The depth of the puddles in the driveway and on the roadways today is no match for the amount of water that has accumulated in our basement in the last few days. It took a while for us to determine the source of the indoor lake, but finally my husband traced it to the aging hot water heater. Our house is about twenty-five years old, so we know we need to start replacing parts of it. We started last week with a new roof. Next on our agenda was the refrigerator and stove exhaust fan. But our plans were sidetracked by the flood.
The hot water heater was on our list, but we didn’t see any immediate need for a replacement. Yesterday we did. We decided to mop up first, and then we headed to Home Depot. Confused by the choices in the plumbing aisle, we pushed the red call button for help, and within two minutes an employee was at our side. How lucky could we get? This guy was also a knowledgeable plumber now assisting customers with their total confusion about pipes. We told him what hot water heater we were considering, but he actually steered us to the cheapest model. We asked him about getting someone to install it, but he assured us it was very easy to do it ourselves. Installation fees were almost the exact price of the hot water heater! So we listened carefully to his brief tutorial, and I watched my husband’s face to see if there was any understanding at all about the steps he was rattling off. The employee grabbed parts we would need, had us measure the size of the box to see if we could get it in the car so we wouldn’t have to rent the truck, and then helped us put the box in the car. As an extra insurance of competency, he recommended several websites that offered tutorials on installing a hot water heater, and we headed home. We estimated that employee at Home Depot saved us over four hundred dollars.
Getting the hot water heater into the house was a bit of a challenge, but we did it. Resembling something out of a Three Stooges movie (but with only two stooges), we dragged it into the house and then slid it down the stairs to the wet basement. There are some areas of repair my husband can still do, but really I did not think this was one of them. After an afternoon of work, it was finally installed, although the temperature of the water was close to scalding at this point. So we have hot water but still a very wet basement. Today with the use of fans and blow dryers, we may be able to salvage some of the lifetime clutter we store in the basement. We recently worked on organizing the basement and getting rid of a lot of things we had accumulated. We stored most of our remaining possessions in plastic bags or containers, and some boxes were standing on two-by-fours to keep them off the damp flooring. We also have a good dehumidifier that usually keeps everything pretty dry, but now that would not be enough.
Retirement offers us many days of leisure, where we do more thinking about what we should do instead of actually doing it. We have all the time in the world is often our motto. In reality, we don’t know how much time we have left in our lives, so fate sometimes needs to step in and give us a little nudge. I guess that’s what we can call the burst hot water heater. Just a nudge to get us going. I’m hoping future nudges will just give us some time to recover from this one.
If you ever need to replace your hot water heater, think about going to Home Depot (although unless you live where we do, you may not be so fortunate to find such a wonderful, helpful employee!).