Category: Homesteading

An Alarming Debut

By , December 3, 2018

Yesterday, we got showers!

On Sunday, a friend came over and helped us complete the final stage of installing our new hot water heater, “The Iron Giant” (see “The Iron Giant” Comes!). We had to drill out some seized bolts on the wood stove’s flue spigot so that we could reconfigure our chimney, raising the Tee to the ceiling to allow a 90° connection for the water heater flue (yes, fellow homesteaders, we know that this is one of the worst chimney connections possible. People have been warning against it, yet using it for years).

Once we had that taken care of, and with the connections well tightened and proven leak-free (see “Paging Doctor Frankenstein . . .”), we went to bed, eagerly anticipating clean bodies and dishes come morning.

And yet, it wasn’t going to be that easy . . . .

wood-fired hot water heater

The new water heater in place, ready for the next surprise. Note aluminum heat shield on ceiling (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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“Paging Doctor Frankenstein . . .”

By , November 29, 2018

Tuesday, I plumbed the new hot water heater, which I dubbed “The Iron Giant” (see “The Iron Giant” Comes!). Even though it’s a lot less complicated than the amazing stuff we needed to do to accommodate the differently-arranged Agua Heaters, I came away feeling like I needed the help of Victor Frankenstein!

wood-fired hot water heating plumbing

“The Iron Giant’s” plumbing, cold water intake, channeled down to external inlet (blue) pressure valve drain (black) and hot water outflow (red) (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

As with most homestead and homespun projects, I ran into the dilemma between paying extra to make things simple and nice-looking, or go inexpensive, use what I already own, and maybe make something ugly and complicated, but functional. Surely, Mary Shelley’s Doctor Frankenstein went through this same process!

In the end, I think I made pretty good compromises. I managed to save us some money by using materials we already owned, and give myself some badly needed safety features in the process.

For instance, after I spent all day fitting it all together, I filled it with water, then Aly and I checked for drips. We found leaks in 5 different fittings. Some, I think I dry fitted, then forgot and left, but most of them I couldn’t fix by simply wrench tighter until the dripping stopped. We drained it, I disconnected the pipes in a few key places, and wrenched everything as tightly as I could before reassembling.

Wood-fired hot water heater plumbing

View from the other side, showing mixing valve (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

I have yet to test those newly-tightened joins. We’ve run into a serious delay in the next part of the process: reconfiguring our wood stove chimney to accommodate the new, taller heater’s chimney. I’ll wait till that’s further along before I try filling the tank again, simply because our house will be colder with an uninsulated metal bottle full of ice cold water.

At least I doubt I’ll need to page Doctor Frankenstein for the next phase. I’ll keep you posted.

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