We finally got it

Today, after being delayed for … two months? … more? … I was able to pick up the replacement hot water tank.

The current hot water tank is still working. There is no longer a puddle under it, though there is a scale build up along the seam of the bottom cap. It must be a small enough leak that leaving the panel off is allowing for evaporation to keep it from actually puddling anymore.

I went to a different town to get it; one we don’t normally go to. In fact, I’d forgotten the franchise the tank is from even had a location there. The location we’d picked up the last tank from has gone full mask nazi and doesn’t even allow the Mingle Mask or shields. I’d heard this town has been more sane. I phoned first, to make sure they had one in stock available for a warranty replacement. It took a while; I got the impression they don’t get warranty replacements very often! 😀

Once that was all figured out and I said I could be there this afternoon, I mentioned that I am medically exempt from wearing a mask. The guy I was talking to said that would be no problem, and that there were quite a few people in town that were also exempt, adding that it wasn’t their job to police people over it. That was very reassuring. When I got there, I walked in, everyone else was masked up, but no one said a thing. It was so nice to not be given a hard time or have to justify myself!

Once the paperwork was done, I drove over to one of their buildings in the back to pick it up. I got to chat with a really nice and interesting young man who loaded it into the van for me. He’d had me back right into the building, so when I got out, I found myself surrounded by stacks of plywood, which reminded me we need a couple of sheets to make a floor for the trailer frame my brother found tires for. I asked how much a sheet of 3/4″ plywood cost, and he got someone on the radio to find a price for me. It turned out to be about $145 for a single sheet! That’s just for the rough stuff. He told me the type that are smooth on both sides is actually a bit cheaper. !! My husband and price checked in the city, at a different franchise, and they were about $85 a sheet.

When my daughters worked for that particular franchise, before we moved, a sheet cost about $35.

Not only have prices gone through the roof, but supply is really low. He told me of people driving across three provinces to get the supplies they needed, because nothing was available closer!

It makes me wonder just how much more it would cost to replace our roof at this point. When we got the estimates, they were both just under $9000. Assuming that they would find damage under certain areas, for which both companies charged by the square foot to repair, we figured $10,000 was a reasonable expectation for the final amount. Of course, we don’t have that, and with so many unexpected bills over the past couple of years, saving up for it has been pretty much impossible. I hope that, by the time we do find the money, the supply issues will be resolved and prices will become more reasonable!

During the drive to and from this town, I noticed something interesting. This town is about a half hour’s drive north of us. Not that far. Yet, I could still see quite a few patches of snow that haven’t melted yet and – most encouraging of all – water! There were several ponds that were almost full, and even standing water in some ditches. It was nice to see that not everywhere is quite as dry as we are!

But I digress.

We have the new tank, and it awaits installation. After having the same thing happen to two new tanks, we’re tempted to keep using the leaking tank for a bit longer. Even if it’s just for the summer. I wouldn’t want to lose hot water in the winter again!

The Re-Farmer

Not a day to go out!

Well, I’m certainly glad my daughter and I have telephone medical appointments this afternoon, and don’t have to actually go anywhere.

As I write this, we are at -34C/-29.2F, with a wind chill of -39C/-38.2F

It has actually warmed up a bit.

The heated water bowl is almost completely frosted over! Only a couple of cats came out into the cold. Their food bowls are still pretty full – even the one inside the cat house – but I added some fresh kibble, anyhow. The sun room is at -12C/10.4F, so it’s still frozen. They like the fresh kibble better; I think it’s easier on their teeth.

At these temperatures, I didn’t even try to switch out the trail cam memory cards. I doubt our vandal would be engaging in nefarious things in this weather. Plus, we still have the hard wired security camera to keep an eye on things.

Meanwhile, I’ve made the call to the number on our leaking hot water tank. I now have an authorization number and need only to go to the store it was purchased at, with the sticker from the tank, to get a replacement. He even saw on the file that this was already a warranty replacement tank, but he asked no questions.

At these temperatures, however, I am not going anywhere. Even if we lost hot water completely, we’d just go back to heating water on the stove as needed. I suspect it’s actually a good thing the tank is leaking the way it is, instead of water pooling on the bottom as it did, last time. That is probably the only reason why it’s not doing the weird things the other one started to do, since the water isn’t reaching anything sensitive; just making the insulation damp. Just a guess on my part.

