This project was to replace the hot water heater with a tankless heater and to re-do one of the last areas in this house--all closets--that haven't had anything done to them since we moved in. Ever. The biggest deal was an electrical upgrade.
The closets are all tiny--there are five of them, counting this hot water heater closet. I've had lights installed in the three "largest" ones--and that adjective is truly laughable. This house was built in the 1940s, and tiny closets were the norm. Good thing for us that I had that 12' x 24' storage building built in the backyard, huh?
Anyway. This closet is by far the worst. The others just need to be painted, thank goodness. I can do that myself--I've done one of them already and am psyching myself up to do another one soon. I would get Robert to do it, but he hates to paint and says, sure, he'll do it, but he won't do it for cheap. He hopes I'll change my mind and do it myself. I don't want to irritate him because I have more big projects on my list, so I'll suck it up and paint the &^%$# closet. But not the HWH closet. Bleah. I avoid this closet the way I avoided looking under my bed when I was a kid. I was not allowed to store stuff under my bed--my mother thought that was Beyond Tacky--and so I never looked under there. I was sure that, because no one was checking (although I'm sure my mother vacuumed under my bed, I never saw her do it, so for all I knew it was never explored), it was inhabited by monsters. Big ones, with fangs and slimy skin and long fingers with bloody claws, just waiting for me to lean over the edge of the bed at night and lift up the dust ruffle and peer under and WHAM! They'd grab me and pull me under with them, where they'd devour me so quickly all my parents, in the living watching TV, would hear would be the sounds of wet, slobbery crunching.
That's how I felt about this closet: a no-man's-land full of monsters. Also probably mice (which I refer to as "rats," because, really: vermin are vermin, right?). I never saw any *signs* of them, but there were bound to be some, just waiting to leap down on me from that hole in the ceiling, with fangs and red eyes and huge extended families of rabid (never mind the unlikelihood of that), plague-and-hanta-virus-infected rodents.
The hot water heater sat up on a shelf:
We assume they did this because that floor has the only access to the crawl space, but holy moly: what a stupid place for a HWH. Replacing it was a chore, indeed, and with the hard, sediment-filled water in West Texas, it has to be done rather often. The EGE insists that he and I did it once, on our own--he got up in the attic and rigged a pulley to lift it while I guided it into place. I have no recollection of this, although I do vaguely remember us putting a full-(house-)sized evaporative cooler up on the roof using that sort of system.
We were much, much younger then.
Also more frugal about paying people to do stuff we figured we could do just as well. One of my goals in the last decade or so is to make sure we don't ever have to climb on the roof or tote that barge and lift that bale: getting things in order so they last for the rest of our lives. You know: the metal roof, good windows, stuff like that. We've paid our dues doing everything from digging out sewer lines to replacing plumbing to sanding hardwood floors to cutting down trees. You get to a point in your life where your knees and fingers say, "Enough." A day spent under the kitchen sink with a wrench means three more days of not being able to do the things you want to do. Last time we took down most of a huge tree, I couldn't stitch for days.
So we get someone else to replace the HRH, and the last time we had to have that done, the plumbers said, "That's it. That's the last time we're doing this." They said that we'd have to figure out something else next time. Because what you had to do to get this baby out of there was drain it, lift it straight up, pull out the shelf it sat on, and then lower it to the floor and take it out. In a tiny closet. It required two men to lift and one to remove the shelf, and there's no way three people can get into that space. Yesterday, after they finally got it drained, Robert got in the attic and lifted, with one guy below pushing it up, and another (really skinny) guy squeezed in and pulled out the shelf, which is pretty substantial on its own.
So it looked like this. I've avoided even thinking about it for many, many years. The water stains were there when we moved in. I know: disgusting.
I HATED this hole in the ceiling. See above, "monsters."
That's the gas line, that pipe below. I can't believe I'm showing y'all this ickiness. As you can imagine, I tried never, ever to open this door. Ever.
So here's what's happening:
--draining and removing old HWH (because it was clogged with calcified sediment from Midland water, this took hours, requiring using a hose and an air gun to blast the clogs away from the drain)
--an electrical upgrade, which meant two crews of electricians here for 7 hours, removing one electrical box and pole and installing another and running wire up the side of the house under the siding, into the attic, and down into the new HWH. This required the electrical company to come out and disconnect the service and then reconnect it after the city inspector came out and approved the work.
--trimming the trees after the electrical company guy refused to connect the wire to the new pole because it was enough taller that it ran through the limbs of two trees.
--installing the new tankless hot water heater, which is where we are today:
--essentially re-doing the inside of the closet.
Over the next several days, Robert will repair the walls and ceiling, tape and bed the sheetrock, prep, and paint. They'll install a ceiling light and wall switch, and then Robert is installing shelves so we can utilize as much of this space as possible.
So that's what's going on here. I didn't have water or electricity yesterday and was pretty grouchy about it: I couldn't do anything and spent the day freezing. It was nearly 80 on Monday and then dropped 25 degrees, so it was about 50 and windy and horrid. I couldn't leave and go work somewhere else because I had to answer questions and wrangle the cats, who were cold and miserable and also grouchy. Water and dirt and strange men everywhere. Even--gack!--using my bathroom. Shudder.
From here on out, though, it will be just Robert, and maybe his assistant, and all will be cool. Except for the part where he keeps nagging me about baking him some brownies. I don't think I've ever cooked brownies in my entire life, and I've told him that. But all day yesterday, whenever he passed through the kitchen, he would open the oven door, peer in hopefully, and then look over at me and sigh pitifully. I finally told him I had made some--fabulous ones, with pecans and frosting!--but that someone broke in and stole them while he was at lunch. What I temporarily forgot is that he's a retired police detective, and so when he started interrogating me about the theft, I was poorly prepared. He shook his head and said, "Interview 101: don't say, 'Um.'"
[Note to self: practice lying more effectively.]