So close to hot showers! So close.

Indoor running hot water has proven a much bigger technical challenge than we ever anticipated. Other neighbors with bigger budgets have done it so we know what’s needed. But there’s a reason I still have to heat water for dishwashing and bathe out of a bucket after all these years.

You can simply rig up a conventional water heater. It’s relatively easy to do. The fact that we’ve done it three times so far and all three failed within a year gave us a clue that there’s more to success than that.

The core problem is how hard the well water is. The Total Dissolved Solids measured at my kitchen faucet are 836 parts per million. Average townie tap water measures far less than half that. A typical water heater contains a lot of orifices, and the well water here just sees an orifice as a leak to be repaired. And that doesn’t even mention its corrosive effect on any iron plumbing. With untreated water no heater will ever last long.

That means that before we can heat water for showers we need a water softener. And before we can have a water softener we need water pressure far higher than gravity permits. So the “Let’s build a shower” project has been … complex. But cracking it was Landlady’s self-assigned project for 2020.

First and most expensive: Artificially increase water pressure. This turned into an independent clusterfark because [reference previous whining about local contractors]. There were all sorts of side issues – it unexpectedly became a neighborhood project, but we did eventually succeed. And repair some resulting water damage along the way…

Anyway – that made a water softener possible. Landlady knocked that out of the park all by herself in only two visits. (Recall that each visit requires approx. 10 hours drive time, so time on target is limited and effort expended is almost ridiculous for the results achieved per trip.) The water softener functions and consumes salt, currently to no measurable purpose.

Anyway anyway – this past weekend was to kick off but almost certainly not complete the water heater installation: The thing all this summer’s effort was about.

And when we got it out of the box, it turned out we were going to accomplish almost nothing. Because…

Some idiot had dropped it and then sold it anyway – and Landlady drove it all the way from the Big City without having any way of knowing that.

There was discussion about using it anyway – but there’s a lot of stuff in that little housing, and much of it involves burning gas, and we don’t have any way of telling how much if any of the innards are damaged. So we boxed it up and she spent a lot of time on the phone to Home Depot.

We did get some preliminary work done in preparation for mounting the heater, but all in all it was something of a let-down.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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3 Responses to So close to hot showers! So close.

  1. Norman says:

    I realize that any media effective enough to provide reasonable benefit will have a short service life, but have filters been tried?

  2. Joel says:

    Yeah, actually it’s best to have a canister filter upstream of the softener. Understanding that you’ll be replacing that filter a lot.

  3. Mike says:

    Aside from the line filter, you are going to have to be particular with the salt you use because water softener salts are not created equal. My water is really hard and heavy with rust so I use Windsor Salt with Rust Remover. Without this, the toilets and siks turn a lovely rust color withing a month.

    Another thing, every month I run a product called Pro Products Rust Out RO12N Well Water Softener Cleaner through the watersoftener. This is to keep the water softener media working. Otherwise the beads get so gunked up the softener doesn’t soften any more.

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