Redneck Water Heater: I violated the first rule of diagnosis…

“Check the simplest possibility first.”

Instead, when I hooked the solar heater to water and it wouldn’t flow…


…I jumped to the conclusion that something was kinked or gummed up in the rooftop box.

Which meant breaking out the big ladder…


Okay, the ladder needed servicing anyway so I got that done this morning as well and it wasn’t a complete waste, but that’s beside the point. I should have gone to the most obvious possibility…


…it’s plugged with scale at the lowest point.

And wow, was it ever. This is what I quickly scooped out of the bottom of the bucket after I cleared the hose. There was lots more where that came from…


And of course the pipe and spigot were also plugged…


But fortunately it was easy and simple to clean out. Not like it had solidified.


And so now…


My water heater is flowing again, and we’ll see if things have warmed up to the point where it actually gives me useable quantities of hot water. It was one of those ironic coincidences that I got this thing working a few years ago just in time for the shower to be completed at Ian’s Cave, so I only use it for washing dishes and it almost isn’t worth the bother: Depending on how I set the cover on the box the water is either not hot enough or so hot it delivers live steam and melts hose fittings. But when it’s working – during the rather narrow meteorological window when it’s working – it does save me some time and propane heating washing water.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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3 Responses to Redneck Water Heater: I violated the first rule of diagnosis…

  1. Tree Mike says:

    You’re lucky.

  2. Phssthpok says:

    I still think you should convert that ‘live steam’ generator into a ‘fresh water still’.

  3. Robert says:

    “rather narrow meteorological window” Flow with the seasons, Grasshopper.

    A few so-called thoughts:

    I disagree: “Check the simplest possibility first.” is second. First is “Don’t assume.” Third is “check the crap that -can’t possibly be the problem-“. Fourth is “swallow your pride and open your wallet for the guy who can fix it”. (Soul-baring disclosure: hiring a guy cost me money but saved me much time and heartache and in the end he learned a few “old school” things from me. It was worth almost every penny.)

    Joel, even with all the crucial hands-on problem solving needed to make living possible in your environment, you’re still way ahead on quality of life compared to us dependent city-slickers.

    Man, whoever comes up with a practical redneck water softener will be a frickkin’ legend. Probably still broke ’cause everybody savvy will steal the idea, but a legend nonetheless.

    Shameless claiming credit: I dun tole ya Mr. Sun could do useful work for cheap; you have abundant hot water. OK, sometimes TOO hot. When’re you gonna try solar cooking? Yeah, yeah, it’s friggin’ cloudy here and about to rain- I use my sun oven when it’s sunny and I don’t feel lazy. 🙂

To the stake with the heretic!