I do intend a Cottage Life post soon that’s not about maintenance, but this isn’t it. I thought I was trying to fix the water heater, but in fact it became a four-way semantic mapping conundrum.
Well, if I’m going to take your time with sordid basement maintenance tale, I should at least salute nature visually first. When a big tree falls in the forest and eventually becomes fertile ground for other shrubs and trees as it rots, they call it a “nurse log”. I wonder if that term still applies if it ’s been through a spell as driftwood?
Back to the basement. The symptom was simple: no hot water. The technology was simple: there’s not much to an electric water heater. I bought a basic multimeter for the cottage and broke out the trusty Readers’ Digest Do-It-Yourself Guide.
First, figure out the multimeter. Unfortunately, its documentation had no pictures, and the text referred to the controls using terms other than those painted on them. Fortunately, the Readers’ Digest had a discussion about multimeters. Unfortunately the terms it used corresponded neither to the device nor its documentation.
I spent literally half an hour sticking the leads in an electrical socket and twiddling the dial before I figured out that you put it here for ohms, there for AC volts, and so on.
OK then, I stripped down the hot water tank. Fortunately, its insides looked just like the picture in the book. Unfortunately, the instructions referred to multimeter measurements in terms that did not correspond to those painted on the device, nor to those in its documentation, nor (especially pleasing) to those in its own how-to-use-a-multimeter instructions.
At this point I had to go outside to walk and breathe a bit. Ah, cottage life.
Eventually it became obvious that they were trying to say that there should be no resistance through either the thermostat or the override, and something less than infinity through the heating element. At which point it became obvious what to do and then, what to replace.
Next week, a relatively cheerful piece about snake bite.