Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Honest Story of Installing a Water Heater or How to Complicate Things.

When I went to Puerto Rico at the beginning of July with its sweltering tropical heat, it was not only to see my mom, visit El Yunque and the beautiful beaches if I had a chance, but also to work out some problems in my rented apartment.

You must realize that I have had this apartment for many years and since I was using it infrequently I had been able to get by from making any major repairs. Though, I actually remodeled the kitchen two years ago, everything else seemed to be working fine. But suddenly the water heater started to leak and it had to be replaced. Summer time, the worse time and the best time to have this problem come up. The worst time because I am always low on funds in the summer and the best time, because I can do it myself.

Myself, is a misnomer because it's not true. I couldn't do it myself by a long stretch. On the other hand I could not afford a plumber particularly the one who quoted the PR College of Plumbers assigning the work for $175 (he showed me a paper) and then went on to say, but for you I'll do it for $225. How refreshing, not!

So I headed for Home Depot. No Lowe's in PR. They had several models, but my main mistake is not having gone with someone knowledgeable from the very start. Notice I said main mistake. I should have titled this piece, "How Not to Install a Water Heater on your own. Fortunately, I have about the most patient brother in law and I am so sorry I exasperated my sister in the process. But this is how it all happened.

Back in Home Depot, I thought hey I can install one of those new German water heaters that heat the water instantly as needed and they don't take up closet space. There were two drawbacks. First it costed only ten dollars less the conventional water heater and it only had a 2 year warranty while the GE models have about a six year warranty. Warranty, two versus six. Two versus six, knowing all the inconveniences involved in installing a water heater. Heck that was a no brainer. So I went with the smallest GE model. That way I thought I could carry it upstairs and install it myself. How hard could that be, I thought?

You can start laughing now. By now two days had passed, and Jairo had arrived with my sister from being out of town. He agreed to give me a hand and he installed this small water heater, but it was only then that we realized that it only held six gallons and was 110 watts and not 240 watts which was the connection we had. Jairo had to spend a while convincing, hard headed me that this was not going to work. I felt so bad for him, taking up his time and all, and he assured me we could return it and I could buy a bigger one. Dragging my feet, we dismantled it and took it back. I must say this. The people at Home Depot did not give us any grief upon returning it. They immediately took care of it and gave me my money back. Thank God.

Then we bought the 20 gallon one. Quite a big larger to say the least. We also had to buy additional flexible hoses and plumber tape for the water connections and a metal saw to cut the copper pipe. It's complicated. Then we took it to the apartment and Jairo patiently lugged it up the stairs and installed it. We breathed a sign of relief. The water heater was installed and it was heating. We thought we were done.

The next thing I know, I get a text message from my tenant saying the heater is leaking! Jairo was tired by then, so I went back and thought I could solve the situation. Maybe it was defective, so I turned off the electricity and hooked a hose to it at the bottom to empty it. It barely emptied about a cup of water, so I raised the air release valve, and bit of water came out with a rush of air. I couldn't empty it.

I was exasperated. By then I had given up. I just carried the whole situation to the Lord. I couldn't do this anymore. I couldn't pay a plumber and I couldn't continue to bother my brother in law. To make a long story short, the next day my brother in law agreed to look at it for the last time but to our amazement he couldn't find a leak. Baffled, we dried the area with a paper towel and waited for water to leak out. It didn't. He left after being there an hour and I took pictures of before and after. The leaking had stopped. I stayed for an another half hour. It was heating fine. It wasn't leaking. Then I finally left.

A week later the tenant texted to say it hadn't leaked again all week and they had been using it continuously and that the temperature needed to be adjusted, otherwise it was heating fine. So I hope that is the end of it. Did I learn any lessons? Don't ask! LOL!

Thank you God for your help.

1 comment:

Yahuan said...

Parece que Dios les ayudó un poco con todo esto. Ojalá que siga todo bien. Mi lengua materna es el español, así que mi inglés tendrá más de un error, pido perdón por eso.
Un abrazo

It seem that God helped you a bit with all of this. I wish everything will go ok. My maternal language is spanish, so my english can have more than one mistake, I'm sorry for that.