Or out of hot water actually.  I awoke yesterday to a terribly cold shower.  Investigation into the reasons revealed a hot water tank that was leaking from the bottom.  It was leaking right onto the burner actually which accounts for the lack of hotness in the water.  Time for a new one.

Everybody you tell this to responds in exactly the same way:  they tell you about how theirs failed and caused thousands of dollars worth of water damage and untold hassles with their insurance companies.  Well, this one was located over a water drain as well as being below the level of the house so I had none of that.  I only had a crapped-out water heater.

I went straight to Home Depot.  When you get there as they open at 7:30, you have excellent customer service because you’re the only one in the store.  Very nice, actually.  I bought my new hot water tank and arranged for installation.

I then realized that installation costs about as much as the unit itself.  Nonetheless, if you ain’t got no hot water, you’re not really in a position to negotiating a better price.  My usual do-it-yourself-ness was not terribly appropriate here since the job had to be done quickly and correctly the first time.  Plus, inspections are now required and if not done, would make the sale of the house awkward in a few years so I hired a plumber.

I then headed to the office where they have a gym and showers.  Following this, I worked as long as I could before having to leave to meet the plumber which I was glad to get on the same day as the failure.  That’s partly why I got to Home Depot first thing in the morning.

And of course, he didn’t arrive on time.  He was only about an hour late though so there was plenty of time for him to finish the job.  His phone was ringing a lot so I stayed out in the garage in the hopes that it would keep him on task.  There were apparently no issues but even so, there were added costs.  This is the part that irritates me.  I understand that these things must be done according to the relevant building codes and that everyone’s home is just a little different but it still annoys me that they will arrive and promptly started adding costs that were not originally included in the estimate.  And the things that are required are exorbitantly priced.

For example, code now requires water heaters to be placed in a drip pan.  This seems reasonable although the pans are only about two inches deep.  In anything other than a minor failure, these would barely contain the flood before the water could escape via the drain.  The pan is a galvanized steel thing that looks like the water pans you put outside for your dog that can be purchased for about $10 although these are not as high quality as dog bowls.  He charged me $75 for this item and of course, he was just the plumber, he did not set pricing and was not in a position to negotiate.  Installation consisted entirely of setting in on the floor and cost $25.  I thought briefly of offering him one of my seldom-used tools in exchange for a drip pan that “fell of a truck somewhere” but thought better of it.  Mel is cool like that – she totally would have done it.  I suppose if I had had my old shotgun that Dad and I used to shoot skeet, I could have negotiated the entire job for free but I imagine law enforcement would have become involved rather soon after that.

Then there were a small number of pipes and valves, all of which he had in his truck but which were unforeseen in some way and required additions to the bill.  A valve which can be found at any hardware store for less than $10 was listed at around $60.  I realize these people have expenses but I think most of these prices are a bit into the “gouging” category.  I refuse to believe that a quarter-turn ball valve with a plastic handle is worth more than about $10. 

I should point out that I’m only grousing about the cost of the extra parts.  I’m totally willing to pay them for their time.  Plumbers have a job that inevitably involves working in the presence of nasty odors and in gloomy, damp places.  They definitely earn their wage for dealing with the effluents of society.

But the bottom line (aside from the cost) is that it had to be done and I got it done in less than a day with no collateral damage.  I’m inclined to just get on with life.  It’s ironic though that we recently paid off our mortgage and were planning on having that much extra each month to save but since the payoff, each month has brought an expense equal to or greater than the old house payment.  Good thing we don’t have the house payment on top of these things.

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