Farmer H may be retired, but that doesn't mean he is no longer on call. He had just plopped down in the La-Z-Boy this evening, with his pre-auction supper plate, a delicious platter of two hot dogs wrapped in biscuits, and some frozen curly fries, when his phone rang. It was HOS (His Oldest Son).
HOS had some questions about a water heater. Not HIS water heater, mind you, but the water heater of an old lady who's a relative or acquaintance of one of his cousins. That's how we do things around Hillmomba. We don't call repairmen. We call relatives of relatives of relatives.
HOS described the problem. The water heater had been shutting itself off, but not tripping the breaker. He described the wires. Red and blue and yellow. Their relative positions. THEN noted that there'd just been a buzzing sound, and smoke was coming from around the yellow wire.
Farmer H suggested that HOS send him a picture, because thinking through it, he couldn't figure out what was amiss. Not in those words, of course. "Send me a picture. I cain't tell what's wrong." He was perplexed by the video that came in. "Huh. I cain't keep it on my screen long enough to tell what's going on. And I can't blow it up. He needs to send me a picture." So he sent HOS a text asking for a picture. And got two.
After a detailed analysis in which he talked out loud, and took about two minutes, Farmer H called HOS and said there was nothing hooked up wrong. That it was probably a bad thermostat, even though HOS had insisted that it was a NEW water heater, that had been doing this for two weeks. Farmer H's suggestion was to TURN OFF THE POWER, remove a couple of those wires he named by color, and test the thermostat with some fancy electrical gewgaw to see if it showed ZERO or a number. A ZERO would mean a bad thermostat, which would need to be replaced.
We've had the same water heater for over 15 years. At least. Every time I suggest we need a new one because the water isn't getting hot, Farmer H drags the water heater out the basement door, and shovels a bunch of white powdery gunk out of its innards. Calcium deposits (Hillmomba is noted for its hard water). Then it works again.
Something tells me Farmer H might end up looking at this water heater as a favor to HOS. Maybe not. He might have better things to do with his endless leisure time.