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cold shower

By 6:04 AM , , , , ,


cold shower
Originally uploaded by looseid


"That looks like a regurgitated churro," I thought to myself.

The plumber stood there as he held up a corroded metal rod about 18" long to show me, which was at the very root of the problem. The problem being the truncated and chilled showers of late.

I've been very unhappy with my showers. As a result, they have become brief and infrequent. For social animals, this is headed in the wrong direction; the shower taking had become so uncomfortable that I actually have been avoiding it more and more. I love showers. I love water and I love being swathed in towels. But for about the past 6 months, I've noticed a rapid decline in the temperature on the "H" knob. The water is never as hot as it should be and what warmth it delivers, only lasts about 4 minutes at best. My teeth are chattering by the time I draw the shower curtain.

Additionally, this problem affects dishwashing, cleaning, mopping and laundry. Water activities I do not favor as much as showers, therefore not as big of an issue.

Anyway, I suspected that the water heater had some sediment buildup that was impeding its overall performance. Luckily, my father with his usual foresight, gave me a subscription to Handyman magazine. He must have figured, if I couldn't nab an actual handy man, a 12-month magazine subscription should suffice. Right-oh. In the February issue this year, that exact task of draining your hot water heater was carefully outlined.

I had serious doubts about having carried out the task correctly back then. And now, those suspicions were being confirmed, as the showers had become unbearable. If I didn't correct this matter immediately, I would soon become a fringe character in a short story, who is found dead in her armchair after being mauled by rats and raccoons. And the neighbors would whisper, as they cross the once forbidden threshold,

"No wonder, it smells like a sewer in here!"

"Well, she never bathed..."

The next morning, I hadn't even completed my rinse and repeat, much less my conditioner phase, when the water went icy cold. It was time to call the professionals.

The plumber interrupted my silent scream (as I stared at the most disgusting looking piece of metal) with the two options of either 1) replacing the rod or 2) replace the entire water heater.

Option numero uno. It's a metal rod, no brainer. Knowing how much it cost to replace the water heater 5 years ago ($1500), I opted for the rod. It's not made of platinum. Or, is it.

Well, to my surprise, it may as well have. That silly little thing that looks like a dowel wrapped in aluminum foil (churro wrapped in foil!) cost me over $200. It's a magnesium anode, which attracts impurities to it, thereby keeping the interior wall of the heater safe from corrosion. It's like a Britta filter for your house. Once it's run its course, though, it truly looks like something that you forgot to pull out from a deep fryer. A rough and thick golden brown layer coats the once smooth silvery surface, and the calcium deposits look like granulated sugar. With no magnesium exposed to attract impurities, the water heater will soon be compromised.

That night, much to my surprise and delight, my showers were back to being piping hot and shamefully long. I would have taken a photo of that churro-rod, but I was too disgusted to think of it. At the same time, I replaced the antique brass showerhead with a more "green" one.

Hey, if this little improvement can keep me from becoming a tragic urban footnote, it's a bargain.

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