The water was only lukewarm when I opened the shower door and reached in to feel it. I shrugged, guessing I hadn’t turned the water valve open far enough to get the heat I wanted. Pushing the valve further open, I stepped under the disappointing cascade of water and warily waited for the much hotter water to begin pelting my skin. Moments passed as I cold shampooed my hair. The shower stubbornly stayed a constant lukewarm temperature. An alarm began to go off in the responsible, homeowner, adult portion of my mind, “What’s wrong with the hot water heater?”
Refreshed by the shower despite its unsatisfying water quality, I quickly forgot about running to the basement to check the water heater. That act of responsibility reentered my mind several hours later as I cleaned the kitchen counters and the kitchen faucet gave an abundance of hot water for me to rinse a dish cloth. I sighed with relief, “There’s nothing to worry about. The hot water heater is fine.”
The next morning, I got up and washed my face as usual. The water from the tap was only just warm, but I attributed that to not having let the water run long enough. With water pipes snaking through the walls of a house up to a second-floor bathroom, it isn’t reasonable to expect instant hot water.
An hour later when I turned on the kitchen faucet, not a single drop of water came out. Deep in the plumbing below the counter I heard, “glurp”, the sound of a pipe choking on an air bubble.