12. July 2017 · 3 comments · Categories: Domestic

… In the ground, into which you pour money; that was Dave Barry’s definition of a house, which was a take-off on an earlier witticism about a yacht being a hole in the water into which you also poured money.

In my case, water and a house were both involved … in that the other night I went out to the garage to get a pan of home-made lasagna out of the deep-freeze, and noted with considerable interest that there was water everywhere. Two possible culprits – the deep-freeze itself (which spilled a considerable amount of meltwater into the garage the last time I emptied everything out and defrosted it) … or the hot-water heater.
The Daughter Unit has been suggesting that some maintenance and adjustment on the hot-water heater might be in order, as she is one who enjoys long showers. I’ve been putting off draining and refilling it, because of all the stuff piled up in the garage, stuff in the way. We had agreed to sort out the garage and take care of the hot-water heater when she comes home from California, but I had to get started on that last night, after calling the friendly neighborhood service company who sees to the HVAC unit – they have a plumbing and electrical department as well. So – carried out some boxes of extraneous stuff to go to Goodwill, and a couple of boxes of … why did we have boxes of ancient mail-order catalogs out there? I guess we forgot to put them in the recycle bin and lost track. Yes, the garage is definitely getting a once-over. The trash and the recycle bin are already filled to overflowing, and yes, we are getting a new hot-water heater.

It appears that I was mistaken, when I thought that the hot-water heater had been replaced by the previous owners just before I bought the house. No, the friendly plumber informed me; it was original to the house. Which means it has been performing heroically and without failure since 1984 – darned good, considering that the usual lifespan for such is about a decade. The Daughter Unit suggests that the old one go into a plumbing museum, if only as a curiosity.

Even more critically – and adding to the expense and hassle of replacing the hot-water heater is that the local codes have changed drastically. New installs must be on a stand 18 inches above the floor, have a drip pan – which I have to say, after mopping up the leakage last night and this morning – is a very sensible notion, a special electrical connection, and other stuff which I will have to read the paperwork to totally grasp. It is being installed this afternoon, so that life in Chez Hayes will continue without interruption, in the hot water supply if nothing else. And the best part is that my credit rating is so much improved that I qualified for fairly generous terms, instead of paying for the whole thing out of pocket, draining the savings/emergency account, or go without hot water for months.

But the garage is definitely going to be sorted, first thing when the Daughter Unit comes home.


  1. John F. MacMichael

    Ah, the joys of homeownership! Reminds me of the time (a few months after I bought my condo) the water heater failed. Naturally and of course I was in the shower when it happened. Having hastily rinsed off in cold water, I got out, swearing and thinking “Dammit, who do I call about this?! Who is responsible for this? Who is supposed to fix it?”. Then it hit me: “Oh, that would be….ME.”

  2. Sgt. Mom

    In my case it was the local service company – Jon Wayne. They’re sort of expensive, but worth every penny in the long run.

  3. John F. MacMichael

    A key part of being a homeowner is knowing the reliable repair people to call when needed.

    There were advantages in being a renter if (and it is a BIG if) the landlord was serious about maintaining the property. About thirty odd years ago, I was living in Palo Alto and renting an apartment from a Mrs. Podesta. Mrs. Podesta was a nice little old lady who owned more real estate than some voting members of the United Nations. I had a good relationship with her as a result of my habit of delivering my check (in full and on time) personally to her every month. Then I would ask her how she was and would listen respectfully while she told me about her latest troubles with her daughter or her mother or her stomach (or all three).

    One memory that I treasure from that time is when the washing machine in my building’s tiny laundry room went out. I called Mrs. Podesta ask what to do about this. She told me to call So and So’s Appliances at this number, have them send a repairman and put the bill on her account. So I made the call. The initial response was rather…lackadaisical. It went something like this: A heavy sigh from the dispatcher. He went on: “Well, we can’t get there today. Maybe Friday or it might be Monday. Who did you say this was for again?” I said “Mrs. Podesta, Mrs. Irene Inez Podesta.” I heard a sudden change in attitude from his end of the line: “Oh! We will there today, sir! We value Mrs. Podesta’s business, sir! Thank you for calling, sir!”. It was a nice illustration of the difference in how they regarded some unknown schmoe calling to beg them to fix his washing machine and a call from a major account that probably made up a significant fraction of their annual business.