“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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