Saturday, March 01, 2014

Just another quiet Saturday morning

The good news is that my headcold is almost gone. I woke up feeling remarkably good and looking forward to a quiet Saturday at home.

I brought the dogs in and fed them in their kennels, then sat down on the couch with a bowl of cereal.

The first sign of trouble came when Maria decided to put the dogs out and lost control of them. Dora raced into the living room and jumped up onto the couch with me, which is a happy thing.

Then I heard Maria shouting at Jack to “drop it” and saw him charging into the living room via the kitchen, dining room, and foyer with a chewed-open ZipLoc bag of flour in his mouth and laying a thick trail of flour behind him.

We got him stopped halfway through the living room and persuaded him to surrender his prize before being ushered out into the back yard.

Maria went after the flour with a broom and dustpan, fearing the vacuum would create a floury cloud.

I followed up with the Hoover, but once I got to the foyer and adjusted the beater brush for a shorter carpet nap, it locked up and burned one or both belts.

Fortunately, I had a ShopVac in reserve and found it did a better job getting up the flour than did the Hoover.

Flour cleaned up, but now a vacuum to repair, necessitating a trip sometime soon to the hardware store for replacement belts.

We’re expecting an ice storm tomorrow and likely power outages, so it seemed like a good time to wrap the water heater that serves our bathroom with the fiberglass jacket I got last week from

After clearing away six years of spider webs and accumulated dust, I discovered that whoever installed the water heater put it almost flush against a wall – too close to pass the jacket around.

Fortunately, the water lines to and from the heater are flexible, allowing for the heater position to be adjusted. Unfortunately, a 60-gallon water heater holds 480 pounds of water, making it too heavy for me to shift.

Undaunted, I set about retrieving the hose, which I attached to the drain valve, shut off the water and electric supply to the heater and opened the valve with a screwdriver. But no water drained. WTF?

The water heater owner’s manual, which lives in a large accordion folder with dozens of other operator’s manuals for most of the devices and appliances we own, says to open a nearby hot water faucet to relieve the vacuum. I did, with no significant improvement in the trickle of water.

Then I noticed the hot water relief valve on the upper right side of the heater and opened it. A gurgling sound commenced and I saw water beginning to flow – not gush, just flow – out of the hose onto the driveway.

I was disturbed to notice the escaping water carried chunks of what look like calcium, which suggests this draining is long overdue and may be too little and too late to rescue the water heater from death by calcification.

So now I’m at my desk, waiting for the heater to drain enough to be shifted so I can wrap it in fiberglass, refill it and turn the electricity back on.

Then I can fix the vacuum and prepare for the ice apocalypse.

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