You don’t know how important something is until you suddenly have to do without it. After two weeks without hot running water in the house I have come to a whole new level of appreciation of that most divine of modern amenities. Indeed I feel I could suffer any other depredation with equanimity, if I could just take a hot shower.
We came back from a Disneyrific Orlando vacation to no hot water. That’s particularly bad because I never feel I get clean the whole time I’m staying in Orlando because it’s hot and sticky, and because all the water there smells like rotten eggs. Well, no problem, the pilot light had just gone out so I re-lit it. Problem solved… for one tank heating, then it went out again. I didn’t think it was the thermocouple that was defective because it worked just fine when initially lighting the pilot, but just to be sure, and because it’s cheap, I picked up a replacement thermocouple and put it in. Same exact behavior. We limped along for a couple of days re-lighting the pilot light frequently while I tried to figure out what else it cold be.
There are some good websites out there with diagnostic information for water heaters but they all follow “replace the thermocouple” with “call a professional”. The manufacturer of my heater wants $140 for a replacement thermostat, and considering that the heater was 18 years old we decided to just replace it.
First we looked into the tankless variety of heater which really appealed to me because of their high efficiency, and the fact that there is currently a significant tax rebate available to make them more affordable. What turns out to be a deal breaker on the tankless is that they require really specific venting and natural gas supply which made the cost of installation prohibitive in my case. For new construction though I’d highly recommend looking into a tankless heater.
So we called up a couple of local plumbers, got some quotes, and had a new one, much like the old one, installed. Ahhhh, I think I’m going to go take another hot shower just for the shear pleasure of it.