Thankfully, this polar vortex that’s hitting us should last only a few days. By Wednesday, we should be back up to a more typical -21C/-5.8F. By Friday – which is when the van is going in to be checked – it is forecast to reach a balmy -10C/14F.

It’s going to feel like spring! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Are you kidding me??

It’s past 1 am as I write this, but I just had to.

I went down into the old basement to treat the hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide before going to bed. This is what I found.

It’s leaking!

(That ring of minerals on the concrete is not new; it’s been there since the last time we had issues.)

We don’t go into the old basement often (and with the cats, we’ve put all the most breakable stuff into the old basement and blocked off the opening between the two basements, so there was no chance of kittens falling into the sump pump reservoir or otherwise hurting themselves). The last time anyone went down there, that I can remember, was my daughter, the last time the tank was treated. I called her over to see, and confirmed it wasn’t leaking the last time she was down there.

In trying to see where it was leaking it appeared to be coming from the bottom access panel, too. So we opened it up.

Yup. It’s been reaching that high!!

We’ve left the panel off. Tomorrow, I will call the number on the tank to talk about getting a replacement under warranty.


For those who are new to the blog, when we first moved here, this place still had the tank that was installed when my dad got the well dug near the house and installed running water. He got the tank second hand. When cleaning up the basements, I found the old warranty certificate and bill of sale for it, dated 1963, if I remember correctly.

It died shortly after we moved in.

Long story short, we went without hot water until we could afford to get a plumber to replace the tank for us.

That worked out well for a while, until the water started to get hotter and hotter, all on its own. We called the plumber and he changed the thermostat, but that’s when we discovered that it had started leaking at the bottom. When he opened the bottom panel, he found the insulation saturated with water.

Not long after that, we lost hot water completely.

We then had issues with discovering the local hardware store it was purchased at, not doing warranty replacements. I tried working with the company directly before finally finding a branch someplace else that had would honor the warranty. We then had to get the plumber back to install it for us, and it’s been working fine ever since. The only issue is one we’ve had since replacing the original tank; the hot water would start to get a sulfur smell. Every month or so, we would drain the tank a bit, then use the vacuum created to suction hydrogen peroxide through a hot water tap in what used to be the laundry sink. It needs to sit for at least 4 hours, so we would do it before bed, so the water could be used in the morning.

It’s been about 1 1/2 years since that tank was replaced under warranty. And not it’s happening again.

What the heck is going on? How does a second hand tank last for nearly 40 years, but new tanks aren’t even making it 2 years?

But at least we still have hot water. I guess it’s a good thing it started visibly leaking this time, before we started having problems. We don’t have the water getting super hot, like the tank started having issues last time. It’s “just” leaking.

This is ridiculous!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: old hot water tank

Today, it was back to the old basement to finally do something about the old hot water tank that died on us, shortly after we moved here.

A job that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped in some ways, while better than I hoped in others! 😀

Here is the state of the tank, before I started.

You can see that the bottom of the tank is quite rusted out and falling apart. The top, however, is still quite secure. It’s held in place by 4 screws, so I thought I’d try to take those off, first.

The first challenge was to figure out what type of screwdriver to use. They were so full of grit, I at first thought I’d need a star tip, but after digging some crud out with the tip of a box cutter, I discovered they needed a square tip.

Not that it mattered. The screws immediately stripped, as soon as I tried to loosen them. They weren’t going to move.

I was able to get the access panels on the side off easily enough, since they were barely put back on before the tank was moved.

I should note that yes, I was wearing safety gear before I started.

The bottom came off quite easily, and all sorts of rotted insulation and rust started to fall out!

I had a box ready for the smaller pieces of metal, and garbage bags for the insulation. I was using the old ash shovel as a dust pan as I swept up the smaller stuff, trying as much as possible not to kick dust up. Impossible, of course, but I could at least minimize it a bit, and using a shovel for a dust pan gave me a bit of distance as I worked.

Then, I took out insulation through the access panels. It wasn’t as rotten, higher up, but still…

… lots of rust on there!

