Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not on the Agenda

This morning around 6:35 AM I go down the basement for a paper sack to pack my lunch in.

I come back up the stairs without it.

Why?  Oh, just a little matter of water most of the way across the basement floor. 

I've seen this before, about six years ago.  Last time my water heater went out and needed to be replaced. 

This morning?  Blame the early hour, blame the chemo, blame my lousy eyesight, blame the fact that I'm all dressed to go substitute teach (for the first time since my surgery last April), but the mind goes into freeze mode.  Can I, might I do something to stabilize things and go ahead and go in? 

Revoke my DIY card, but I can't think of what all I should do.  What about the owner's manual?  It's up in the Appliance file, isn't it?  Yes, but can I focus well enough to understand what it could tell me about the subject?  I doubt it.

Wait a minute, wait a minute . . .  There's always the Internet.  I run upstairs, get online, and Google in "water heater leaking." ( It actually comes up as "water heating leaking," but no matter). And the first thing on the first site I open tells me the water could be coming from the temperature- pressure (TP) relief valve.  And if it is the TP relief valve, I, the homeowner, need to do something about it Right Away.  Because, the site told me, if too much pressure builds up, my tank could blow up.

My tank could blow up?????  What?  Really!?  I don't even know where my pressure relief valve is!  It's probably someplace on the bottom of the tank and here I am in my skirt and stockings and good shoes!  I'll never find it! 

Back down the basement.  I still need the lunch bag-- if I'm going in. 

Gosh, what a lot of water on the floor.  I pick up some trim that needs stripping to get it out of the way. Think, Kate, think! Could I leave this till 3:30 this afternoon?  Could I, should I?

But what if this was only part of the water that's in the tank, and it keeps getting worse?  Water on the loose Is Not Your House's Friend.

But I really need the money I'd be making today.

But what if the water keeps coming and coming?

I take a deep breath and call the school and beg off.

I still need to do something.  Oh!  My next-door neighbor is an air-conditioning repairman.  Maybe he knows something about plumbing.  They're up: I can see them moving around in their kitchen.  I pick up the phone: "Hi, it's me.  My water heater is leaking all over.  What do I need to turn off?"  The water valves?  Check.  Gas valve? Check.  Kthxbye.

The water on the floor looks like it's getting worse.  Slowly.

OK, notify the home warranty people.  Website alleges my contract doesn't cover broken water heaters.  Oh really?  That's not what my printed contract says.  I try the phone again.  And awhile later, again.  And awhile later, again.  I keep getting shifted into phone-transfer limbo.  Finally, a little before 8:00, I get a live person. The guy is helpful and puts in my service order.  He tells me to go ahead and drain the heater. OK.

Hour or so later, I get a call from the designated plumber.  He can't get to me till tomorrow.  Too many appointments today and he has to get me a new unit.

Oh, crumb.  Looks like I could have gone in to work today anyway.

Around noon, the plumber calls again.  He's had a couple of cancellations and can make it today after all, in about 45 minutes.

And he does.  And by 3:00 o'clock or so I have a new Rheem water heater, with copper pipes instead of those flexible steel kinds.  Mine were leaking anyway.  The old tank was leaking all over.  The old tank is gone.

The plumber turned out to be the same guy AHS sent out to tackle my bathroom sink plumbing a year or so ago.  That was nice.  And it kept the dog happy.

Now it's much later.  The basement floor is slowly drying out and the towels I used to mop up the floor are in the washing machine.  In hot water.

Nevertheless, all this was not on today's agenda.

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