There’s an old saying: A woman is like a tea bag; you don’t know how strong she is until you put her in hot water! Although this truism is unquestionably accurate, it would be difficult to put it to the test without a hot water heater.
In industrialized nations, hot water heaters are just simply “there.” We don’t even notice that they’re working properly until, all of a sudden, they aren’t. When that’s the case, we start panicking about things like showers, washing dishes and doing laundry. We think of all the things that are part of our everyday living, realizing that until the hot water heater is working, languishing in a warm bubble bath is a thing of the past.
What we take for granted – that hot water will spew forth on command when we turn on the faucet – other civilizations view as a luxury. In some parts of the world, even in some parts of remote, rural America, hot water heaters are non-existent. For example, the Aboriginal people of Australia and North America still haul water from streams and rivers in buckets, heating the water over an open fire. Why, we wonder, do they continue this practice when they know that all they have to do is flick a switch on a hot water heater, and it’s time to wash clothes? Respect for the traditions of their people, plain and simple. Sometimes what’s “easy” isn’t always “best.”
In most of the world, there’s a hot water heater in every basement or closet. Its capacity and rapidity of heating depends upon the number of family members who find hot water essential at various times of the day. With a capacity of 50-60 gallons, hot water heaters aren’t viewed as a luxury, but as a “given.” They replaced the burden of hauling and heating water from the nearby stream. But they also replaced the pleasant social interactions that once accompanied water-bearing, plus the self-esteem building that comes from viewing a job well-done.
How Dependable Are Hot Water Heaters?
If you live in a house most of your adult life – raising a family and doing all the activities that we cherish as a people, your hot water heater should last up to fifteen years, perhaps even more. These appliances are built for endurance and heavy use; another luxury. But of course, something’s bound to go wrong sooner or later, and your heater will need either repair or maintenance. Whether your hot water heater is power by natural gas or electricity, or even by solar power, there are some definite warning signs that tell you it’s time to call a repairman: (1) When you stop getting hot water from a faucet, (2) When you smell gas in the air near the heater, (3) When the appliance is sparking electricity or (4) When you notice a puddle of water near the hot water heater. Most of the time a simple repair job takes care of the problem, but there might also be a time for the heater to be replaced. Plan to spend about $300-$700, and you’ll return to luxury.