Speaking of Disasters


This is Morgan, glancing with forlorn despair in the direction of our latest plumbing nightmare. This old house always has one more prehistoric plumbing disaster to throw my way. Some of you may remember when I discovered that the water heater is walled in. Ever since that discovery, I’ve been dreading the day the water heater might go bad. I could drain the water heater and circumvent it to a new water heater in the cellar, but that would mean excavating new lines, which is a fairly expensive prospect. When the water heater decided to go bad on Sunday of Thanksgiving week (yes, all plumbing disasters here occur on Sundays, and throwing in a holiday week is a bonus), something had to be done fast with four people in the house.

Luckily, one of those four people was my ex-husband, who went to Lowe’s twice, tore out the wall to make the opening larger, pulled out the old water heater, installed the new water heater, and got us back in hot water by the end of the day. My neighbor Jim came over and helped, too. And Weston even helped.
And now I have a hole. Which I am not covering back up with sheetrock because I’m not going to wall in this water heater. I’ll figure out what to do about it after the holiday, but most likely I will be having a small utility door installed so that future work on the water heater will not involve a sledgehammer.


You can order Chickens in the Road: An Adventure in Ordinary Splendor now!

Amazon Button BarnesandNoble Button iBooks Button IndieBound Button


  1. Zaduzbina says:

    A door. That’s what we did.

  2. rurification says:

    Ack. The timing. We’ve had a few things like that happen and they live on in legend. The girls still talk about the Christmas eve the well pump died.

  3. mschrief says:

    I would put a nice frame on it and put up a nice door, one of those etched ones that say pantry or something like that. YOu could store mops and brooms and junk in the little room with the water heater.

  4. holstein woman says:

    PRAISE GOD for men home. What a blessing that they could do the work and had nothing else to do but hunt and eat. I’d do the door idea and use the inside of the door for storage. There are lots of ideas of storage things to do. HAPPY THANKSGIVING

  5. nursemary says:

    We had a FisherPaykel double drawer dishwasher that stopped working before EVERY holiday! It was under warranty and there was only one authorized repair company and they took forever to get out and fix it. We started calling our dishwasher the FisherPaykel Holiday Edition!

    Last Christmas my new JennAir oven went out with a $140.00 beef tenderloin inside!

    Things like this are the reason I named my blog Everyday Miracles and Mayhem! Glad you got it fixed in time for showers with all those men in the house! 😆

    Happy holidays to all!

  6. hawkswench says:

    If your men are woodworking handy, you could also do a rolling bookcase. A new bottom with wheels attached to the bookcase in your pic would work. That way you have an easy access but lose no storage.

  7. GA_in_GA says:

    So, there was a reason to invite your Ex to join you for the week. Little did he know . . .


    Glad you have a new water heater installed and working. We have been known to lose our hot water heater 1) Before heading out to inlays for 2 weeks, 2) Christmas Eve, and 3) . . . it will happen, just waiting.

    My favorite holiday disaster is an electrical power outage. As long as I’ve had a shower and coffee before the storm rolls through, I can handle anything. 😉

  8. GA_in_GA says:

    Make that inlaws . . .

  9. jodiezoeller says:

    My disaster story was a clogged/broken kitchen sink disposal on the weekend of Thanksgiving several years ago. When we had a house full of company! I’m thankful that it’s been working since then. I’m worried that my dishwasher >12 years old will be going out next. So far it’s holding on to life though.

  10. margiesbooboo says:

    Maybe hinges on the shelves? I’ve got one of those hidden corners next to my sink that does magic when it pulls out the shelves. Maybe you can figure out something like that? Hate to loose shelves!

  11. desertrat says:

    now that you’ve got a new one set a time each year (maybe summer for you as you live in a COLD area) to drain it completely, it will help flush grit and stuff out, especially as you’re on a well to help keep it running as it should.

    was just lucky you had some handy helpers around to get you up and running again. :jackolantern:

  12. mamajoseph says:

    A hinged shelf-door! Your readers have the best ideas.