I then had a couple of problems to work around. The screws on the top weren’t going to come out. I even tried a crow bar, but couldn’t get the leverage. The tank has a seam that I hoped to pop open, but that was more solid than the rest of the tank. Even if I opened it, though, it would hang up on the drain pipe near the base.

Then I remembered something.

In my late brother’s work shop, which we are now using to store all my parents’ stuff as we clear out the house, we found a pair of cutters. My oldest bother spotted them and told me they were sheet metal cutters. So I brought it to the house, and my husband sharpened them (they really needed a sharpening!).

They cut through the metal beautifully!

Cutting where the access panel openings where made it much easier. I also cut to the drain pipe so the metal could be pulled up around it, as well as going as close to one of the screws in the top panel as I could.

After yanking on it a bit, the outer shell panel broke free from the top cap and the whole thing popped open!

So. That’s what it looks like on the inside!

The next while was spent removing more insulation, taking off the springs that held the bands in place, and pulling out some of the wiring. I was also able to basically tear off the cap without any extra cutting near the screws. The metal of the shell tore pretty easily at the screws, once it started to open up.

In the process, I discovered a problem.

That cylinder is where all the weight is – and as I manhandled it, I could hear water sloshing inside! Yes, we let it drain before it was removed, but there’s no way to get all of it out completely, without cracking it open somehow.

This thing is heavy, and I needed to get the stuff out from under it. There wasn’t a lot of space to work in, either. (You can see the box with the new well pump waiting to be installed, and the jug of water that was intended to be used to prime the pump after installation.)

The first thing to do was clean up as much of the insulation as I could, then try and get the bands out from under it. I was able to get the bottom band out, a little at a time, but would not be able to do the same at the top. I had somewhere to grip and lift the bottom, but nothing to grip at the top. The obvious solution would have been to stand the cylinder up and move it off the shell, but there was simply no way to safely grasp the rounded top and lift that much weight.

I might not be able to stand it up, but thanks to that very strong drain pipe at the bottom, I could drag it!

And this is as far as it’s going to get for now!

I honestly don’t know how we’re going to safely get it out of the house. I had hoped that taking it apart would reduce the weight more than it did, but I probably took of maybe 10 pounds of material, in total. That’s barely noticeable.

As for the shell…

I could now remove the top band and use the shovel and broom to get rid of the majority of the insulation that had been crushed under the cylinder.

Then, I folded it.

And squished it.

Into a nice, flat pancake that could easily be moved.

It was very satisfying! 😀

The parts and pieces will be taken outside through the new part basement, with its safer stairs that are right next to the entryway door! But not until more of the snow has melted and we can reach the junk pile.

Next, I had to carefully clean up the dust and rust underneath. I wanted to make sure as little as possible could end up washed into the sump pump reservoir. I do NOT want this stuff clogging up the pump!

In the end, I used a wet mop to pick up as much as I could, because sweeping was just kicking up way too much dust.

I am so glad I was able to find these thicker masks at the pharmacy, before everyone went crazy and bought them all up. This is actually my second mask. One of the elastics broke on the first one. I have no more. I do still have some dust masks I’d found in the hardware store, but they’re not as thick as these ones.

Once I finished cleaning up the mess in the basement, I proceeded to take a shower, then put my clothes in the wash. Fiberglass insulation dust can be dangerous stuff. Especially when it’s as old and rotted out as this stuff was. When it comes time to take the garbage bags of insulation to the dump, I’ll have to make sure to keep them separate, so they go to the proper disposal area, and not with household garbage. I’ll also have to double bag them.

For now, I’m glad that the space in front of the pumps and tanks is finally clear of this thing. It’s been there for over 2 years! 😀 It’ll make it much easier for when the well pump gets replaced.

I’m looking into finding a filter to install between the well and the pump. Or pre-filter, these are apparently called. I’ve found several kinds, but I can’t tell if they are suitable for use with a deep well pump, rather than a shallower well pump. The problem is that the deep well pump has two hoses, one above the other. From the looks of how they are installed, the second hose would be in the way. It would be good to use one, though. They are designed just to filter out the bigger stuff, and should help extend the life of the pumps and tanks. I’ve sent some links to my older brother, who knows this system better than anyone, and hopefully he’ll be able to tell me something, one way or the other. Or, perhaps, inform me of something better to use.

