Happy Birthday to Me: Emergency Hot Water Heater Replacement

Of several facts I was already aware:

  • The hot water tank was tired and old, already past its “natural lifespan” of 9 years by about 5 additional years
  • The hot water tank’s pipes were crusted and gross
  • We have bad luck with hot water tanks
  • We have bad luck with plumbing in general


Right about when the main water line disaster was wrapping up, I started the process of replacing the tank.  Seems wise to replace the tank BEFORE it explodes, right?

So I picked out a few well-rated candidate tanks, put in a couple calls for estimates, and prepared psychologically for yet another major household purchase on our shoestring one-income budget.  I was about to leave town for 10 days, but I figured the tank had been sitting there fat and happy for 15 years, what was 10 more days?  I left for Illinois.


On the evening of December 12th this tank (or its pipes?) sprang a huge leak from the top.  The spray soaked the furnace, elliptical, most of the stuff stored nearby, and ruined my workout area carpet.  Of course by this time I was 3000 miles away in Florida, so Jim deserves a medal for being home and hearing the water spraying in the garage (and also for being up until 2am getting a handle on the flooding).

Well, all that research about getting The Perfectly Researched Tank went out the window and I called my favorite plumber (Top Gun plumbing woot) and took the only tank they offer – a 6 year Rheem model for $1350 (minus $100 for being such a recent customer, sweet!).

They did a great job – the job was done the same day I called, the install was clean, the new tank looks sturdy and high quality.  Seriously – if you live in the Puget Sound area, give Top Gun Plumbing a call next time something in your house is spraying water out of somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Process photos:

Laters, tank.

Does this empty platform and earthquake straps not look like something out of an S&M dungeon?

New replacement tank!!  And it’s better geared than the last one – behold the sweet temperature dial!

Also note the gold gift bow – this tank arrived the day before my birthday.  Hot water is a pretty sweet gift.


Lessons learned?

Plumbing can screw you whenever it wants, and it’s going to be messy and expensive.  All you can do is be prepared.

  • Keep a few gallons of water on hand so you have something to drink while your water’s turned off
  • Keep your stuff out of the the way
  • Have a few thousand dollars on hand (thanks Past Mandi, you’re a true friend!) for emergencies, because this shit will wait until you can least afford it

The only real casualty of this mess was my workout carpet, but that was old and filthy anyway (it was from one of this house’s bedrooms).

I hope this is the end of plumbing emergencies for a LONG while.


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