Water Heater Drama

Our hot water heater started leaking on Wednesday night. Greg came home to the cat drinking from a puddle in the middle of the kitchen floor. He told me, “It sounded like a roast was cooking in the oven, sizzling, but there was no roast cooking”. Bummer for him. It was too late Wednesday night to bother with it, so he shut off the gas and the water feeding the heater. The sizzling noise stopped almost immediately. An old towel got thrown on the puddle and we went to bed.

We were totally bummed that we were going to have to fix the water heater. Our plan was to put in an entire new heating system. The new system will hopefully be located in our basement. Unfortunately, the basement is still full of dirt and not quite ready to have a concrete slabbed poured.

Greg contemplated fixing the water heater. To make that job as easy as possible, he figured we would have to get the same make and model, otherwise we would have to refit the gas pipes feeding the burner because they wouldn’t line up at all if it was a different model. Fitting threaded gas pipes requires a lot of expensive tools we didn’t have.

The plumbing supply store carried our current make/model, but won’t sell gas appliances unless you are a “licensed plumber”. Home Depot will sell you one they apparently don’t care if your a plumber or a programmer. But they didn’t have the same make/model and installing it would be more of a hassle than it was worth.

We found a phone number for Bartlett and Steadmen stamped on the leaking tank. $1000 bucks later we have a brand new water heater that’s looks exactly like the old one. The unit lists for around $400 bucks. It took two guys about two hours to remove and install a new one. Greg tried to be a good homeowner and win over the plumbers with a fresh coffee cake…they refused. In the end, we could have bought all the tools and the water heater and done it ourselves for maybe 15% less.

The cat thanked the plumbers when they were done by puking a hair ball in the middle of the kitchen. So freakin gross but the plumbers thought it was hilarious.

p.s. my stove is a Blue Star. Love it! Totally worth the price. Read more about buying a fancy gas stove here.

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11 Comments

  1. been there that sucks, hopefully there won’t be a next time but if there is, you can get flexible gas pipe to make the gas line to heater connection, just make sure mass code allows it. You can get it at home depot, it is fit with connectors at each end. Tighten up the fittings, turn the gas back on, brush some soapy water and the joints. No bubbles means a tight fit and your back in business

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  2. My cousin Marc is a very honest, brilliant plumber (with fair pricing!) who owns his own business, Done Right Plumbing. His office is in New Boston, NH, and I bet he’d travel to your area in MA! Give him a call if you encounter any plumbing problems in the future:
    http://www.donerightplumbing.net
    Glad it all worked out, but sorry it cost you a pretty penny…love watching you create your home piece by piece.

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  3. Oh it is so true, those are not the things we want to spend money on! Come on over for some inspiration!!

    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  4. Katy,

    Your local plumbing supply store is a wholesaler, not retail store which is why they wouldn’t sell to you. You do have to be a licensed plumber/hvac,etc. person to do business with them. That’s the way their company works all over New England. It’s not that you can’t buy gas appliances w/o a license, it just that not anyone can walk in off the street and get the wholesale price from them.

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  5. Thanks so much, Katy! I’ll definitely have to study the GardenWeb appliances forum. Also, I think your kitchen is cute. I don’t even think the water heater is so bad — maybe just in a slightly awkward corner? Oh well I’m sure the cement slab will be great. Don’t let them install it too thick — you don’t want to lose too much headroom. Friend of mine did it and lost two feet. Oops! They must have made a mistake.

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  6. Thank you for adding humor to plumbing! Never heard that you can’t buy a gas appliances without being licensed.

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  7. It’s a Blue Star! Love it. The house didn’t have a stove when we moved in. I figured I would just buy what I really wanted rather then get a cheapo and then buy a great stove later.

    It’s been totally worth it. The kitchen is a disgusting mess. But I don’t really notice it when I’m busy cooking.

    Oh and I can get 4 industrial cookie sheets in the oven at once! Amazing!

    http://www.katyelliott.com/blog/2008/09/saga-of-buying-gas-stove.html

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  8. What kind of stove is that again? I can’t find your old post on it. I used to think nice stoves were a waste of money, but I’ve changed my mind. It makes the room.

    I have to decide soon what kind of stove to put in our first floor kitchen. The existing green Magic Chef one looks amazing but I’m not sure it’s worth fixing as I doubt you could even fit a chicken in the oven. What were they thinking?

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  9. oh man. that is truly a bummer. how much do you feel like diane keaton right now? houses are such money pits.

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  10. oh dear! what a pain… I really hate the expense of renovations that you can’t see. Your cat’s response says all that needs to be said on the matter!

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