Water Heater Woes

04 Jun

We are grateful unto thee for hot and cold running water.” This was a phrase that my father Kent often used during our family prayers — something that I always found a little odd. I suspect it hearkened back to his two years serving an LDS mission in the late 1960s in the South American countries of Argentina and Bolivia, where hot and cold running water were scarce. I believe that as Americans, we often take for granted that we can get clean, drinkable water from the tap and can select the temperature level with ease.

It is not so in many other parts of the world. Water heaters are virtually unheard of in
Brazil. They rely on a different, and probably more efficient technology called the “chuveiro” or literally translated, the “rainmaker.” This little device is actually a bunch of electric heating coils within the showerhead itself. When you turn on the water, it crackles, pops and then starts to emit warm water onto your cold naked body. It’s really an interesting invention, although the combination of electricity and water always made me feel uncomfortable. (I always felt kind of strange seeing live electric wires hooked up to the shower head, and I took more than one pretty decent shock by inadvertently putting fingers too near while trying to adjust it.)


One challenge with the chuveiro is how to get the water temperature just right. The only way to do it was to change the water pressure. By increasing the water pressure, you would cause more water to pass through the coils, giving it less time to warm up. By decreasing the flow, you could increase the temperature since less water would flow. This was a particular problem in one area where the water pressure was always very low, the result being a scalding trickle of water on my head. Not at all pleasant!


Anyway, the reason I’m grateful for “hot and cold running water” today is that yesterday, my water heater started having a tizzy fit — it’s true. It started to overflow all over my basement and so I had to turn off the water to the entire house. (It’s amazing how much you depend on things like water and electricity; when they are off, it’s really annoying.) A good friend and neighbor of mine, Theron Case, came over and said he would be willing to help me replace my old water heater with a new one. Instead of paying $850 for the new heater plus profession installation from a plumber, I got Theron to do it for free, so I ended up paying $427 for the new 40 gallon whirlpool heater and the installation kit parts. I am very grateful for his help, especially since he spend much of the evening doing it (he didn’t leave my house until almost midnight).


My dad (the guy who was thankful for hot and cold running water) was somewhat of a handyman. He had a lot of tools and was often engaged in remodeling projects at our home in East Millcreek and at his rental property, a fourplex in Midvale (in an area we affectionately referred to as Little Guadalajara). As I said, he was pretty good at fixing things — unfortunately, he neglected to pass much of that knowledge to his sons. I don’t think any of the five sons are particularly handy, and I wish I were since it would come in… well, you know, handy. I’ve done lots of work around my home remodeling, but when something breaks, I’m kind of useless. If he were alive today, Dad would just tell me to be curious and figure it out… since I’m sure that’s how he learned!

Anyway, I’d like to close by thanking God for hot and cold running water. 🙂  


Posted by on June 4, 2007 in Random Thoughts


2 responses to “Water Heater Woes

  1. Vicki

    June 4, 2007 at 5:01 am

    Andrew, sorry about the water heater! Loved the comments about your Dad. Love, Mom

  2. Kira

    June 4, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Thank goodness for good neighbors or family members that can save our hides sometimes. There is definitely value in being a “fix it” kind of person!


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