Two steps forward……slip, trip and fail!

Life off the grid….not entirely unlike life ON the grid recently.

My water system froze and broke during the cold snap. Given the expertise and skill I implicitly claim by writing an OTG blog, I am embarrassed. Woe is me. I did NOT prepare properly. Perhaps I have some Texan DNA in me?

Nevertheless, plans are afoot for repairing and upgrading the house water system. A new tankless, on-demand water heater is in transit and I am no longer going to rely exclusively on heat tapes and insulation-wrap to save my system. I am gonna build a small, outdoor, insulated closet/half-room in which to install all the vulnerable parts and it will be easily heated by a small propane gas heater or, more likely something even smaller. Oh yeah….upscale!

To be fair to my inner doofus, the heat tape around the old Bosch demand heater failed. Shorted out. As Sal and I were attempting to sleuth out the problem when it occurred, Sal got a shock from touching the tape. If it shorts out, it doesn’t heat up. If it doesn’t heat up, the vulnerable parts in the unit freeze up and then crack. That is not good.

In theory, I should be able to take out the old unit, diagnose and repair it and then reinstall it. That’s the theory, anyway. But, well……the unit is 12 years old. It is currently positioned outdoors exposed to the cold (nice roof over it, tho). It could really use a good checking over, I know of some parts in need of replacement and it never really had the juice to make the water really hot except in the summer. It was only 117,000 btus. The new one coming is 150,000 btus and it includes a built-in ‘freeze’ protection heater. And, since the whole system will all be kept warmer in the ‘little insulated room’, the water should be just that much hotter at the tap as well.

The repair theory also requires that I know what I am doing when disassembling the old unit and I do not. The principle is simple enough…..pressure cold water comes in and ‘charges’ the unit. When the pressure is released by the tap turning on, the gas is also let in, the pilot light creates a controlled but larger burn and the water passes all around the fire in coiled copper tubes. That heated water leaves and heads for the tap. Simple. But the miniature parts and wires and valves all included in the inner workings have specifications, tolerances and very strange shapes and parts. My inner Bosch is a complicated metal kidney, bladder, pipe and control valve all in one. With gas!

We are all personally familiar with similar but organic versions of that system and, when we encounter problems with water flow, well, the pressure is really on to get it all fixed rather quickly. I really do not have the time to sit around scratching my head on this. I have to get the replacement unit in and working as quickly as possible. Learning about brass kidneys will have to wait.

It is February 17th. If the mail hurries, I might get the new unit by maybe the 25th. You can see where this going…..right……? We are likely to still be using the pitcher-and-basin method for personal hygiene well into March. The good news: the heat tape that failed was on the water heater. Our cold water supply is good. We’ll be fine…..

….so we’ll try to get the logs up in the meantime…..

7 thoughts on “Two steps forward……slip, trip and fail!

  1. This weather bomb has hit hard all over Canada and points south. Texas is frozen up. People are skiing on the streets in Portland. You have the right team to flourish in diversity. Go team!


    • You are right. We are good. And my heat tape solution should have been sufficient….but…it was NOT. So I will make it better. And then it will be fine and Murphy will have to fine another place to fiddle around.
      Which, as we all know, he will find a new weakness and have a hay day….oh, well….


  2. I have one of those heat-on-demand thingies. Great, when they work! Mine has the tendency to provide hot water until you’re all soaped up. Then, without warning, it abruptly turns cold. Not every time and not the end of the world in the summer. But frequently enough that one dreads taking a shower in the Winter. And, without fail (so far), it spews out super hot water 4 minutes and 30 seconds later. They blamed it on the quality of the water, but two $200 tests later it was THAT was not the problem. Then they claimed it was the flowmeter. Changed that, and it happens less frequently, but I still shower with trepidation.

    But, It’s Sally’s Birthday! Have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAL! and leave the logs for another day!


  3. Sal’s Birthday? Happy Birthday.
    Dave, I hope you’re boiling up pots and pans of water so she can have a long hot bath.
    “Hot water on demand” as it were.


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