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Totally Blowing Stuff Up Tuesdays: We're Back!

February 23, 2016

If you have been a reader of this little slice of the Internet, you know that there are a couple of things that I like.  Well, boobs, yes, and they usually travel in a pair, so good job.  You aced the pop quiz.  Nicely done.

The other things I like are explosions and doing stuff around the house that makes me feel all handy and manly and rawr, I want to feel some boobs now.

This story begins on Valentine's Day. I was preparing to take a shower ere heading off to the grocery to get something to cook for dinner.  I turned the water on and left it run so that I could climb in and enjoy the warmth of the wet water running down my tortured and aching muscles.  However, when I stuck my hand in to check the temperature, it was like feeling ice pelting down on me. 

There's some kind of Eskimo fetish
going on out there...apparently

So, I let it run for a little while longer.  Still cold.  Then I turned on the sink's hot water faucet.  Call Manny and Sid, cause we got another Ice Age on our hands.

At which point, I uttered many a swear word, almost all of them beginning with "fuck."

Fortunately, I have a brother who is a plumber and an electrician.  Unfortunately, my brother the plumber and electrician lives four states and approximately 13 hours away.  Fortunately, there is this website called Facebook, where you can stalk your old high school crushes AND ask your handyman siblings for assistance when needed. 

He told me to press the reset button.  Reset button?  I didn't know there was such a thing.

There is.  It's usually hidden under the top panel and it's big and bright red and you can't miss it, even if you think you can.  You will immediately hear the water heater switch on, too, upon pressing it.  Neat.  Sexy AND informative, this blog.

So, I crawled into the darkened depths of the crawlspace and pressed the reset button.  Everything was Jim Dandy, Hunky Dory...for about 36 hours.  On Tuesday, I had to reset the water heater four or five times.  All the mind-numbing cold water pouring out of the mind...and so I lost count.  But it was definitely a whole number and it was more than three and less than seventy five.

Anyway, I decided to act.  Coming home early on Wednesday afternoon, I drained the water heater and rushed off to buy a replacement kit for the water heater elements--those things which do the yeoman's work of heating the water in the tank.  It set me back about $40.  Not a problem.  The problem was, though, that I began to worry just a bit, because in order to heat all that water inside the tank, it requires electricity.  A LOT of electricity.  So, I was fearful of electrocuting myself under the house with no one around to notice that the lights went dim for a few moments and that the lovely smell coming from under the floorboards was not dinner, but it was, instead, roast Dad.

Precisely what I was trying
to avoid doing...
Spoilers:  I'm savvy enough to have found the correct switch to throw on the breaker box, AND I double-checked the flow of electricity through the machine.  Multiple times. There was none.  Cool.  Let's do this.

Switching out elements on a water heater is actually fairly easy.  I'm here to attest to this.  For real.  It took me all of fifteen minutes to get the top element switched out.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I was going to get this done in an hour and a half (an hour of the project being the draining and the shutting off of power) and we would have hot water by dinner time.

Eh, not so fast, my friend.

The bottom element...was a bitch.  To put it kindly.  I sliced the living hell out of my knuckles trying to get the beast to move.  I laid on the wrench, pushed, sprayed it with all manner of lubricant, tapped on it.  Nothing.  It would not move.

After two hours, I decided to call in professional help.  Enter Kevin, the friendly guy from Roto-Rooter some national chain who laid on the wrench, pushed, sprayed it with all manner of lubricant, tapped on it, nothing.  He even put a hex nut head on the element and stood on the wrench.  It. Would. Not. Budge.

Well, fuck me running. 

There's a little back story to fill in here, as well:  the water heater was easily 30 years old.  I'm shocked that it lasted this long.  It was not up to code, and since I'm looking to sell this money pit house in the near-ish future, I made the decision to get a new water heater installed.  Again, I relied on the professional.  Mostly because there was a SECOND fear lurking in the back of my mind while dealing with maintenance on a water heater.  Namely, that it would build up pressure and burst, shooting through my house like a rocket.

Seem far-fetched?  Again, not so fast, my friend.

I know I give Mythbusters some shit for their "scientific" claims for all their experiments, but there is some serious proof in the pudding here.  That video should set you up with another video to watch from Mythbusters where they destroy a small house by having a water heater shoot THROUGH the entire structure.  It's pretty impressive.  For real.  Watch it.


Oh...the explanation.  Right!  When the pressure builds up inside the inner chamber of the water heater, the water begins to get really pissed off.  It wants to expand, to turn to steam, something--anything!--to relieve that pressure (which is why there is a pressure release valve on water heaters).  These water heaters are engineered to release out the bottom in just such a scenario (rather than rupturing and shooting shrapnel everywhere, which is actually a lot worse than what you just watched), which unfortunately turns them into rockets.  Rockets that fly 500 feet in the air, gushing superhot water, but rockets nonetheless.

Ah, science!

So, not only was I glad to not have electrocuted myself, but I also am glad that I had the professional install the water heater so that it was up to code AND installed correctly.  Even if my $40 fix-it-yourself project suddenly turned into something that cost over $1000.  I'm up to code, and there's nothing firing off through the two floors of my house and the roof.

Oh, and the showers?  Yeah, they're nice and hot now.  And I don't have to crawl under the house in order to press the reset button on the water heater.  Now I can save all that energy for pushing better, more sexy buttons.

Yeah, I'm not sure what that means, either.


Wynn said...

But, I know what you button you mean. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. You do. I know you do. Wink. Hurr. Hurr.

MJenks said...

Yes, that IS the button I was talking about.

Although, I don't normally press it with a finger.

*drops mic*

*moonwalks out*