This Old House, Glaser Edition

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Monk and the Broken Heater

We apologize. This Old House, Glaser Edition, has been on hiatus for the past three months. There was no writer's strike. None of them were asking for more pay. Any pay would be nice, actually. It just happened. Get over it!

Last January, Steve began investigating the case of the broken heater and ended up solving into a much bigger case than originally thought. While Tammy sat glued to the one-eyed monster, watching episodes of Monk, Steve lived it! He put all the seemingly unrelated pieces together in true Monk fashion.

Here's what happened!

In our last episode, Steve noticed that the downstairs heating unit was not kicking in, which he thought was strange. It was the coldest day of the year on a Saturday night. So, he went outside and checked the breakers. They were all fine. So, he figured he would have to call the A/C repairman on Monday. So then Steve, who loves doing chores at odd hours of the day (sound like Monk?) went to wash the dishes. And, he noticed there was no hot water. And then, Steve knew there was a connection. He didn't know what, but he knew these events were somehow connected.

So, once again, he went outside and checked all of the breakers and found everything working normally. So then, Steve realized it was time to look at the hot water heater in the cellar. Steve cranked the comely winch to the cellar door, headed down the steps, tried to the defective light, and turned around to get a flashlight. To his great horror, he encountered an underground swimming pool with about two feet of water, quickly in danger of becoming a skating rink. Did we say that it was the coldest night of the year?

Steve realized that the relief valve to the hot water heater had failed, and water was gushing out of it as if it were a fountain. He ran outside to the sidewalk and shut down the main water line. Then, he knew what had happened. The relief valve failed and flooded the cellar, which in turn covered the heating unit condensation drain sump and automatically shut off the heating unit to prevent water from backing up into its coils. We ran out of hot water because the tank emptied itself into the cellar. So there we were on Saturday night, faced with no access to plumbers, pumps, etc. All hardware stores in the area were closed because of the lovely blue laws, so we had no access to bilge pumps or even boat pumps. We tried Plan A, better known as the wet-vac, to empty out the basement!

Did you hear that giant sucking sound? That was Plan A, which failed miserably. Nobody liked it, but we turned to Plan B. You already know it was the coldest day of the year, and the stores were all closed. The water was near freezing. And, there we were . . . the bucket brigade . . . breaking our backs, freezing our buns, emptying out the basement.

Several hundred gallons later, Steve, with his Monk-like vision, noticed an ancient sump pump sitting in a corner, hard-piped to a discharge line to the backyard. Steve said, "Let's give it a try!" Taking every precaution to not get electrocuted, he got out of standing water and stood on the wooden steps. Tammy held a towel, ready to wrap around Steve's rib cage and yank him away if he started to smoke. (In a former life, we were both Naval officers and gentlemen by an act of Congress and knew how to handle electricity and water). Miraculously, this pump came to life.

We danced for joy as the water flowed out of the basement through this discharge hose at a rate of several hundred gallons per minute. The water level in the basement dropped dramatically. Our hearts soared. Then, the unthinkable happened. . . Tune in for the final episode, tomorrow. Unless it takes another three months to write!


  • 3 months! I can't wait three months to find out what happened.

    Please please tell us soon. Did the sump pump break down?

    Did you all throw in the towel and go to the local motor inn for the night?

    Details, soon, please.


    By Blogger Marita, at 6:01 PM  

  • No! The ancient sump pump works . . . until you get the plug wet.

    Throw in the towel? NEVER! Steve would toss and turn all night worrying about the dual-heater crisis!

    By Blogger The Glasers, at 10:06 PM  

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