We are not in hot water

This is the story of how, at 10pm Saturday night, 40 gallons of water exited my home via a garden hose.

On Friday, we put Casa Philangelus on the market. It’s a really bad time to do this, and we don’t want to leave Angeltown, but we have our reasons. We immediately got calls for two showings, one Saturday and one Sunday. 

Saturday night, my Patient Husband heard a strange plink-plink-plink. He opened the light in the laundry room and at first failed to notice the puddle beneath the hot water heater.

Who wished we’d be living in interesting times? He got me, and I finished what I was doing before going downstairs because I just didn’t “get” what he was saying. Until I realized that unless we could get the hot water supply turned off, we were going to have a flood. At this point, we were looking at two gallons in puddles. There was a lot more in the tank, and of course, it would keep refilling.

Last year, a plumber went into my laundry room and slapped big stickers on everything. Of course, they had his company’s phone number and logo all over them, but more importantly, he’d labeled the shutoff valve for the hot water tank. The logical thing to do was to shut off the gas to the tank and then shut off the water supply. Which would have been terrific if only the shutoff valve wasn’t corroded stuck.

My Patient Husband, with that rising pitch of voice that sends me right over the edge, said, “We need to call a plumber! Now!”

I went upstairs and called a plumber. (A different one than Mr. Sticker. He was nice and all, but there isn’t much surface area left in the house for stickers. And to think we wasted all that money on vinyl siding.) 

After talking to the sane person who answered the phone (at 9:30pm on a Saturday night!) and knowing a plumber was being paged, I had my sanity back. By this time, my Patient Husband had unstuck the shutoff valve, and the water was off. And I thought, “Jane, you idiot–”  

I went outside. Got the garden hose. Went downstairs again, this time unaffected by the cloud of panic surrounding my hot water heater. And I attached the hose to the “drain me out here” valve.

We ran the hose out the garage onto the driveway. Once I figured out about the overflow valve and how you can open it to let air into the top, the water gushed out. (As an added benefit, I made sure the hot water washed over the scrape marks left in our driveway by the portable storage unit. They’re gone now.)

Situation was under control. I cancelled the on-call plumber and made an appointment for the not-on-call plumber to visit for a lot less money this afternoon. I assume he’s carrying a new hot water heater in the back of his truck.

Then I emailed the real estate agent and asked her to explain to the family scheduled for Sunday that as of Monday, the listing would read, “brand new hot water heater.”

Once we were able to laugh, this was hysterically funny. And we have laughed: when we returned from church, I opened the garage door and said, “Well, a wall of water didn’t flood out the open door, so that has to be good!” and my Patient Husband said, “I was thinking the same thing.”

It worked out as well as it could have. I strongly recommend that if you ever have to have your hot water heater die on you, that you wander into the room for no apparent reason after only a couple of gallons have spilled. That nothing gets on the carpets. That you have a plumber who spontaneously stickered your shutoff valve a year earlier. And that your newborn stays asleep through the entire process.

I’m not sure if the household guardian angels were the ones who urged my Patient Husband to go downstairs (he had no reason to — he honestly couldn’t remember afterward why he had) but if they did, then I thank them, my Patient Husband thanks them, and my carpet thanks them.

(The showing went pretty well on Sunday. The Saturday people were not interested because the kitchen wasn’t “modern enough” but the Sunday people are taking a couple of days to think it over. And that’s after only two days on the market.)


  1. Jenni

    Phew! Thankfully, that turned out well. Next time we call a plumber (which should be in 3 months should history keep repeating…) I’m going to ask for some stickers, as it appears to be the new trend in decorating.

    So if your house sells that fast, do you already have a new place picked out? I’m sure Angeltown won’t be the same without you. (Oh, and now’s your chance to find a place within walking distance of church, right?)

  2. philangelus

    I recommend the stickers with “In case of puddle beneath hot water heater, follow the following four easy steps.”

    We don’t have a new house picked out, just a city/town that’s within 20 minutes of my Patient Husband’s job. And unfortunately, the way the town is laid out, I don’t think we’ll be within walking distance of that church. We can’t afford to be picky.

    (After we’re empty nesters and I’m pulling down five million a year writing books, then I’ll be picky. I’ll even insist the house have a window seat!)

  3. karen ^.,.^

    well, i’m very glad to hear an ark was not needed for you over the weekend! that would have put a damper on things 😉 i hope your house will sell quickly so you’ll be able to unpack and settle into a new place before it gets really hot.

  4. philangelus

    Yes, a “damper” indeed.

    I need to take a picture of the new hot water heater. It looks like a cyborg invaded my house and is squatting in my laundry room.

  5. blueraindrop

    by the first paragraph, i was expecting some pool filling with less than freezing water by using water from in the house…. and was anxious to hear how you got talked into that one. lol

  6. Patient Husband's former officemate

    Speaking from experience, I would also recommend you not snap off the gas shutoff valve to your failed hot water heater, unless you want to meet your new neighbors and the fire department all at the same time.

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