LIFE AS THE HOUSE FALLS APART

I just finished washing the dinner dishes in cold water. I always thought having hot water was a luxury and getting stuff clean was as easy with cold as hot water. I am here to tell you it’s not a luxury. It’s much harder to wash anything without hot water. But we don’t have any hot water. Until Wednesday, we are hot-water free. Today, the hot water heater blew up. It wasn’t old. We replaced it not long ago — a few years — and it was supposed to be a super-duper fancy one which would last for twenty years. I don’t think it survived for five. It did last exactly long enough to be past its warranty date.

Why is that the way it always is?

This is not my first house. I owned two in New York. Two in Israel. This is my third in Massachusetts. And of course, I grew up in an old house that was under constant renovation from the day we moved into it when I was four, until I moved out at age seventeen.

We did quite a lot of work on this house when we moved in. We put in drains, a sump, a pump. We replaced the roof, added vinyl siding. We’ve replaced all the toilets and sinks. All the floors. Front door and back door. The well … and the well-pump twice.

All the toilets and sinks need replacing again and we could use a new bathroom.


This all reminds me I have  finally beat the depression that stalked me most of my life. With all of this stuff going on, I’m not depressed. I’m upset. Worried. Frustrated and bummed. But not depressed. That’s a major change from my younger years. Although I have to say that a sufficient amount of worry can be surprisingly similar to depression. 

Why does everything happen at the same time? Is there some kind of law about this?

My theory is that all houses are money pits. Something always needs doing. When you don’t have resources, you wait. Hope by the time whatever it is goes critical, you’ll be in better shape. Time passes and you know you must do whatever was at the top of the list — in our case, the front door.  The water heater was not on the list because we replaced it a few years ago. Surprise!

But mostly, you knew something would happen. Problems accumulate. When you don’t have money, you wait and hope a day comes when you will be able to manage it. As far as that goes, we are better off than we were five years ago and a lot better off than ten years ago. But the difference is not very large. There’s busted and not quite busted.

Garry, who never owned a house before, is freaked. I, who have owned houses, am bummed and wondering how we will do this stuff. It’s not like we have a choice, either. We need hot water. Oh to have real incomes so we could just take out a loan and be able to pay it back.

I feel kind of stunned, probably because Garry had — just a few minutes ago — asked me the fatal question.


“So … what else is going to happen”?

The hot water heater popped.

Never ask that question. It’s right up at the top of things you should never think, much less say aloud. Akin to “what could possibly go wrong?” This is an evil question that is guaranteed to bring down the wrath of the household gods.

50 thoughts on “LIFE AS THE HOUSE FALLS APART

  1. slmret July 18, 2017 / 12:26 am

    I had an interesting conversation with an acquaintance the other day about age decades and levels of maturity. In our twenties, you are still finding your way around; 30’s proving to yourself and others that you know your way around; 40’s and 50’s you settle down to enjoy life, and then things start to go wrong! At that point, you “grin and bear it,” doing what has to be done. I’m glad to hear that you have reached the stage of “grin and bear it,” and are not depressed about all that is happening. Yes, you do need hot water — even if you had plenty of money in a savings account, you’d be wondering how you would manage a new water heater, but it sounds as if you will get it done, one way or another. At that point, I will laugh with you — “what next?”

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 12:31 am

      It’s rough when you are on a relatively small fixed income. Yes, we will get it done because water heaters are not nearly as expensive as many other things. Less than the door, for example. It’s still about 25% of what we humorously call “savings.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Garry Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 11:11 am

        As the poet once said — “This sucks!”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ravenhawks magazine July 18, 2017 / 12:48 am

    When my water heater “died” I installed heat on demand tankless water heaters in the bath room and the kitchen. They work well, conserve energy but I wouldn’t shower and do laundry at the same time.

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 12:50 am

      I think you need a gas connection to do that, otherwise, I would. As far as I know, though, you do need gas. If you don’t need gas, please let me know. We can avoid showering while doing laundry because we don’t do that anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ravenhawks magazine July 18, 2017 / 1:13 am

        No gas is not needed go on line and check them out at Lowes or Home Depot so you get an idea of what is available.

        Like

  3. angloswiss July 18, 2017 / 12:59 am

    I grew up without hot water. My childhood home was built when hot water didn’t exist and it wasn’t ours, but today I couldn’t imagine life without. Owning property you are on your own if something fails and it always fails when the guarantee is no longer valid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:09 am

      Why IS that? Why does nothing fail while the warranty IS valid? Is there a law? The thing is, this was an expensivee high tech tank. It lasted less time than any other tank we’ve ever had. So much for paying more. I’ll just get something cheap. If they’re going to pop anyway, I might as well not spend a lot.

      At least last time, we didn’t pay for it. We had insurance back then. They discontinued the insurance after we got the tank. Of course.

      If I could afford it, I’d get the tankless hot water setup. But they cost at least double what a cheap tank costs and with the door, I’m pretty much out of money.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:21 am

          Well, there are just two of us, so if we are patient and careful, we don’t actually need that much. We have the plumber coming Wednesday. I will find out because I would prefer to NOT have another tank. I’ve lived through at least half a dozen busted water heaters and I’m really tired of the mess. They always just blow up without warning.

