The Curse Strikes Again

The family curse of plumbing issues has struck again.

Our new house has a small water heater under the sink to supply the sink only. This is a neat feature, I guess, though not especially necessary as we don’t need such huge amounts of hot water that the main tank wouldn’t cover it. This thing appears to have been the issue. 

Erin shouted up at me a while ago that “something’s going on in the basement!” And something was. There was a steady stream of water from the ceiling down there, right underneath the sink, of course. It was indeed said heater. I turned off the water immediately so we could clean it up, followed by the troubleshooting.

First thing I noticed was that the input to the heater was actually the hot water line. So I tested the cold water, which could be turned on with no leak. Second thing I noticed was that the heater didn’t even supply the dishwashing machine, as I originally assumed it had. This made the heater’s purposes even more confusing: the only thing it served was the sink. And surely nobody would need so damn much hot water there, even doing manual dishes, that a small extra heater was needed? (edit- I do now recall that the previous family had three-four kids, in their early teens, and that sort of explains a higher demand for hot water, but surely a second main heater would be the answer?)

But with a quick test of the water on again, the spray came from a spot near what I suspect was a relief output in the lower housing. Something in there must have cracked. Luckily, it was a trivial matter to bypass the heater. The sink now feeds directly from the main line… which works perfectly, and with no leaks, and with only slightly less immediate access to the hot water. With that settled, I unplugged the heater (electric, with its own plug, right there underneath the cabinet… damn good thing the water wasn’t spraying into it), and problem mostly solved. 

I’ll have to wait for the heater to cool down before deciding how to move it or even consider fixing/replacing it (current thought, no). We also have to wait for the water underneath the cabinet to evaporate, as it’s totally inaccessible for us to dry out without severely damaging the kitchen. And of course we have to make sure puddles don’t stick around in the basement.

Ugh. If it’s not one thing it’s another. At least it was an interesting spot for the evening.