Suzy Says
Radio Nowhere
Water Works
February 5th, 2013 by suzy in Country Life,Family

It’s been a cold winter by California standards: at or below freezing many nights, though as I said before, the clear days are sunny and the nights are starry. The Ridge is often icy in the morning, and there is hard frost on the grass at the side of the road, looking all winter wonderland.

I know that doesn’t seem all that cold to all of you back East, where they keep the real weather in all its extremes, but your house probably has insulation, and you probably have heat in your bathroom. You probably also have closets and walls that don’t curve and more than three feet of counter space, too.

But Chez Suzy, the flash heater is located outside, instead of inside, the way it’s supposed to be, even out here in the boonies. For those of you wondering what this contraption is, it heats water on its way to your shower or kitchen sink (not the washer, though – that’s only hooked up for cold water). This winter, the shower has been just about warm enough, not quite, which is kind of unpleasant with the window in the shower blowing a draft on me in the cold mornings.

I figure this is because the water is being pre-cooled outside. But last week, it started getting colder. And then it was just plain cold.

Rob came and took a look at it, but it’s not really his forte. I emailed Mark about it, and he replied with some suggestions that didn’t help. A couple of days without hot water and it got pretty old, not at all like “Little House on the Prairie”, as you would think.

We called in the cavalry in the form of my brother, who took the flash heater apart – well, the plumbing part. Even a fireman didn’t want to start in on the gas part, and if it came to that, I’d have to take the whole thing to Willits to the one guy in the entire county who can repair one of these expensive German contraptions.

Apparently it is top of the line and costs something in the luxury neighborhood of $700 or $800. Jonathan complimented the German engineering and reminded me of one of our father’s old jokes:

“Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it’s all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German and it’s all organized by the Italians.”

Dad was never afraid of the politically incorrect.

Jonathan discovered a mini pebble in the works, so small that it’s hard to believe it was the big problem, and a valve that was sticking. He removed the pebble and lubricated the sticky valve and voilĂ ! The flash heater was restored to mediocrity instead of freezulation. Mediocrity never looked so good.

Jonathan mentioned that he has some insulation we can put on the outside pipes to help make it warmer, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the (relative) warmth.

Update: I picked up and installed the insulation. I guess the water is a little warmer, though I still don’t need at add cold water to my shower, which I was kind of hoping for.

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2 Responses

We can all endure the cold, snow, and more cold but nobody should be without hot water, glad you were able to find the problem.

Hope the extra insulation (soon?) helps – cold/lukewarm showers are just wrong! I was worried when we moved into our 1920s apt building that we would have hot water issues but apparently they had just upgraded the boiler and we have insanely hot water for as long as you want. Feel free to come visit!

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