We needed to replace an electric hot water tank with a bigger one. For our own security we had two different guys measure the space needed (it lives in a crawl space under the Casa with a very limited height we call the Cavern after the old Beatles fave gig).
Both of them, of course, came up with different measurements so we took the one most likely to fit (hey, you tell me). They ascertained the appropriate meterage/height and we bought the big new unit from Suplidora in Alajuela (p.s. this is south of the Agonia church by 200 meters and is a Surprisingly Good local electrical supply house).
The following Monday morning bright and early Suplidora delivered the tank. Of course it was too tall. So we commenced chipping away at the concrete of the "basement" to make it deeper due to the likely difficulties in raising the house. This then required we lay concrete in the "hot water" pit. As raw concrete tends to get Very Moldy we laid some left over tile in the new pit the next day. Small digression.
I checked with "ourguywhodoessuchthings" later the next day to see how it was going. He told me he had made the pit EVEN bigger so he could put the heater on a platform and he was busy fashioning a new platform out of recycled floorboards from the remodeling. It was taking longer than expected. I hadn't expected this part but it seemed to be the right thing.
Later I asked how it was going as guests had just arrived and there seemed to be no water anywhere except in the pit itself which was now brimming with the stuff (dripping water) and our guy is slopping around with electrical cables ankle deep in water.
Nonchalantly he opined "we have a small problemito" and that I "should not worry". I have learned that such responses are indicators of scale varying between the bite of a single fire ant (0) and loosing part of your torso to a Caribbean version of Jaws (10). I never know quite what to make of small problemitos . . . so generally I over react just in case I need to fend of Jaws in the next 10 seconds.
He explained that Many Years Ago whoever had done the plumbing had managed to pull it off with electrical conduit for the water tube (the pipe in his left hand) and it was of a different diameter to the water pipe (in his right hand). I could see he had a point. For a moment I thought perhaps we could "meld" them in some way as I had seen remarkable adapters in use with different sized water pipes used by the municipalidad. He said no, but he would need to revisit the subject (he never tells me when).
The next day 3 guys are under the Casa marveling at the creativity of their predecessor by maybe 15 years. They are not there later so I peek under the casa and into the new hole. Bits of pipe, valves of varying shapes, cut offs and so on lie haphazardly. I notice a large amount of plumbers tape in use
which always makes me nervous as I suspect it is a solution to a common problem with cross threading caused by those who claim a modicum of plumbing expertise in our neighborhood (everybody).
I find our guy again and ask where the Induni people are today. FYI Induni is a local pump store that does decent plumbing of pumps. Our water heater is located next to the water pumps in the same under casa cavern we had just excavated. Induni allows us to call them for water heater issues because (I think) the heater is so close to the pumps and they really don't trust us not to mess up the pumps. These are things that go through stupid gringo minds sometimes. Apparently, this is SUCH a simple job we do not need to call Induni in on this . . . and this is how it is explained to me many hours of work later.
I find our guy much later finally as the work day is ending and dusk is creeping up the Itikis valley. I ask him how it is going. He tells me "It is going well". I hold back the obvious question "do we have any hot water in the Casa yet?" for another day. I know it to be a bit too pre-emptive a question.
The next afternoon two guys are under the house - my guy and his plumbing assistant looking at some Rube Goldberg combination of tubes and a pipe with a "little appendage you can diddle with". I know enough about plumbing to stay well clear of such appendages.
My guy explains that it seems we have one too many valves - the new tank has its own valve and the old plumbing has its own valve which I am guessing is one valve too many. Unfortunately my guy had already gone to Induni, but being Saturday they were closed or didn't have the part that would allow us to discard the extra valve.
He explained that though it took a day to figure this out, he had made a command decision and would install the pipes with both valves. Later that day as dusk descended across and down to the Itikis river we get the news that connections had been made. I didn't want to ask about the electrical conduit issue anymore . . . I was in need of a hot shower!
We learn of this as we are driving home with supplies and my wife is given some additional information by phone which is how "my guy" lets me know about not such great news (he knows it is far safer if he tells her and then she finds better moments to let me know about them).
She explains as we park the Chariot up by the casa that things may not be all they seem. Yes, she says we have everything connected now (a couple of weeks later)! My stupid gringo mind puts this data together into a linear accelerator and I see nothing but hot water spinning out the end of the machine. Yes, she says, it is connected but there is an issue with the timer.
It seems we have 2 timers, one that is built into the new machine and the old Intermec timer which was how we managed the on and off timing on the old machine. We had left specific instructions to use the old timer because it was reliable. It seems that the combination of the two timers meant that the machine was now somewhat unpredictable and it "was just a small problemito" according to the relayed report from "my guy". He had somehow become bemused by a kind of electrical moebius strip of two interconnected timers talking to each other and shutting on and off in unpredictable ways.
"So, does that mean we have hot water this weekend or not?" I pondered. We think the answer is "some of the time but we are not sure when".
We have didled with the timers BTW, unfortunately our electrician appears to have pushed the new timer inside the new machine through excessive pushing of its buttons while trying to gain control of its brain. Sometimes you wish you had taken plumbing instead of economics in school. Then I'd know the real function of plumbers tape.