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Cold Water, Warm Friends

Yesterday, Thursday, I was informed that our hot water heater hasn’t worked since Monday. Now you may wonder, “How does someone not realize that they haven’t had hot water in three days?” Well, I’ll tell you; although the hot water heater died on Monday, there was enough hot water in the tank for a shower on Tuesday, so I didn’t notice that morning — and I skipped my Wednesday morning shower because I was running late. So it wasn’t until Thursday morning that I was informed that not only had the hot water heater turned itself off, but turning it back on was proving to be impossible.

I don’t know why we have such bad luck with hot water heaters, but we do. We’ve had to replace the hot water heater in both of the homes we’ve lived in. The one in our old house rusted through and burst open, flooding our master bedroom in the process. The one in this house always sucked, and we replaced it with a Whirlpool hot water heater from Lowe’s back in 2008. I don’t know much about hot water heaters, so I bought a brand I had heard of from a place I trusted.

Fast forward two years. The pilot light on the hot water heater has been turning itself off almost daily for going on two months now. It doesn’t happen every single day, so it’s frequent enough to be really annoying, but not enough to replace the hot water heater over. But each morning it’s a coin flip as to whether I’ll have a hot shower that morning or not.

But starting this past Monday, the pilot light simply wouldn’t relight. It stays lit as long as you hold the button down, but the minute you release the button, the flame goes out. Ask anyone who knows anything about hot water heaters and they will immediately diagnose this problem as a bad “thermal coupler”. I searched Google for “Whirlpool Hot Water Heaters” and “replace thermal coupler” and the first page I find is all about the recall due to the class action lawsuit against Whirlpool for their faulty hot water heaters.


After calling a 1-800 number, reporting the problem, registering our hot water heater and calling two different Lowe’s, we managed to track down the replacement kit. In Lowe’s defense, the kit was free — all we needed to do was pick it up and install it. My buddy Jeff was free, and graciously offered to help me install the replacement kit. One hour later, and he was done. His reward was a cup of coffee topped with a healthy dose of Whipped Lightning. And it was good.

As always, thanks to Andy for the advice and Jeff for the help. On the day before Christmas as people are pushing and shoving their way through shopping malls in search of last minute gifts, it’s nice to know I have already received the best gift of all.

Hot water.

Oh yeah, and good friends. :)

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