          Liked by 1 person

          • ravenhawks magazine July 18, 2017 / 1:24 am

            I too have had that “fun” experience with the tankless I have one under the sink in the kitchen and one to handle the shower, sink, tub and washing machine.

            Like

          • ravenhawks magazine July 18, 2017 / 1:25 am

            Even Walmart carries them now so you can do a little reading up on them for yourself if you like.

            Like

            • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:26 am

              I was looking. But we need a plumber to do this though my son says he is VERY reasonable and fair. So if it will work in our basement and it is affordable, the idea is very appealing. VERY appealing.

              Like

              • ravenhawks magazine July 18, 2017 / 1:30 am

                Actually the disconnect from the hot water heater you have and then run the cold water into the new tank and reconnect the pipes for the house to the tankless and plug it in your son may be able to do it but the biggest issue is removing the big one you have now. The tankless hangs on the wall so it even saves space.

                Like

                • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:32 am

                  I already know my son doesn’t have time to do this AND the door … and work full and a half time. And we will need the tank removed and there’s no dump site in this town. We are the ONLY town in the valley without a dump. Who’d have thought a dump would matter this much?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • ravenhawks magazine July 18, 2017 / 2:27 am

                    Yes at a time like this a dump matters. You know I had room under my sink in the kitchen to put a tankless water heater we only had to add an electrical outlet.

                    Like

  4. stoneygirl July 18, 2017 / 1:01 am

    All I can say is you just described me to a T! Only we are out of a furnace that provides hot water too. Doing that WAITING thing too. Over a week with no hot water. I just very thankful it is July and not January because no heat would be much worse. Funny thing is, fuel assistance said it could take a long time to get it done. Might be January before we finally get heat and hot water. Plus lots of flooding to deal with because of furnace and broken refrigerator. I got that bathroom need too. I need lots for it. Unfortunately, I haven’t got lots of money. Joke is on me I guess. I hate being a home owner but I think I’d hate renting even more. Hoping for a miracle for both of us, Marilyn!

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:11 am

      Well, we’ve got a lot of old things that are just waiting to depart, so i’m getting as much done as I can. We might have to find a small loan. It might be cheaper than trying to find other ways to finance. The problem isn’t getting a loan. The problem is paying it BACK.

      Like

  5. Fandango July 18, 2017 / 1:02 am

    Water heaters always seem to go at the worst times and when you least expect it. When we sold the house we owned right before the one we have now, we got a full-asking-price offer and the day the buyers had scheduled their home inspection just prior to closing, our water heater stopped heating the water and started pushing reddish-brown rusty water into our sinks, toilets, and showers. Yuck. Needless to say, our closing was delayed and we had to spend an extra, and unexpected geand

    Like

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 1:04 am

      Damn iPhone. It posted before I finished. Anyway, we had to spend an unexpected grand to replace it. So I feel your pain.

      Like

      • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:12 am

        Yup. But this could be worse. I’m not sure how, though. If it had waited a couple of months, that would have been a big help. It’s the “everything at once” thing, you know? But at least it’s summer!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Taswegian1957 July 18, 2017 / 1:49 am

    I honestly think that hot water heaters are purposely manufactured to fail just after the warranty runs out. We had three at our old house in 25 years so I started to feel like anything more than 8 years for a tank was a bonus. The first two were hot water tanks, the third instantaneous gas heating which was still going when we left.I’m on the second tank in this house in fifteen years. I would love to get instantaneous heating or solar or something other than a tank but as you say the alternatives are usually more expensive and I’ve never been in the position of buying a new system because I wanted it. It has usually been a case of get something quick because the laundry is flooded and there is no hot water. I wash clothes in cold water sometimes but dishes-never going to be better.

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 1:56 am

      We do laundry in cold water, but there are showers and dishes and they don’t do well in cold. I’m in that same position. The basement is flooded, though it will dry. It’s the basement, so it won’t ruin someone else’s ceiling and below this is just dirt. But it’s a mess. About 100 sodden towels and the basement is still wet. Showers using our well water will be VERY cold. We need a quick fix. I’m just pissed off that this expensive tank broke so quickly.

      Like

  7. Ben July 18, 2017 / 2:35 am

    Ironically I just negotiated for a home warranty for just those kinds of eventualities. You pay a yearly fee of say $500 and a fixed service fee ($65 – $70) per use. Supposedly can save thousands in repairs. A good plan covers a lot of stuff

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 5:54 am

      Just what I had when the LAST water heater blew up. They paid for for the water heater. The whined and bitched about paying for the pipes to attached it, though they finally did — then canceled the policy. That’s what a good insurance company does, you know. Cancel you the day after you actually have a claim. They love clients who never make claims.

      Like

  8. draliman July 18, 2017 / 2:51 am

    You could have boiled a kettle for your washing up 🙂

    The formula for life expectancy of any appliance is very simple – warranty plus 1 month. Somehow if you buy an extended warranty (which typically costs as much as the appliance) the appliance will last that little bit longer. They probably adjust the timer on the destructo-widget before installation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 5:50 am

      It’s the only possible explanation. I remember when my super double Radon hard drive died. It was exactly 48 hours after the warranty ran out. Of course, it really didn’t matter because getting a new not-so-fancy drive was like — 80 bucks? it was all the lost data that really sucked and they weren’t going to pay for that, anyway.

