Saturday, November 8, 2008

Good news disguised as bad news

My lovely wife and kids are spending the weekend in Utah with me rather than at home in Idaho. Our oldest was out of school Thursday and Friday, so we're taking advantage of the chance to spend a few extra days together.

Needless to say, it was a tremendous effort on my wife's part getting everything together for the trip while still making sure to leave the house in perfect condition in case someone wants to look at it while they're gone. The plan was to pick up our daughter from school and be on the road by 4:00 on Wednesday.

At about 4:00 I got a panicked call from my wife. She was behind on a few last minute items and had stopped back at the house before leaving, only to discover that the water heater was leaking onto the garage floor. She found that by holding the valve closed where the water was coming out, she could keep it in check. But that meant she was stuck, like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, helpless to do anything else about the problem.

I told her to feel the pipes coming into the water heater, and whichever one was cold, to turn off the valve to that pipe. That would keep more water from coming in. This seemed to work. She then turned the heater all the way down so that the element didn't burn up or catch on fire or whatever else may have gone wrong (I actually don't even know if it's gas or electric, as I've really never paid it any attention until now). I then called Psycho Rider and asked him if he'd stop by just to make sure that everything was stable and she was safe to leave.

My guess is that we're going to be in the market for a new water heater early next week. If you read the title, you've got to be wondering how this is good news. As it happens, we've packed up a bunch of our stuff in order to de-clutter the house. Mostly clothing and toys, but also the mattress from our guest bed. Right now we're storing all that stuff in the third bay of the garage, right in front of the water heater. So had this little problem gone unnoticed all weekend, who knows what else we would be replacing besides a water heater. Which reminds me, I should replace the hoses going to the washing machine while I'm at it.

Is a home really an asset? I sure don't think of my cars, bikes, skis, TV, or computers as assets. At best they are tools, but more realistically, they are toys. OK, the bikes and skis are medical devices intended to preserve my mental health, but either way, none of those things are really assets. And if you define assets as things that make money, neither are houses.

I priced out water heaters, and they are roughly the same price as a pair of Megawatts or Lhasa Pows. Since I won't be around to install it, you can figure paying someone will be about the cost of new bindings.

Maybe renting a house isn't such a bad idea after all--then I would have been able to just call the landlord and have him buy the new water heater. I'd be free to put my money to work stimulating my favorite sector of the economy rather than helping out Joe the Plumber.

New skis weren't really in the cards for this year anyway, but maybe next year I can justify them with all the money I saved from the stuff in the garage not actually being ruined. We'll see.