The 'Little house' Needs Lot's Of Work... All 384-ft^sq.
Monday... I worked the morning while Shauna went shopping and to to visit her mother. Her mother lives on the other side of town. She came back a little frustrated because her mother would not let her take a shower there and that upset her a bit. It wasn't really a big inconvenience. We have been here about three weeks and although I made a minor repair attempt the shower was still not functional. On top of that we were told that there was only enough hot water to wash your hands. A week or so earlier I had replaced the shower head (minor repair) with one that had a shutoff valve. I figured that if you could shut off the water when you were soaping up then it would extend the hot water availability. Replacing the shower head went well but when I closed the valve it became evident why the hot water was so limited. Water just poured out of the faucet. The hot/cold water valve seal was completely blown out. No wonder the the shower was useless. So... Her we are, three weeks later, and still there is no shower. Shauna was so upset that I decided I would try to rebuild the bad valve. I had already replaced the valve-seats and washers in the sink and I figured the shower would be just as easy. I went down to the local hardware supplier and purchased a universal rebuild kit for the valve. It 'was' one of those kinds that are hot and cold in one valve. No pressure adjustment (always full) only hot and cold mixture on one rotary control. I hate it. I had also never worked on that type of valve before. I was also too lazy to venture under the house (as small as it is) and turn off the main water supply. Remember this is a cold weather climate in the winter so all the plumbing is buried below the frost line and comes up under the house where it can't freeze. So I decided that since it was a shower I would just remove the valve, have the water pour into the shower while I replaced the o-rings and seals. Wrong... When I went to remove the valve it wouldn't turn (probably because of the water pressure) so I tried to persuade the valve with a rather large pipe-wrench. Well... The water started to pour out but not from the right place. So I turned the valve the other way (with the way too large wrench) and the valve broke. There was water everywhere but in the shower. Within seconds there was about an inch of standing water in the bedroom making it's way quickly to the kitchen. The bathroom was also flooding. The shower however was relatively dry. Not really good for bathing. Ok, so now the house is flooding, fast, and I have no idea where the shutoff valve is only a suspicion. I do know however that under the worst case I could run out to the back of the pastures (several hundred feet) and there is a shutoff for the main feed, on the hillside, where the water line comes down from the spring. Only I share that line with the beef farmers next door. Yes my water is all gravity fed from springs in my mountain. By the way... The cats absolutely love the fresh water here. They have never drank as much as they do now. In fact we can't fill their bowls (or clean the litter box) fast enough. Anyway... I ran outside, took off the cover for the crawlspace and dove under the house. Now it turns out that the shower is directly above the crawlspace entrance and there was literally a waterfall pouring down in front of it. But Alas I had no choice but to dive in, crawl to the far corner, where indeed a main shutoff was to be found. For all of you people out there designing houses remember this lesson. There is a shutoff less than an arms reach from the wall but the access to the valve is on the opposite corner. I hope you realize the impracticality of this configuration. So I turned the water off and returned upstairs only to find Shauna soaking towels and squeezing out the water as fast as she can. And the water is still toe deep. Just then Irene and Joanne show up and the three of them take up the task of damage control so I went off to the hardware store to buy a new valve. I returned shortly (the hardware store is only 30 seconds up the highway) with a new valve. When I compared the form factors I quickly realized that there was no way this was going to work (easily or inexpensively) with the existing valve. So I went, once again, to the hardware store. I had no problem exchanging the valve I bought for a more compatible one. They were happy to open all the boxes and let me find the best match. I finally settled on one that was a little more work than I wanted but at least fit in the space of the old one and required only minor adapting to the existing piping.
Alright... The plumbing is fixed. The valve works great. The shower-head cutoff works great. Will the water heater hold up. Its about 12 in. by 12 in. and doesn't even come up to my waist. It's also square. I've never seen anything like it. I figure it's somewhere between 15 to 20 gallons max. But low and behold... Not only does it work. It works great. Plenty of hot water. Whew! The shower is a little small though. In fact it's so small you can't really even bend down to pick up the soap or your knees and butt would get wedged in the walls. Better be careful. Oh yeah... The curtain is a little short also so water (and quite a bit) gets on the bathroom floor. But it does get you clean so it qualifies as a true shower.
In the midst of all this I had a teleconference in the late afternoon which was fast approaching. Fortunately. The water was now drained. The tools were put away. The computers were unaffected. Back to work.