The CFS way to win household battles: WATER HEATER, PART 4.

In which, for your amusement and/or edification, I take you through the steps one person with CFS (PWC) takes to repair a misbehaving appliance.


Ten minutes later:

I go now to finish the process, secure and smug in the knowledge that I think I know what I’m doing (none of this is rocket science: in fact, though the hose took off like one, the water heater didn’t, even though it is approximately the right shape).

Two further notes before I quit for now: CFS brain must go take Third Nap (it has been two hours since I started, and three since Second Nap).

1) The ten minute wait has nothing to do with gas dissipating – it is the required time for the FLOOR to dry, because you are going to be sitting on it, with your head on the ground, looking through a tiny window in the bottom of the water heater for a spark to ignite the pilot.

2) I have been defeated for now by the igniting system: followed ALL instructions (used to do the same thing to light the furnace every year), and nothing. Nada. No spark. Defeated by a piezoelectric igniter that doesn’t work. For NOW.

Asks peevishly: When did real life become hilarious?

Up from what we CFS folk euphemistically call “preemptive resting.”

I go down to the basement again, and repeat the process of trying to light the pilot for the water heater about 8 times. Can’t see anything. Can’t hear anything. Don’t see spark from igniter.


Take break.

DH comes home.

DH says – you don’t need an igniter, and ‘why would an igniter fail – it’s never been used.’ Except to start the thing.

We have short discussion (I did NOT ask him to help or solve the problem). He says, quite logically, “If it’s the igniter, can’t you light it with a match?”


He goes to bed (very long day). I gather tools: a propane kitchen lighter, some wooden skewers, a tall candle.

I head for the basement, determined to light the thing. This time I bring a flashlight with me. The batteries are dying (that’s another trip upstairs – I’ll go if I need to in a minute); I can look through the 1” square window on the water heater bottom.

Now I can see something in there – but not very well. Nothing identifiable.

It’s off, and not hot any more, so I remove the plastic screening around the bottom which is supposed to prevent bugs from wandering in (remembered comment from installers – why I remembered THIS? Don’t know.) I feel around UNDER the tank to see if there’s somewhere I can get the little skewer, lit, up to where the pilot should be.

The tank has been very carefully constructed to prevent this.

No place to put anything in there.

I look at the little plate bolted on that has the window in it, and decide maybe I can remove that. I head for the toolbox, select the right nut driver – perfect. Remove a screw holding the plate on. Absolutely no give. Not even a wiggle. I contemplate removing the other screw, but the complete lack of wiggleability makes me think this will be a futile exercise. I replace the first screw for now.

Now I’m mad.

I lie on the concrete floor, my eyes approximately level with the window, and go through the motions of putting the dial in pilot position, holding it down, and clicking the igniter frantically. And looking through the window with the dimming flashlight, trying to see ANYTHING going on down there.

Moving my head around a bit on the floor allows the ceiling lights to illuminate different bits in that space BEHIND the little window UNDER the tank.


I suddenly notice, way back, there is a tiny blue flame.


(To be concluded)


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