Not hot water, mind you, just warm. The water heater is still getting about the business of heating the water inside it, but here’s what it is not doing: it is not leaking; it is not turning itself off for no good reason; and it is not blowing up my house. (Yet.)
A while ago*, my bathtub faucet began to drip a bit if you didn’t twist the cold water tap really hard. Then it started doing it to the hot water tap. Then it started to dribble, rather than drip. At some point, we had to start really cranking on the hot water tap to get the dribble to stop. Then the hot water handle stripped completely off its post, and I just took to showering with a pair of pliers**. The dribble became a steady trickle of hot water but, since it didn’t affect my water or gas bills, it could be safely ignored. Then the overworked and underpaid water heater decided to start going on periodic strikes. This necessitated some tinkering and coaxing, but we eventually came to an agreement that yielded daily hot showers and
no relatively little carbon monoxide poisoning. Then I noticed an odd dark patch on the hall floor, which turned out to be the water that was pouring like a fountain from a melted seal on the water heater’s outflow pipe. Enough was enough. I shut the whole works down, called it a day, and just started taking cold showers.
That isn’t much of a hardship in Abilene in August, but cold snaps are coming. Also, frankly, I’m tired of washing dishes in cold water, and shaving in cold water is just not pleasant. The real reason is that, as shameless as I am, even I cannot live with cowardice indefinitely. The water heater and the leaky faucet had been looming like demons for long enough. It was time to face them. Aside from that, there’s always the outside chance that I may have a woman some day, and she’ll expect me to do this stuff. The alternative would be to hire some muscled-up sweaty guy half my age to come do it, and I’ve seen too many pornos to fall for that one. Might as well learn to do it myself, while the only people who have to bear the cost of my incompetence are still just me and the dog.
I am a crafty guy. I can make a hand-bound book, build a little box, etch glass… whatever little project catches my eye, I can do. However, to my eternal shame, when it comes to manly stuff like carpentry, plumbing, and auto repair, I am about as handy as a double amputee. I always wind up making several trips to the hardware store. I’m always frustrated into coming up with glorious new strings of obscenely-biological swear words. I always injure myself. I always wind up destroying something in a fit of childish rage. I always stumble around in a haze with no idea of what I’m doing. All of it is compounded by the fact that, since I’m not a handy guy, I don’t have any handy-guy tools. (Today, for lack of any kind of real saw, I used a hacksaw blade with no handle to laboriously cut away a chunk of wood and drywall.)
Despite my floundering, I usually manage to get the job done somehow. It’s not always pretty, but it works. Today, I have a working water heater and brand-new, sparkly tub fixtures. The only bummer is that I had to tear down part of my tub surround in order to get to the pipes where the fixtures attach. The North wall of my bathtub enclosure is now plastic sheeting sealed up with duct tape, but it’ll hold until I can get it fixed right.
I’ll get around to it soon; I’m sure it won’t take too long.
* No, I’m not going to say how long ago. It would only shame me.
** Why, yes. Yes, that IS banjo music you hear.