Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plumbing Follies Part ... Eight?

Yeah, so, last night, the kitchen sink clogged.  Poured half a bottle of Drano in there and then I had a sink full of Drano-scented water.  Called a plumber (new guy, found him on Angie's List) and made an appointment for first thing this morning.  (Then I thought:  curious cat plus poison water equals bad idea, so I balanced some cookie sheets over the sink -- figured that it would keep her out of the Drano, and if it didn't, the clatter would wake me up.)

Which was why I found myself, at around 8:15 this morning, standing outside while new plumber snaked the line.  (And it took about 50 feet of snake before he finally found the hair clog.  I blamed it on the cat, but I'm not sure he believed me.)

And while we were outside, the plumber did what every workman does ... looked at the previous guy's work and said it was wrong.  Specifically: the circulation pump on my tankless water heater.  Said it was the wrong type of pump.  I didn't really want to have this conversation -- I'd gone through quite a hassle when the contractor installed the circulation pump last year -- so I told the plumber that once he finished snaking the line I had some other work for him to bid.  New plumber, who apparently speaks Subtext, wisely changed the subject.  

He bids the other work, and his price is reasonable.  I tell him we'll do it, then go off to work.

I can't let go the bit he said about the circulation pump.  He said that you don't use a continuous circulation pump on a tankless water heater -- you should use an "on demand" circulation pump on a tankless heater.

I google this.

My research discloses that he's right.  While a continuous circulation pump is possible on a tankless water heater, it:  (a) drops the warranty on the water heater from 10 years to 3 years (as you're using the water heater full-time rather than intermittently); (b) eliminates a lot of the advantage of having a tankless water heater, as it pretty much turns your pipes into "a hot water tank"; and (c) is generally acknowledged to be all kinds of stupid.

Am absolutely hopping mad that my contractor installed a continuous circulation pump, rather than installing (or even suggesting) and on-demand pump, or even one on a timer.  No, I've got my (gas) water heater keeping the water in my pipes at a toasty 140 degrees at all times, with a circulation pump happily keeping it circulating (via electric power) at all times.

New plumber is now bidding an on-demand circulation pump (which, obviously, would have been oh-so-much easier to install during the bathroom remodel)  I'm working on the nasty letter to the contractor demanding he pay for it.

Am also wondering exactly how much power that circulation pump is using, as my electric bills have been extraordinarily high. 


Janiece said...

Boy, do I feel your pain. As you know, this has been the Summer of Service from Hell for me. Things have gotten better recently, though, so there's hope!

Wil said...

"Am also wondering exactly how much power that circulation pump is using, as my electric bills have been extraordinarily high."

Well, between the motor running continuously, your generally nightowl lifestyle, an absurdly hot June, incredibly high fuel surcharge allowance... I can see how the old electric bill would appear the bargain. Just wait until the North Pole ice cap melts a little more this summer...

Lori said...

My tub drain has been slow-to-drain/not-draining-at-all for four days now. I've tried the usual things, and guess we're going to have to snake it next. I hate plumbing problems!