Sunday, December 17, 2006

No Hot Shower Today

Jim and I decided to go up to the cabin to to do some repair work. The cabin is in desperate need of a paint job. We also planned on replacing the 30 year old water heater before it gave up the ghost. Painting plans deteriorated as weather forecasts predicted highs not reaching 50 degrees. Experts (at least the ones Google found) recommended against painting at temperatures below 50. I purchased a water heater in the valley since the last time I checked, the hardware stores in Showlow didn't stock the size needed for the tight fit in the tiny cabin bathroom.

With tools, supplies, and a new heater loaded, Jim and I set out to get some work done. Weather forecasts proved accurate. Chill and strong winds prevailed in the high country. We decided to tackle inside work first. The first order of business was paying a visit to the Lakeside-Pinetop Sanitary District office to obtain a sewer permit. A few minutes and several thousand dollars later we emerged with permission to connect to the sewer (see post "The $20 Flush). The next order of business was installing the new heater. We removed the old one and wrestled the new in place. After connecting, we gave it the pressure test. It failed. Water flowed from one of the tank fittings. No amount of tape, goop, or tightening could seal it. We had a defective heater. We disconnected and moved it to the porch. As the sun set that evening, our hopes for a hot shower that night set with it.

This can't be good for local property values

Calls to local hardware stores the next day found no heaters that would fit. We called Steve who volunteered to help on cabin repairs. We told him our heater dilemma and advised him not to come since there wasn't a lot we could do. He called back later saying the Flagstaff Home Depot had a heater that fit. I called the local Home Depot to see if one was in stock. At first they denied it but eventually came around and admitted they had one. This one did the trick. Installation was smooth and there were no leaks.

A fine looking installation

With hot water available, we focused on repairing some outer wood work. We replaced 10 feet of eave that was rotting. The wind made outside work miserable.

Evidence that we did work outside

On the third morning, snow covered the ground. At least the wind had stopped but the temperature was dropping. Snow fell harder as we prepared to leave with our aching backs. You don't move and load three water heaters without hurting your back. It was slow going through town. I found out what the anti lock brakes feel like when engaged. The snow continued for another forty miles down the highway.

Time to go home

If the new water heater holds up for thirty years like the old one, then this trip has secured hot showers for generations of cabin visitors to come so that no one will utter the words "no hot shower today" until Jim and I are too old to do this again.