Monday, May 20, 2013

Second Best Shower of My Life

A little over a week ago, I got a little more stimulation from my morning shower than I had planned... no hot water!

Bruce!  There's NO HOT WATER! So I rushed through my shower as Bruce sprung to the boat's electrical panel, he searched frantically for the cause... Nothing!  It should be working!

Fast forward to my arrival home from work.  Bruce is washing dishes with water heated on the stove.  He tells me "there's been a miracle".  I'm skeptical...

Suddenly the water heater is working again?  I head for the aft cabin to change.  Walking past the electrical panel I smell "that burning smell".  Bruce rushes over and flips off the switch to the power.  We sniff around and finally locate the source of the smell.

Pretty sure this is it!  I've never seen one of these gadgets.  The best we can figure is that there was once a problem and the previous owner had to make repairs with whatever was available.  This little gadget has obviously decided to give it up.  Thoughts of what might have happened are pushed out of our minds as we begin the process of figuring out what could have caused this.

Bruce spent the better part of the past week (while I had cold showers) thinking about the best plan of attack.  Sources say that a poor connection could cause this type of burnout.  Other sources say that the connection could have been stressed by a dying heating element.

We ordered a new element and before it even arrived, we made the decision to replace the entire heater.  The Kuuma 6 gallon water heater we have has been a good one, but upon closer inspection, we discovered that it is leaking.  (could this be the cause of our water pump going off periodically?)

Bruce picked up a new one at West Marine.  While it sat in the car for two or three days... I listened to Bruce's ever growing plan for installation of the new heater.  It involved raising the platform that holds our Xantrex inverter and ..... WHAT!???  Why the *&%$ would we do THAT?!!

I had to take matters into my own hands and get this party started...  We re-evaluated the issues at hand and decided... if it ain't broke, don't move the thing!  The problem was raising the Xantrex which rests upon the heater.  We devised a way to lift the board using a strap (seen at the top right corner of this next pic).

Securing the engine coolant return hose McGyver style
Problem solved... we got to work disconnecting the hoses and wiring from the old heater...

I am such a back-seat-driver, it's usually better if Bruce just let's me do it.  So I climbed in and with the instruction booklet on my lap, I began unhooking hoses.

All hoses disconnected, ready for removal
Everything had to be labeled according to it's purpose so that I could hook it all up to the new heater with no extra parts.

I had a bit of panic when I disconnected the first big black hose and found antifreeze running out.  I stuck my finger in the hole and stared at Bruce...  What do we have that can plug these hoses so that the antifreeze doesn't all run out into the bilge???

I think for a second... bring me some saran wrap and a paper towel, quick! I wadded the paper towel into a plug shape, then wrapped it in the saran wrap and voila!  I've got my plug.  I stuffed into the hose and taped it securely around the end.  It wasn't the BEST fix but it did the trick until we could remove the heater and get the new one in place.

Once everything was disconnected, Bruce came in from the other side and I helped guide the box out through the wiring, no sweat!  It came out beautifully!

We had a discussion about changing how the hoses were configured to make it more easy to remove the heater should we ever need the space for generator repairs... We decided that we would cross that bridge when we come to it and just resumed with putting the new box in exactly as the old one came out.

Bruce had the honor of unwrapping our new heater.  I love shiny things!  We breathed a sigh of relief as we inspected the new unit and found it as closely identical to the old one as we could expect.  One of my fears was that there would be changes that would make plug-and-play impossible.  We lucked out today and it was the same size with all the fixtures in the same spots.  We were SET!

We slid the heater into it's new home and I hooked up all the hoses.  They went on much more easily that I anticipated.  Bruce hooked up the wiring and we opened the water valves.

Pssssssss  OH NO!  There was one tiny spray of water coming out of one of the hoses.  I KNEW that one was not tight enough!  Well, it was late and the place was a mess... Tomorrow is Monday and I have to go to work!

So... we put off tightening that one hose until morning.  Bruce dealt with the fallout while I went to bed... only mildly disappointed.

Monday morning, I talked Bruce into  tightening that hose while I ironed my work clothes.  (yes I iron my work clothes... for four more weeks)

Lo and behold... it held tight and after a short wait... I disrobed and climbed into the tub.  Ahhh the happy noises coming from the aft head could be heard all down the dock!  It was the SECOND BEST shower of my life!


  1. Hey Tammy and Bruce, I bought an assortment of rubber stoppers to jam into hoses so water and etc does not spill out. They work great. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Andy H.

  2. I'm sure that there is some kind of proper instrument for this purpose... however, finding it in a pinch would more often prove improbable when one is sitting there with a finger in a hose... We will take your advice under advisement for future projects! You SAW that mess we made didn't you???