
“But another plumber told me about it. Condensatin’.”
And I’m gonna let THIS guy light the pilot light? Luckily the house didn’t blow up. Yet. And yes, I am still seeing some condensatin’, but not as much. The dishes are clean, we did laundry, and I smell as fresh as a daisy.
When I paid the tech, I wrote something in the memo line of the check.
I wrote PLUMBIN’.