Time for us to gavel-in another meeting of our Board of Directors.  Since you’re still reading, congratulations! You have just joined the Board.

A short agenda for this morning’s meeting: We have an old water heater that came out of the Brother-in-Law’s apartment when he noticed (before disaster struck thankfully) that there was water around the inlet and outlet pipes.  Tightening didn’t resolve it.

Sure enough, this cheaply made POS had started to leak exactly at the warranty expiration. Funny how that works, eh?


This is a short 110V tank that is ideal for our application.

But now that it leaks, what to do with it?

Elaine has been contemplating the problem: Best she’s come up with is to get some paint and turn it into some kind of yard art. I could weld on some re-bar and we could make a fake robot to guard the property…you know, fanciful stuff like that. Maybe get a fake head from a Halloween shop. Put that up with the robot-legs and arms. Silly, ain’t it? Hang a power cord of it, too…

Actually sounds like fun…but we DO have real projects with something more than a high-camp Art payoff to it. Things like money and food rank higher on my LOSTD (list of stuff to do).

But there are other ideas:

One is to tear it up and turn it into a smoker.

Maybe a small fire pit. But it’s hard to beat the 55-gallon drums for that, so don’t need it. And in terms of BBQ, we have a kick-butt stainless steel grill and this fall, I will set up the stainless steel propane stove with oven.  These may out live us.

Even have a spare rocket stove, too, so in terms of prepping, it’s hard to find a hole there.

In terms of water storage, we thought about a low pressure system for catching water. But we have a 500-gallon plastic unit for that, so no joy down that road.

We have a yet-to-be installed small cast iron box stove (and the ceiling pass-through kit) so no point in trying to weld it into a stove or burning device of any kind.

Which gets us to the real bottom line here for our Monday morning agenda: What should we do with it?

Post comments and suggestions: This is a free call, operators are standing by, void where prohibited, member FDIC, license number1234567u, see details at dealership.

Life-Span Warrantees?

My experience with this small water heater is more than somewhat problematic. We have another one in the “big house” which is also one of the compact variety. No, not because it was cheaper. It just made sense to us that we didn’t need to pay to keep 55-gallons of hot water hot all the time when 45 gallons would do us just fine. How much can two people (most of the time) use, anyway? We have never run out of hot water yet, even with guests.

Still, the failure of this one leads me to start shopping for a replacement. Know how you get the “itchy hairs on the back of your neck” when something is nearing the end of its lifespan? Had one of those…

The problem is everything I have found in the form-factor I want is in the five-year or seven-year warranty range.

A little shopping around the Home Depot website revealed something interesting: Watyer Heater manufacturers seem to have warranties based on price.

Rheem, for example offers (near as I can figure it):

  • A Performance line with a 6 year warranty.
  • A Performance Plus line with 9 years coverage.
  • A Platinum line which has 12-years worth.
  • And their Marathon line with a Lifetime Warranty.

Westinghouse marketing isn’t so spread-out: Cheapie unites with 5 or six years or Lifetime. Damned if I can remember when we put ours in which one we got. But I didn’t see a Rheem short Marathon unit at the time…but a few things have run on those neurons besides which water heaters warranty level, know what I mean? I think it’s Westinghouse which means it could fail any minute.

Our current water heater has been in five years…and value engineering is really P&L-speak for “things that break 10-minutes after the warranty poops out…

I sort of “get that” but I am troubled by companies turning out products that are likely to fail at 5 or 6 years (maybe they’d go 7, but we don’t know). The reason this is troublesome is that if we really live in a world where quality and consideration of the environment means something other than political jargon-spew, shouldn’t we all be on the Lifetime products bandwagon by now?

Elaine picked something off one of the channels she was watching last week that goes along the same line: France is about to become the first country in the world to outlaw plastic utensils and dishware for take-out by 2020.

I was shocked at this, but sure enough (Elaine is never wrong) the facts are revealed in an Associated Press story here.

This little run-in with the possibility of a new water heater got me to thinking seriously about whether we should – as a country – enact some minimum service life (MSL) requirements on certain kinds of products.

Just look at how many water heaters or mowers or OMG drills you buy in a lifetime.  WTF?  Even cars, OMG cars…don’t start me there.

It would be good for the environment and while a bit of pain at first, it would actually change how the world of manufacturing (and their value engineering BS) as well as maximum consumption marketing work.

I’ll give you another one: Familiar whine with me: After four years of use my Briggs and Stratton powered Husqvarna riding mower wouldn’t start. Not being that guy who takes everything to a specialist (which no one but God could afford, anyway), I got to the root of the problem.

It was a $9 gear that is made of plastic and sits on top of the starter motor.


I called Briggs and asked for their PR department (this was a couple of year back, but I’ve sworn off B&S products until they get this fixed) I was given some gibberish about how a “metal gear wouldn’t work.:

Horse crap.

My car, truck, airplane, tractor, generator and so forth all managed to figure out how to use a METAL starting gear…so why couldn’t they?

One of our readers works for Kubota over in Georgia…I offered to hook them up so they could learn something. No bites.

But this all folds-in to a Monday whine of mine: we have a global economy that is about to be flushed, just as soon as the Big Money people pull off this charade of an election.

Once that happens, they will trash the economy, we will all become even more the tax slaves we are (like we’re not already) and be beholden even more to the rich who will crap down hill on us. (If the you miss the reference, drink more coffee…)  Then a “bail-in” because they will convince the stupid it is needed – just like you need a car-jacking, too.

Some things,  like national health care good ideas – if you get insurance profiteers out of the middle of it.

Same with good pharmacology: It’s a fine thing if you bar statistical consultants from twisting the math to “prove efficacy” (You didn’t know they were out there?  Yeah, they’re really out there…) then MAYBE we could get on with getting some things fixed.

But seriously?

  • A phone with a 7-month useful life?
  • Riding mowers trying to die at five?
  • Water heaters that go out at 6-years?
  • Big screens that last three or four?

I’m blessed with some technical ability so my three matching 28-inch monitors I’ve had about six years are all working fine with rebuilt power supplies.  How many people do you know who have a soldering station, solder wick, and can work on things at t5he board level.  I mean besides you and me?  This is the great planet wrecker…building stuff to break.

Imagine:  If things all lasted twice as long, we could work half as hard…that sure appeals to me…

So answer me this:Why isn’t there a MSL (minimum service life, remember?) requirement that forbids manufacturers from making things that are designed to fail?

It could be phased in…and yes, that would mean we would have to amp up an arts and spiritual products approach to replace the designed-to-fail economy.

But it’s about to fail anyway, so why not just buy super quality, so when collapse happens, you will still have quality stuff that works and can be used for a while…

OK, don’t wind me up too much: Anger is bad, blood pressure is high enough, and it’s Monday. Time to rise and shine and put on the thin verneer of civilization that makes it possible to get through the day for the crowds that take Paxil, Welbutrin, and carry concealed.

Did I mention my (trial balloon) idea that no one on mood altering drugs should be allowed access to firearms? “If you can’t cope, you can’t carry” would be a decent slogan. Go possession of firearms with a blood alcohol level same as driving, too, while we’re talking common sense.

Ah…too hard these questions for a Monday. We’ll save that rap for a rainy day this winter.

Write when you get rich,