While the winter weather in Kentucky can be challenging, we are lucky to live in today’s day and age where we have technology and modern conveniences to keep the cold at bay.

Except when you don’t have them. This morning we woke up to no hot water. Thankfully it wasn’t completely cold but it definitely wasn’t hot, warm or even lukewarm. I told my wife that it wasn’t lukewarm, it was just “luke”.

My troubleshooting skills kicked in an I was able to determine that 1) we hadn’t run out of propane and 2) it wasn’t necessarily the hot water heater. The electronic ignition would light the pilot light, the pre-flame would ignite and then the burn would fizzle out. It would then reset and repeat in 20 seconds. Hence the reason for the “luke” water. It made for a very challenging and very quick morning shower. The rest of the family decided on the stink option rather than the freeze option.

I was lucky enough to get home from work early so I could continue working the problem and lo and behold we had hot water. A buddy had pointed me towards the possibility that there could have been moisture in the propane tank/line and it froze in the regulator constricting full propane flow causing the water heater to operate as it did. That appears to have been the issue and I contacted the propane company who will look at it Wednesday when they come for a refill. I am very tempted to continue my problem solving and to start a redundant/backup electric water heater installation. It can’t hurt.

This is just a good reminder that there are many in the world who go without and we Americans are quite spoiled in our day to day lives. We are lucky that this only affected us for a day (although I am the only one who had to endure a cold shower). And we also have neighbors who offered for us to come over for a hot shower.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net


  1. Kent says:

    Howdy Dan, for your emergency back up you should check out the “Tankless” water heaters. Kent

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Kent…..thanks for your suggestion. I’ve seen those — both the whole house instant water heaters and the point of use. I am leary for a few reasons. For the whole house ones, if you look at their GPH output, it doesn’t take much to overwhelm the system. With a family of 5, that doesn’t take much. With the point of use, most often they put them by the shower or bath, usually in an adjoining closet. I can’t think of a much worse place to put a flame or high output electric device — with a bunch of hanging closes and crap that would make for nice burning. I know they enclose it and such but call me paranoid.

    What I am researching is GE’s new hybrid water heater. It has a standard elec element for quick water heating. However, on top it has a heat pump that it uses for normal use and continued heating. It is VERY efficient and pretty cool technology. Unfortunately, they are quite pricey right now but I see that changing.