Drop it Like its Hot

Posted by Christine on July 28, 2011 in Home |

Sunday night I went downstairs to clean out Ninja’s liter and discovered what appeared to be little, wet paw prints all over the carpet. At first I was concerned that my four legged mammal had taken to pissing all over the basement carpet. This was only negated when I noticed that the giant artificial Christmas tree boxed up behind Ninja’s liter was all water stained.  I was wrong….it was much worse.

I went around the basement staircase only to find a puddle, the size of Rhode Island, underneath the hot water tank. Internet, this can’t possibly be normal behavior for a hot water tank. Luckily the water had not put the pilot light out so we still had hot water for the time being.

We called a plumber and he was able to come the next afternoon to take a look at the tank. Low and behold, the thing was shitting the brick; sorta like a three legged dog trying to limp down the stairs until it finally gives up and just tumbles head over heals down the remaining few steps.

He gave Brett an estimate of how much it would cost to replace the whole hot water tank; $640 and included my favorite portion of any contractors estimate “plus any extras that my be incurred while I’m doing the work.” Like what extras? You strike oil in my basement? You fall through my floor? I mean…..gimmie something to work with here.

I was a little rippled by the price, figuring most of the price we would be incurring would be labor. Turns out, I was wrong. The tank itself is $400 bucks. Listen Lady, it’s basically a big metal can that holds water and has a candle underneath. Nothing fancy here. I bet ya if the Amish can do this without electricity, we should be able to do it for less than $400 bucks.

For about 30 minutes Brett and I tossed around the idea of trying to install the hot water tank ourselves….how hard could it really be? Bob Villa does it. The Internet has pretty detailed instructions for everything now and most of the time you can find videos on YouTube that guide you through this type of shit. Then we found a list of crap we’d need to have available to install the tank. Let me just share the list with you lady:

  • Vent Pipe Fittings
  • Gate Valve
  • Unions/Transition Unions
  • PTFE Plumber’s Tape
  • Hacksaw or Pipe Cutter
  • Screwdrivers
  • Garden Hose
  • Soldering Torch
  • 240-Volt Neon Test Light
  • Hand Cleaner
  • T&P Relief Valve
  • Water Pipe Fittings
  • Flex–Connectors: Water, Gas
  • 1/2″ Flare Adapter
  • Stick Pipe Dope
  • Pipe Wrenches
  • Adjustable Open-End Wrench
  • Drill and 1/8″ Bit
  • Sweat-Soldering Supplies
  • Appliance Cart, Dolly or Hand Truck

My initial reaction was all “that’s a lot of shit”. I even re-read the list to verify we didn’t need to make a sacrificial lamb killing or anything of that nature first.

My guess is we could have bought all these tools for slightly less than the $240 that we would end up paying the professional plumber for the labor install, but in the end we’d probably not be saving ourselves a lot of money and surely not a lot of time. Plus there is that whole safety issue with using a soldering torch near gas lines that I just felt really unsure about.

We gave up on the do it yourself repair idea rather quickly and called the professional plumber back. He was able to come out and replace the hot water tank the next day. It took him a few hours and he ended up having to replace the flue as well (one of those additional items he ran into). However, we have hot water again, the puddle formerly known as Rhode Island has been sucked up from my basement floor, and we are hoping that this is the last of the appliances to bite the bullet for the remainder of the year.

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