Plumbing the Depths of My Faith

water heaterA couple of weeks ago we noticed water leaking out the bottom of our water heater. NOT good. Trips to various plumbing and home improvement stores ensued to price out a new water heater. Yikes, these things aren’t cheap! However, we got at least twenty-one years of service out of the old unit. So, I can’t complain. Or, at least, I shouldn’t complain.

Price points for various units and installation all seem about the same. Hmmm – really? There must be some collusion going on. Still, we purchased a new unit for $430. Installation is $300. However, it’s clear that installation could cost “a little” more in order, if required, to bring something up “to code”. The installation includes delivery and the haul-away of the old unit. I remind myself to get that in writing. In addition, the city requires a $60 permit. Total price is $790. Note to self – adjust budget to add $10/mo to house maintenance for replacement of this water heater in ten years.

The store contracts out plumbers to do the installation. We set a date for the installation. Unfortunately, I have to be home all day as it’s not possible to set up a two-hour window as to when the guys will show up. Whatever.

Today’s the day. Sometime. Whenever. At some point. Maybe in the morning? That would be most convenient for me.

1:37pm – The truck just pulled into the driveway.

1:40pm – Quick introductions at the front door and we head downstairs to see where the water heater will be installed.

1:41pm – “No thanks, I’ve had enough coffee for the day.” Dang! My first attempt at bribery has failed.

1:42pm – Uh oh! Apparently the existing gas-isolation valve isn’t “code” Already it’s going to cost me an additional $90 to change out the gas isolation valve. Obviously, the PPMP (Plumber’s Profit Maximization Process) is in full working order.

1:43pm – I argue that I could buy the same valve for $15 at Home Depot to no avail. These guys have heard similar complaints before. “Mr. Martin, we don’t set the prices. We just do the installation. Would you like to call our manager?” I wimp out and agree to pay for the valve.

1:44pm – Oh dear, this is going to be interesting. The old unit was about 50” tall. The new unit is closer to 60” tall. It appears the wrong unit has been shipped. But that’s okay. There’s sufficient room and these guys can make it fit. However, I make it clear that there’s not going to be any additional installation costs.

1:45pm – “Ah, excuse me, please. I have to call my boss and check something.”

1:47pm – “The boss says we delivered the unit you purchased.”

1:48pm – I show my receipt indicating the unit I bought.

1:49pm – “Okay, no problem. We’ll deal with the warehouse people later. We can make the taller unit fit. And, we can install it for no additional cost.” I claim a small victory.

1:51pm – Uh oh. There appears to be so much sediment in the tank that it isn’t draining. Never fear, I’m told, “We have ways of dealing with this.”

2:00pm – “Ah, Mr. Martin in looking at my work-order, you haven’t paid for the haul-away of the old unit. You weren’t wanting to keep it, were you?” I’m adamant that the installation fee included haul-away. I again produce my receipt. A second phone call is made to the boss.

2:04pm – “The boss says he’ll work it out with the store.” I claim a second small victory.

2:17pm – Sawing. Torching. Banging.

2:19pm – Uh oh, just heard swearing.

2:20pm – Much louder banging now.

2:28pm – Ooh, just heard a nasty scraping sound.

2:32pm – “Hey! You sure you turned the water off? It’s still coming out!”

2:33pm – “Okay, I’ll crank harder on the main water valve.”

2:52pm – Ouch, just heard a big thump.

2:54 pm – Went downstairs. The guys had laid the old unit on its side. They were lifting the bottom end of the unit up a couple of inches and then letting it drop to the floor hoping to break up some of the sediment still inside. According to Adam, “This sucker is really heavy!” At least, it sounded like ‘sucker’ to me.

2:55pm – I asked if it might be desirable to drag the unit out the lower level back door and take it around the side of the house.

2:56pm – Still no response.

2:57pm – Three of us standing around looking at the old unit. I decide I don’t need to be here.

2:58pm – Just heard something about breaking balls. Not sure what that means.

3:00pm – They’re dragging the old unit up the flight of stairs – one grunt at a time.

3:10pm – Only had to pay for the valve. I guess they’ll figure out who’s going to “eat” the haul-away fee and deal with the wrong unit being delivered back at the office. Not me! Final instructions on getting some initial dirty water, air in the lines and being religious about draining out 2-3 gallons of water twice a year to prevent sediment build up. I promised I would.

3:14pm – They’re gone – or, as any of the Robertson clan from Duck Dynasty would say, “They gone.”

All in all, everything worked out okay. The guys were pleasant enough, efficient and did a good job on the installation. I don’t think we realized how, over the course of time, our access to hot water had been diminished. Now, there’s LOTS of hot water. We can wash clothes, run the dishwasher and take a shower simultaneously without running out of hot water. And, I didn’t have to deal with the backside of a toilet. I may be a little poorer for not having done the installation myself. But, sometimes the hassle just isn’t worth it.

I suppose in a similar way, perhaps one reason why I haven’t written for so long about my continuing struggles with reformed doctrine – and in particular the concept of election – the hassle just hasn’t been worth it. My “source of hot water” (as it relates to matters of faith) has certainly diminished. Have I really noticed? And friends, too, have tired of my faith challenges. It’s just been easier not to deal with it.

I only seem to pick it up the Bible in order to frame or otherwise buttress an argument – not as an act of worship or fellowship with God. I feel myself going through motions and I lack the desire to engage. Years ago, I thought it possible to determine whether Calvinist or Arminian doctrine was correct. How naïve I was (and am). If anything, my attempts to differentiate the arguments made by the likes of James White and Dave Hunt or John Piper and Greg Boyd, have only brought about dissolution with the Christian life. More than anything else, I’ve morphed into a deistic perspective as to the nature of God and his interaction with his creation. God is there. But, what difference does it really make? Live by the Golden Rule and use Proverbs as a guide for decision making.

It seems awkward to put those thoughts on paper. But I guess I just did.