It's funny how something as simple as running hot water can make one incredibly happy--if one has lived without it for the better part of a week.
The saga began about three weeks ago when my oldest son complained about his early morning shower running cold five minutes after getting in. My husband investigated it and discovered the lower heating element on the water heater had shorted out.
Dutifully he trotted down to the hardware store and bought a new one. Upon returning he determined the lower element was corroded. If you're in the know on this then you know this is bad. Expensively so.
Let me depart from the present day to say this: Three years ago, shortly after the resident plumber (my husband) installed the heater, I noticed a wet spot around it while I was doing laundry. I mentioned it to him. His response was (say it with me ladies) "I'll get to it later."
"Later" translated to something like a month or more of me pointing it out from time to time (aka nagging) before he finally slowed down and looked. A connection at the top was cross threaded and it was causing it to leak down the side of the tank. Water dripped outside of the tank and seeped under the cover of the lower element water and caused lime deposits to form around it. For those of you who don't know--this left for any length of time is bad and generally means replacing the heater as the elements are impossible to get off. Our heater is only three years old so you can imagine the err . . . heated . . . exchanges that have taken place since he announced that he had a problem with it.
But, God love him, he tried to remove it anyway, using an element wrench, socket wrenches, a hammer and a crow bar, etc. For two weeks he banged around on it, rattled, torqued, twisted, hauled, begged, muttered hail mary's (or hell, mary's, not sure which) to no avail.
The family's been making due with warm baths, quick showers, and heating water for dishes until a few day ago when the thermostat failed and then the remaining heating element died shortly afterwards of either loneliness or exhaustion.
Yesterday he pronounced the entire project dead in the water (which the rest of us had already kind of noticed). And after a debate (cough) we ordered a new heater which is sitting in its box in the driveway as I type. I'll be dragging him out of bed in a few minutes so he and the two teenagers can install it.
His famous last words, which he cries at the beginning of every all day (all night) plumbing job, "It shouldn't take more than an hour" weren't uttered this time. I don't know if that's good or bad . . .