Going Green Gone Bad: Attention Historic District Home Owners

Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dear Editor,

This summer my husband and I decided to go green. We had foam insulation sprayed in our attic and decided to replace two fully functioning gas water heaters with a new Rinnai tank less water heater. Of course we asked the usual questions regarding efficiency, cost savings, and the ability to manage the load of a large historic home. We were assured that lots of people were making the switch and were more than satisfied.

That was six months ago. The unit ran reasonably well after adjustments were made to the on demand system. On Dec 20th the hot water came to a screeching halt and we haven’t had hot water since! Yes, we have reverted to bathing in a camper trailer after using facilities at the YMCA for the last week. The interesting thing is that no one seems to know why it doesn’t work.

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The plumbing contractor states that the unit isn’t getting enough gas (all of a sudden). The manufacture says if it is a gas problem we can’t return the several thousand dollar unit and exchange it for regular tank water heaters. The gas company’s response has been baffling too. Their engineer told us that we only have a “1/4 of a lb of pressure” compared to the rest of the city that has 40 or more lbs of pressure per square inch. Their explanation for why after six months it quit working was simple: now there is a huge draw on the gas with cold weather and the pressure is not enough to sustain the unit.

Even more amazing is that we are entering our 10th day without hot water and no one seems really interested in fixing it with the exception of Tommy Swindle from Alagasco. He has gone out of his way to try and figure out what if anything can be done. Short of improving the infrastructure in the historic district which ALAGASCO is not able or willing to do in order to get us more gas, nothing can be done. After our visit to the gas company three days ago to speak to a manager, we were told that he was out to lunch and would call us call back, and we haven’t even heard from him yet.

Then there is the issue of the plumbing contractor. Of course the gas company says that the plumbing contractor was notified that the pressure was low when he was advised to use bigger lines during installation. He states on the other hand he feels like the gas company should have told him that the unit wouldn’t work.

Well everyone, I’ve got a news flash. Someone is responsible. Someone should have told the HOMEOWNER that a tank less unit might not work in this 10-12 block low pressure zone. The gas company sends a bill every month. They set up new accounts for home owners in the historic district. Either they need to improve their infrastructure or they need to make people aware in writing of the potential problems that exist.

Well, friends and neighbors add the public utility infrastructure, to the crime, crumbling roads and sewers, and the demolition by neglect issues that go without attention until someone finally says enough is enough.

By the way, if you see me coming out of a motor home with a robe and a towel on my head, don’t worry I am not going crazy; we just still don’t have hot water.


Dr. Monica Newton

Selma City Councilwoman Ward 3