Shortly after recovering from the mess that was “Superstorm Sandy” last month, I received a call from my housemate that there was a large puddle on the floor around the water heater. It had been working fine after I replaced the malfunctioning “safety device” a year earlier. The device consisted of a small vial of oil with a spring-loaded trap. The way it worked is that if the temperature inside the combustion chamber below the water heater exceeded a certain threshold, the oil would heat up and expand, shattering the glass vial and closing off the air supply to the burner. In my case, the heater was functioning fine but after so many heat/cool cycles the safety finally gave up. I ended up getting a used replacement off Ebay, and for the longest time had no trouble.
Fast forward back to the week after Sandy, I get home and discover the big puddle of water on the floor, a blend of rust and other crap which was surrounding the heater. I go online and try to find a new unit locally, Lowes has a model from the same manufacturer with the same specifications for about $550. I wasn’t too thrilled about the expense, nor the added cost of buying the various tools and fittings required to complete the job. Since I’m not exactly rolling in wealth (despite being one of those despised top 10% of wage earners who voted for Romney) – I couldn’t afford to have a plumber do it so I set it up myself. After about 2 days without hot water, once again we were able to wash dishes and ourselves.
Fast forward to this past weekend, I recently picked up one of those Shark steam mops which also had a detachable steamer and had been progressing through the various areas of the house to clean. Part of doing a thorough job was taking everything off the shelves in my utility room, moving the shelves out, and steam cleaning the tile floor. Well when it came time to empty the shelves by the water heater, I started pulling out the gallon jugs of water I keep on hand in case of emergency and come to realize that one of them was almost completely empty. The cap was sealed, but under the jug there was a small puncture hole due to someone pushing the jug backwards in order to store something else on the shelf. The jug must have leaked all over the floor… right next to the water heater.
Wait for it…