      This, on the other hand … I’m just tired. The cold showers are not alluring.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. evilsquirrel13 July 18, 2017 / 4:06 am

    Ouch! I’m sorry the problems are mounting up. Reminds me of 2014 when, within a span of half a year, I had my AC unit stolen, had a pipe burst on my water heater, AND had to replace my furnace. And that’s just the stuff I felt like I needed to fix. Funny how my realtor talked me into purchasing a homeowner warranty that was good for the first year I owned my house……. not a single damned thing went wrong that first year!!!

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 5:46 am

      Mine was good for the year too and it covered the now blown water heater. Sadly, not the dead well pump because — it wasn’t part of the house. It was 25 feet away and attached to the house (it was hit by lightning). But we managed to get this fancy shmancy water heater before they took it away. I’m trying to be gracious and good natured about this. Is it working?

      Home ownership. Bah. Humbug.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. DailyMusings July 18, 2017 / 6:29 am

    My mother in law always used to say every time she needed to fix something in her old house, “Money to the devil” the list becomes endless after a while. So sorry for the hot water problems- not fun living without it!!

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 9:33 am

      At least it is summertime. At least this isn’t the middle of January. That WOULD be worse.

      Like

      • DailyMusings July 18, 2017 / 1:05 pm

        You are so right- now that’s putting a positive spin on it! 🙂

        Like

  11. loisajay July 18, 2017 / 8:07 am

    Ugh, I don’t like ‘liking’ this but I feel your pain, Marilyn. That is the one thing that scares me about retiring–running out of money. Cause you know soon as I decide to retire my already old house is going to blow up!

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 9:32 am

      Houses are always ready to blow up. It’s just that fixing them gets much harder when you don’t have a “real” income coming in. Having a water heater blow is pretty normal (messy) stuff. I has happened at least once in every home I’ve lived in and this is the second time in this house. It would be nice if they warned you before they dropped 50 gallons of water all over the basement, but they don’t and they can be fine one day and gone five minutes after you last looked.

      I don’t know what to tell you except yeah, they do that. We have limited means, so we do the best we can and some stuff slides because you don’t have the funds. A lot of things have been sliding here and the tank was unexpected since we actually DID fix it not long ago. I’m trying not to let this make me crazy. Trying. NOT. To. Let. This. Make. Me. Crazy. (gibber gibber gibber)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. swo8 July 18, 2017 / 11:45 am

    Our hot water heater is about 10 years old so it could go at any time. We have our fingers crossed. Hope you get yours sorted out soon, Marilyn.
    Leslie

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 3:42 pm

      Water heaters are completely erratic. A crappy one might last a dozen years and a fancy one for five. I don’t even know WHY they blow up. A seam? Good luck. You should start looking to replace it before it pops. It’s such a mess when they go … and they ALWAYS go.

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 July 18, 2017 / 5:11 pm

        It’s on our mind.

        Like

  13. Patience July 18, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    I sympathize! When hurricane Isabel went through Virginia while I was living there, we went two weeks without power (and thus no hot water). Even in September in Virginia taking a cold shower wasn’t fun. I hope you get it fixed soon, and that it’s not too expensive.

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 3:43 pm

      I’m hoping we get it fixed tomorrow. We are doing sponge baths at the moment. Our well water is REALLY icy cold. It will cost somewhere around $1000, maybe a bit less. That’s what they cost.

      Like

  14. Covert Novelist July 18, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    How did the door replacement and doggy door GO? I’m sorry about your water heater. My daughter lost 3 in 5 years and twice the warranty had expired. They had to fight for replacements as it was a factory defect. Hopefully you didn’t have water gushing all over the place.

    Like

    • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 3:44 pm

      The door is in the basement, but not yet on the door. The doggy door is in a box in the kitchen, waiting FOR the door. And we are waiting for the plumber and a guy to clean out the gutters.

      Like

        • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 4:45 pm

          Everything is in the works and nothing is done. I am trying really really hard to be patient and let things work out. I can get pretty frantic and hysterical if I don’t reign it in.

          Like

          • Covert Novelist July 18, 2017 / 7:36 pm

            I find patients more difficult these days. I think it’s age and ability, when it takes twice as long to accomplish things, and others have the ability and don’t care enough to do what’s necessary, it gets annoying. Just saying

            Like

            • Marilyn Armstrong July 18, 2017 / 7:57 pm

              It’s like getting workman to come over and do the jobs. Don’t they want to get paid? I don’t understand what’s wrong with everyone.

              Like

  15. cordeliasmom2012 July 18, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    My house, and my car, seem to know if I come into any unexpected cash – say a bonus at work, or gift money, or something. As soon as I have a little extra that could be used for, say, stocking the non-existent wine cellar, the house or the car decides something needs to be fixed RIGHT NOW. Never fails.

    Like

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