  13. whaledancer says:

    Yes, plumbing disasters do tend to happen on Sundays and holidays. Our specialty was sewer line blockages. We had our sewer back up on either Thanksgiving or Christmas 5 years in a row (just in time for a house full of guests). Our rooter man started joking about its being a tradition to spend his holidays with us.

    I’m glad you were able to get yours fixed quickly, without too much headache. I like hawkwench’s idea of a movable bookcase. Or maybe you could put some original art on the door. Or a shadow-box for some of your crafts or heirlooms.

  14. Journey11 says:

    Yeah, what a crazy design flaw. With the hard water we have around here, our tank needs drained and flushed a couple times a year. If you don’t, they generally won’t live much past 5 years. You must have better water quality than we do if they thought they could get away with that. Glad you had help to get it fixed quickly. Now that you’ve gotten that disaster out of the way, hopefully the rest of your Thanksgiving will go smoothly and according to plan!

  15. boulderneigh says:

    Looks like a good spot for a bookcase!

  16. nursemary says:

    One more disaster story.

    I leased a very large home once when I was single. There was no hot water. The gas company told me they had to come out and light the pilot light. They sent a guy out but we could not find the water heater! We looked everywhere in that big house. Finally, they sent another guy out and he found it…in the crawlspace in the ceiling rafters! A huge water heater! Must have been installed before the drywall went in. Anyway, the man from the gas company was hefty, let’s say north of 300 pounds. He laughed when he saw the access panel, which was a couple of feet smaller in diameter than he was! I had to wait a couple more days until the skinniest technician was free to come out!

  17. joykenn says:

    Oh, I’ve had several disasters ON THANKSGIVING DAY! There was the day the potato peels clogged first our disposal and then the kitchen sink so my husband had to wash dishes in the bathtub while waiting for the plumber while I drove half way across the state to return his aunt home.
    OR, the Thanksgiving my husband brought home such a large bird it wouldn’t quite fit well in our wall oven so my son “helpfully” used the door lock for oven cleaning and we spent the whole day trying to get the bird out and then cook it.
    OR,…..we seem to specialize in things like our air conditioner failing on fourth of july, furnace on Christmas. I swear we’re jinxed.

  18. Joell says:

    Friend has the exact same problem, —closed the openeing with a set of shutter doors, looks nice, esay access, and great venilation, She purchased the doors with a couple of scratches, which she touched up—from the back room of one of the home stores for $5 :happyflower: .

  19. RosieJo says:

    God Bless ex-husbands, especially handy ones.

  20. jamitysmom says:

    I like the idea of a door too – the shutters sound great though. I have to say, we haven’t had that many disasters over the years but I’m crossing my fingers because my water heater is, get this, thirty two years old! I try to tell my husband, change it before it HAS to be changed but, well, you know…

  21. Glenda says:

    It must be some unwritten law that these things occur when you have company, it is Sunday or a holiday. We have had our share.

    What idiocy that they enclosed a water heater! That tops the book of crazy things. I am so glad the ex and Weston were there.

    Eventually all these little (and not so little) things will be fixed or replaced and life will run smoothly (ha!). We all know better than that.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  22. ibpallets (Sharon B.) says:

    The door is a great idea- Glad your ex was there to get you up and running again!

  23. UlrikeDG says:

    You should install a bookcase/secret door. There is no other correct answer to this question.

  24. easygoinglady says:

    a bookcase hinged like a door. easy access, hidden and still have shelves. put wheels on the bottom to help it swing out easily. or the bookcase rolls to the side like a sliding door.

  25. yvonnem says:

    I had a very bad feeling when I originally read this post, the dread of when our water heater would die. Well…it did, today. Mine is in the master bedroom closet, behind a wall (which luckily has a removable panel). Now to call a plumber….Merry Christmas to the plumber!

Add Your Thoughts