24 July, 2010

Water Heater Fcuk-Up Averted

Talk about luck! Our on-demand, gas-fired water heater quit working a couple of days ago. We figured it was simply dead batteries at first. It soon became more complicated than that. I next thought maybe it was the piezoelectric igniter that had failed, just as they used to do with our barbecue. Replacing it, I thought, would be no big deal.

This morning was the first opportunity I had to really take a whack at it. So after breakfast, I trundled off downstairs and proceeded to crack it open to see what was what.
Big Hole in Heater
The rather large hole smack in the middle of the heat exchanger part was not what I expected to see. I knew then that even if the piezoelectric igniter was out of whack, it didn't make a bit of difference in the overall scheme of things. I was going to have to dip into the piggy bank to solve this thing.

I went to three different places to see what they had for wall-mounted on-demand heaters.

Villa's had a couple of wall-mounted electric heaters, not what I wanted. Our electric bill is big enough, thanks to the pool, without adding to the mix.

National Hardware had a round, floor-mounted 5.5 gallon conventional water heater. I wasn't interested in that either. Anything that heats water 24-hours a day is so old school.

The last place I went was Lano's Supply. I looked at a couple heaters. I saw the first one they showed me, all nice and shiny. Nope. Don't need that one. Probably costs too much. I looked at a plain-Jane white one. Only one problem - no manual. A deal breaker. Our old water heater came with a manual. Thankfully, it was illustrated. as the only English words in it were "Water Heater" on the cover.
No Pretense At Engrish Here
Mr. Lan asked why I didn't want the other heater. I said I didn't need shiny-shiny down stairs. He said that it was the same price as the white one, and the manual came in English. Wow! Deal maker. I bought it.
Oooh Pretty!
 I got the new one installed quickly. The screw-mount holes lined up exactly, as did the fittings. Well, with the exception of the cold water inlet. I managed to cross-thread that and had to make only one additional trip to Lano's for spare parts. A major feat in itself.

Here's a look at the manual:
New Heater Manual Cover
I don't know that I'd say it was really in English - more like Engrish. Although, it's easy enough to sort out what they're talking about. It's mostly quaint wording that gives you a chuckle as you're working (Yes, I read the complete manual before attempting the installation).

Engrish - Better Than Nothing
Even though I didn't know it, Mr Lan said the old heater did have some safety interlock kind of stuff in it that helped prevent a total catastrophe. He assured me the new one does too. It even says so in the manual... after a fashion.


Anonymous said...

B-b-but wot happen? Wot fcuk-up number 1 heater?


Dave Rider said...

Hi Isaias,

Well, that's a good question. I really don't know. I suspect it was a defect in the metal surrounding the heat exchanger and probably happened over time. Canadian Bob had something similar happen a couple of years ago that started as a pin-sized hole in his and grew over time to look similar to this one. I think it's also called a 'dry combustion' in the manual (the one I can read). Kinda scary, but, the safety features did work. The gas and water were cut off as soon as it sensed something majorly wrong and so, prevented the house burning up or flooding the downstairs.
I don't know if this is common or not. It's something I'll check for in the future. To check, it does require removing the heater cover and giving it the once-over. Another part of the routine I guess.


Larry said...

Dave and Dianna,

That heater looked just peachy when you showed it to me in April. Amazing that it didn't really cause some major damage and kudos for the safety features!

You guys might want to think about some sort of automatic sprinkler system (or just one or two heads) near your new heater. All you need is a source of water pressure and the fire heads.

As far as flooding goes, there are cheap little battery operated devices (called 'leak frogs') that send out a shrill squeal when moisture wets their 'feet'. Cost about US $7.00 or so. - I got mine off of '' and they've saved my undersink shelving on TWO occasions when the sinks overflowed...

Anyway, the new on-demand heater is looking pretty classy!

Your guest house is looking great, as is the pool!