ouray

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It's me doing a little posing while taking a break at the Ouray, Colorado Jeep Jamboree in 1995.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Great Hot Water Heater Pressure-Valve Caper of 2017

The freshly installed water heater in April of 2015.

I'm not the kind of guy who thinks everything should work as advertised all of the time, but my position is that new stuff should perform reliably, at least for a while.

It has been almost two years ago to the day I replaced my hot-water heater. You can read about that adventure here. Actually it was about 23 months ago, if you insist on picking nits. I think the life expectancy of a water heater should be something north of two years, right? Like, maybe, um...10, 12 or even 20 years? Maybe? Right?

Among the storied auto media organizations to which I belong, is GAAMA or the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association. I, in fact, was among the founders, serving on its board for its first two formative years. Making the twice monthly slog to Atlanta and back for a board meeting and then the regular group meeting simply became too time consuming.

At the end of two years when, as the senior vice president, I was heir apparent to assume the reins as president, I declined the responsibility and all of its assorted hassles, such as making those Atlanta runs. (If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.) For the past couple of years, I've only attended the March meeting, which is in conjunction with the media day for the Atlanta Auto Show.

This year's media auto-show day was last Wednesday. With the festivities beginning with an 8 a.m. breakfast, I needed to be at Atlanta's convention center by 7:30 or so to sign in and so forth. Roughly two-and-a-half hours are required for me to drive the 150 miles from my house to the convention center. I know this because I've done it several times. Rain adds another 30 minutes or so to the total. It was a clear morning; so, I needed to leave my house no later than 5 a.m. Wow! I must be a real go-getter after all.

Answering my alarm at 4 a.m., I headed to the shower to the sound of a fairly high-pitched whistle. That's odd, I thought. I showered, toweled off and noticed the whistling persisted. Throwing on a bath robe, I walked the house investigating the source. My house is more vertical than horizontal and my recon only required about 45 seconds. Determining the sound was emanating from under the house, I pushed open the door leading from the lower-level hallway into the bowels of the crawl space. Yep, no doubt about it; the noise was much louder. Oh, I could also hear the sound of running water.

I'm not a handyman nor an expert on home repair, but I am a high school graduate. There definitely was something amiss in the deep, dark recesses of my crawl space. If you are an at least somewhat loyal Clanging Bell reader, you may know that my crawl space is not your typical den of dirt and mold. Accessed from the lower-level of my house, it actually occupies the area under the second level or main floor of the house. Entering through the lower-level hallway door just off my office, one drops about 30 inches onto a plastic-covered surface. One of the few benefits of being vertically challenged, I can bend over at bit at the waist and navigate around this tomb without too much trouble. But, it's still a crawl space.

I headed upstairs and ditched my robe, donning grubbies and my old yard-work tennis shoes, I grabbed a flashlight before heading down into the unknown.

Just to summarize: It's 4:15 a.m. and I'm under my house with a flashlight searching for the source of the noise and running water.

Both the whistling and the running water were from my water heater. The water was running out of the run-off located on the top of every water heater. I couldn't tell what was causing the whistling. Having no clue what to do, I crawled back out from under the house.

I decided to just flip off the breaker switch for the water heater and leave it until I returned from Atlanta. The breaker box is actually outside on the side of the house. Not a particularly safe nor convenient arrangement. With the band-aid in place, I dressed and was out the door to Atlanta by 5. In retrospect, I should have probably turned off the water, as well, but it was more of an aggressive dripping than a running.

Media day at the auto show wraps up with lunch followed by GAAMA's annual business meeting. I did wolf down some BBQ before rushing out the door, but I skipped the meeting. My goal was to have a water-heater plan of action in place before sunset.

Back under the house, the water was still flowing out of the heater's overflow run-off when I returned home. The water was now cold and there was no longer any whistling. I discovered when I depressed the pressure valve on top of the tank, the water flow stopped. Could it be something as simple as a malfunctioning pressure valve? Taking the glass-is-half-full approach, I decided replacing it would be my first line of attack.

I “Binged” replacing water-heater pressure valves and found a few You-tube videos on the subject. It didn't appear too difficult. I grabbed my second shower of the day and headed to my weekly gathering of the Wednesday-Night Irregulars at Greenville's Peddler Steak House. Leaving a little early, I stopped at the Lowe's next door to Peddler. Discovering there ate two sizes of replacement pressure valves, I purchased one of each at $14.95.

Because of project deadlines for a client, I didn't get around to readdressing the pressure-valve issue until after lunch the next day. Hiking out to the shed, I grabbed a garden hose, channel locks and a big wrench. I needed the hose to run from the tank drain to the downstairs shower. The other tools should be self-explanatory.

Roughly 45 minutes, a crack on the head from a floor joist, and about 10 trips down into and back out of the crawl space were required to complete the replacement.I was finished before 3:00.

To date, everything seems to be fine. Well, until the next time.

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