Old Stone House

Water Heater Woes

May 19, 2009

Filed under: Day to Day,Energy Savings @ 4:20 pm

Last weekend our water heater sprang a leak. Not a big leak, but a leak none the less. The water heater was a rental so we phoned the utility company. They dispatched a local representative who came out to the house in a matter of hours, assessed the problem, and informed us that they would replace the unit – scheduling an appointment for the next morning. The rep. was good enough to note that the venting on old water heater would no longer meet code for a new unit, and it would need to be replaced. He explained that ‘his guys’ would replace the venting – and charge me dearly for it – or I could replace it myself. I told him I would do it myself, and thanked him for the heads-up.

I visited the DIY store that same day and purchased some lengths of 636 pipe and assorted fittings, and spent the rest of the afternoon ripping out the old vent and replacing it with the new.

The next day came and went and no one arrived at the house. I phoned the utility company and they explained that they had no record of a service appointment having been made. They apologized for the confusion, and immediately booked an appointment for the following afternoon.

That next day I stayed home from work and waited for the repair person to arrive. They never did. I again phoned the utility company and asked for an explanation. According to their notes the repair person arrived at our door at the scheduled time and attempted to phone us, but did not receive and answer. They subsequently canceled the appointment. (Admittedly, there was a ‘unknown caller’ record on our phone)

I was a little more than irate that they hadn’t bother to knock, and made it clear that I was unhappy. The utility rep on the other side of the phone was gracious and understanding (I later apologized to them) and booked another appointment for me the following morning at 7:00 a.m. – with explicit instructions to knock.

The next morning the repairmen arrived on time and followed me to the basement. They immediately praised the new venting, explaining it was ‘perfect’ and thanking me for making their job much easier. No sooner had they patted me on the back when the the one gentleman asked what type of glue I used?

I handed then the container of the 636 glue and he immediately told me I had used the wrong glue. He explained that the glue I used was intended for transitioning between two different types of pipe (PVC / CPVC / ABS pipe) but that same glue could not be used to join ‘like’ pipes. He went on to explain that as a licensed gas fitter he couldn’t hook up the new water heater to ‘this’ venting…

We agreed that I would replace the venting (again) that evening and he would arrive (again) the next morning.  I purchased all new pipe and fittings ripped out all of the ‘new’ venting and replaced it with ‘newer’ venting.

The repair team arrived on my doorstep the next morning and finally replaced the water heater. It took them 42 minutes… They thanked me for my efforts, apologized for the delays, and assured me that for all the effort I had still saved a good deal of money having replaced the venting myself – despite the fact I had done it twice.

I’m hoping I’ll get 10 years of service out of this water heater before I ever have to do this again…

1 Comment »

  1. Oh, wow! I didn’t have to replace any venting, but I feel your pain on the water heater front. We had to replace ours (a solid workhorse of a thing that lasted more than 20 years) around this time last year. I’ll be lucky if I get half that out of the new one.

    It’s an ugly job. But hey, can’t go without hot water forever, right?! Though I’m sure you probably felt like that was your fate at some points.

    Glad to hear it all worked out.

    Comment by Nicole — May 20, 2009 @ 8:50 am

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