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How I spent my day of rest
I get a call from my younger child saturday morning. His water heater is leaking. We had already planned on having dinner that night so I go over a little early prepared to spend the night and try and to deal with it on sunday.

It is obvious that the water heater is shot and needs to be replaced. Sunday morning I make up a list of things to look for at the hardware store and off we go to home depot. If anyone cares, I hate home depot for a variety of reasons but they do generally have all the things one needs for this type of project. We get the parts and go back to his house and wait for his older brother to come over and help with the heavy lifting. First remove the old piping, great fun when it has been sitting there for 15+ years rusting together. Then haul the old water heater out of the basement which is still half, or so, full of water and very heavy because of all of the sediment that has collected so it would not completely drain, thankfully I did not have to participate in that. OK now we are ready to put in the new one. Damn, I did not pay attention in the home depot and one of the parts I got was wrong. Fortunately there is a small hardware nearby and since we also need parts for the gas connection off goes younger son to find what we need. Several cell phone conversations later back he comes with the necessary parts.

Everything gets put together and it is time to try it out. Shit, there is a leak at one of the connections to the water heater shutoff valve. Off I go to get a new nipple, hoping that that is the problem, no it is not. So back to home depot since the local hardware is now closed, it is not the nipple so it must be the valve, we return the valve and the part purchased by mistake and get a new valve.

Shutoff all the water to the house again, put in the new valve, fill everything back up and try it again, success.

I must tell you this was not all entirely legal since no permits were asked for and certain parts of what we did were not necessarily exactly up to code. Turn me in if you like.

Six or so strenuous hours of work, all done in a basement where it is difficult to stand up fully, but with the help of his brother we probably saved my son $500 or so. I am beat, my younger son was so beat that after dinner that night he was falling asleep on the couch at about 8:30. I came home today and immediately took a nap on my own couch.

I could have spent the day in church.
Edited by JohnH on 03/16/2010 02:27
You could have spent the day in church, but it would have cost your son more than $500 - even neglecting the problem of the boiler.

In the UK anyone can mess with plumbing, the same is true of building and carpentry - large scale work does have to be passed by the council though.

Gas has long required a registered practioner (oo000 magical) and over the past five years electricians have been pushed to take courses and become registered, they now have to certificate evertime they touch someones electrics.

I miss labouring and building, I particularly miss framing a roof and the laffing stage. I had many a night of coming home and dropping off on the couch.
Bob of QF
If I was a beliver of supernatural woo?

I would say...... "Hmmm"..... "God's trying to send a message, here". Grin

But I'm not....

...however. (yes, there's another shoe)

Monday, I went to install a new hot water tank at a friend's auto dealership. 17 years ago, when he moved in, the old tank had been disconnected, but not removed-- likely leaking, we don't know.

Now, he has convinced his wife to assist with his dealership, and she insists on hot water for hand-washing, etc. So. He was asking me about plumbers, and I foolishly took a look, and (falsely, it turns out) concluded it would be fairly easy to replace the thing. This was last week. I suggested he purchase the new tank, have it delivered, etc. Which he did. Monday, I finally got a free spot to go install.

Now, I've done 9 hot water tanks in my life, starting from when I was 17 years old. Gas water heaters are really not that complicated. Not even today, with all the new regs (safety drain pan, elevated if in a garage, double-wall flue pipe, etc).

What I failed to consider, is the age of the pipes in this building-- they are 50 years old, if they are a day.

His guys demo'd the old tank, which I insisted on-- if I'm working for essentially lunch, I try to get out of heavy lifting if I can. Smile

So. New tank standing in the correct spot. I made some notes about height, position, etc, then tipped it over onto it's side (CAREFULLY!) to make room, to adjust/modify the old pipes-- they were too low, the new tank was taller than the old one.

Foolish move on my part: those old pipes? Even with penetrating oil, refused to budge without enormous effort-- two 2-foot long pipe wrenches, and the pipe STILL broke off underneath the floorboards.... alas.

I had managed to elevate the cold/in supply pipe just high enough, thank the stars, but the hot-return pipe was now broken off under the floor. A quick inspection of the crawl space, and I refused-- apologized, but I was not going under there for any $$ (I'm allergic to mold/mildew spores-- pretty strongly allergic. He couldn't afford paying me to take 2 weeks off to recover...). So his mechanic, armed with my extra-long wrenches, more penetrating oil, and a great deal of grunt-work, removed the broken pipe-stub, and replaced it with a short pipe and a cap-- I was planning on tapping into the hot water pipes above-floor. Took him an hour-- just to unwind one single broken-off pipe...

Once that was complete, the install went fairly quickly-- I tapped into a nearby washing-machine setup for the hot-return pipe: remove washing-machine valve, install T, with short pipe, re-install valve. Tap into the T, with pipe coming from the tank closet (immediately next to this). Except for not being painted, you'd not really notice the change... yes, it was that sort of building-- ad-hoc pipes every which way.

One plus of this breakage? I was planning on abandoning the existing flue plumbing, as it looked like they'd tapped into the sewer roof stack! But, after looking under the house (the crawlspace door was immediately next to the problem-- another plus-- I could lean in, shine my flash around, and see what's-what). But, that stack turned out to be an old asbestos flue from an old (now removed) floor furnace. Was safe to re-tap into it again.


The stupid store that sold him the new tank, failed to sell him a T&P safety valve... by the time I realized this, everything was closed. I'll return Tuesday, install that, fill the tank and test it out.

A 2 hour job turned into a 5 hour nightmare...

... but, I've now put in 10 heaters ... and this was the worst of the lot.


Edit: Even with all the headaches? I'd take that, over sitting in church any day... Smile
Edited by Bob of QF on 03/16/2010 08:07
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
Doubting Thomas
I hate house problems. Speaking as one who has recently remodeled our house, only to get it ready to sell to someone else and now have to fix some nitpicking little problems so it will be acceptable to the new owner, I'm ready to be done with home improvement projects. And while I'm no big fan of Home Depot either, we couldn't have done all the work without them.
You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you.
We have B&Q over here, which I guess is a similar store, does everthing from tools to plants to garden and home furniture (fixtures fittings for the house).

I love walking around it, I could spend a week in there. If anyone was to leave me anything, I hope it would be a fully fitted, stocked and bursting at the seams workshop.

Id make stuff all day if I could afford to.
Wow you guys with your handy fix it yourselves LOL.

Not me I just call the public electric Company here and pay them to install a new one. I had that done recently and am still paying it off in installments on my electric & gas bill. I used to hire a plumber to do the job but now that we have the public Company to do it I choose the cheaper one. I used to hate that I had to put the bill on my charge card and then have to pay interest. This is much better for me. Some of our township officials don't like it because they want to see the local one owner business get the money but hey they charge way too much and can't always be available in an emergency unless they are a bigger Company with more employees. Most plumbers are from big Corps now anyway so the few who are one owner jobs lose out. It's sad but at least I don't have to pay as much and I don't have to end up like you Bob Wink

I must admit I found much of what you went through quite funny....Meeeennnnn you guys crack me up [img][/img] is not a valid Image.
Edited by Sinny on 03/18/2010 17:11
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