At this point, I’ve done almost as much as can be done in the old basement. The other things that need doing are little things, like getting plastic utility shelves to replace the wood shelves on bricks, and organizing.

Which means we will now work on the new part basement.

Oh, that reminds me. I was chatting with my brother about the clean up I’d done so far, and commented on the collection of car batteries down there. I said that, unless he knows if any of them are still usable and he wants them, I would probably take them to the dump for proper disposal. He very adamantly told me not to do that. It turns out that these can be taken to a scrap yard, in the same way we plan to do with our aluminum collection. They will pay by the pound for the lead in them, and each battery can bring in quite a lot. He tells me that the amount of aluminum we have is probably enough to make it work taking in.

I figure we can do that in the spring. Anything we get from the aluminum or the batteries is going to go into a tax free savings account we set up for our contingency fund, and the money will go to replacing the roof.

It’ll take a while. Based on the two estimates we got, and assuming that they will find rot under there, we’re looking at $10,000 we have to come up with. Assuming no emergencies happen before then. 😦

Ah, well. For now, we just deal with what we can.

Like figuring out how to get that beast of a cylinder out of the basement!

The Re-Farmer

Got it

Today, I took advantage of a much warmer day (we reached -7C this afternoon) before the temperatures plummet again, and headed to a nearby city to see if we could get a replacement hot water tank.

I’d already phoned and had instructions, but we’d never been to this location before, so my daughter and I took the time to look around. We have been discussing a building project for the summer, that I will blog about later in the year, so we went to see if we could price out stuff like mortar and insulation.

It turns out this is not the hardware store we could go for these materials.

Then I went to customer service with my sticker from off our hot water tank.

In maybe 5 minutes, paperwork in hand, I drove around to the back of the building, to a particular shed, where a new replacement tank was ready and waiting for me.

It now sits in our dining room, waiting to be installed.

It was so fast and easy, I wish I’d thought of going somewhere else, long ago! Not one person I spoke to thought of it, either. It was certainly worth the hour and a half total in driving time!

One of the amazing things about it is how light it is. Compared to the old tank that got replaced shortly after we moved here, which is so heavy I intend to dismantle it and remove it piece by piece, rather than risk damaging the stairs with the weight, or someone getting injured taking it around to the other basement and hauling it out that way. Assuming it could even be moved to the other side of the stairs in the first place.

My daughters and I had wondered about how the old tank was brought down there in the first place. It occurred to me that it was probably installed while the new part of the house was still under construction. The new part basement would have been completely open, except for the support pillars, and there would have been just a wood burning furnace in the old part basement on one side, and the stairs on the other. The tank was probably brought from the new part basement, through the space now filled by the electric furnace.

Getting rid of the damaged tank will be much, much easier!

So now we just have to pay for the installation. I suppose we could install it ourselves, but I want the plumber to look at our well pump, too. Now that we don’t have to come up with the money for a new tank (the price was $419, before taxes), on top of the cost of labour, we’ll be able to get it done at the end of this month!

I am so looking forward to getting that done!

The Re-Farmer

We have a trailer… sortof

Yesterday, being Sunday, my daughter had a short shift and I was planning to stay in town again. I ended up meeting with my older brother and his wife, and we were able to spend a couple of wonderful hours together.

They are such great people!

At one point, we got to talking about how useful it would be for us to have a trailer, and how expensive new ones are. Apparently, there had been a small trailer by the garage, but it disappeared before we moved here.

Then they remembered.

We do still have a trailer.

Sort of.

They told me where it was, so when I did my evening rounds before it got dark, I went looking for it.

There it is!

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Matched Set, and hot water woes

When doing my morning rounds, I used to get followed by at least Beep Beep and Butterscotch. Sometimes, other cats would come along, but it was usually those two in particular. That changed after they had their kittens. Butterscotch no longer even likes to be picked up anymore (I think it has become uncomfortable for her) and she’s become a lot more stand-offish. Lately, I’ve been seeing her as infrequently as the male cats.

Beep Beep is a lot more homey and, while she doesn’t like being picked up as much as she used to either, it doesn’t seem to be out of any sort of discomfort. She has started to follow me again in the mornings, and the kittens are beginning to expand their territory.

Even Big Jim came out to see what was going on.

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