Bad water heater, deer hunting, and wood furnace update

I’ll start with the wood furnace: I’ve been burning wood for just over a month now and I think the propane furnace kicked on once during that time (and at that, its because I needed to change the schedule a bit to give myself more time in the morning to get the fire going). I am estimating I’ll use 240-300 gallons per year with water heating, clothes drying, and cooking, so the 60% left in my tank will last easily to the summer time so I can fill up when propane is cheaper. That saved me the $60 to lock in rates plus the multiple fills of propane (it would normally be filled twice totalling around 700 gallons over the winter). Its a good thing too because at the end of October I noticed my hot water was awful brown / red looking. Hot water on the left, cold water on the right. Yikes! Given that the water heater is original to the house (circa 2000) its probably time for a new water heater. So its a good thing I’ll be saving $1000+ on propane since thats about what I’ll be spending on a new water heater.

red water








So that brings me to the water heater. Looking them up it looks like cheap metal chimney type water heaters start around $400-500, plastic power vent (which is what I needed) start at $600-700 and only have a 6 year warranty. While looking though I found a tankless water heater that was on sale for $1000 (normally $1300) and was rated for 3.7 gpm at a 77 degree rise. With 2.5gpm shower heads and the fact you don’t run the water at full heat I figured that would likely be sufficient for our house most of the time. The real selling factor for me was that power vent water heaters were around 70% efficient and the tankless was 95% efficient. I found some statistics saying the average house uses 40-80 gallons of hot water per day. At the lower end of that and with me being on propane I figured the $300 difference would be paid off in 2 years or so and after that it would be cheaper to run. Plus, I now have unlimited hot water. Another selling point of this one is that it has a built in recirculating pump so I can plumb in another line and always have hot water ready to go (and its programmable so it’ll only do that when you tell it to. Sweet! Not so sweet was installing it without help; that was a full day ordeal changing over the gas line from 1/2″ to 3/4″, redoing all the plumbing, and even just hanging the 90lb water heater on the wall and getting it on the bracket that you can’t see. One other tip, if it isn’t SDS it isn’t a hammer drill! THe $50 “hammer drill” from the hardware store does NOT cut it when drying to drill into concrete. I finally got 2 of the 4 holes deep enough to get in a sleeved anchor to hang the bracket. If you are ever going to have occasion to drill into concrete more than one hole it is worth it to go to harbor freight and spend about $75 there to get their rotary hammer. If you can afford a better brand by all means go ahead, but get yourself a “rotary hammer” over a “hammer drill” and you will save a ton of frustration and tearing up your tools. So, the new water heater is installed and leak free.

I won’t spend much time on deer season, but I got myself a nice little buck and netted out with 44lbs of trimmed meat. I probably could have upped that another 5-10lbs if I had a good grinder that could handle the silver skin, but my little kitchenaide attachment would NOT have been able to deal with that so I trimmed all the silver skin off of all the meat which added to the waste. A future year will bring me a GOOD grinder I’m sure, but I hadn’t been deer hunting in about 8 years so the attachment has handled the commercial meat that has gone through. I do have a doe tag still and about 5 weeks to fill it so hopefully I’ll get one more. I’m much better at cooking now than I was 10 years ago so I’ll be able to make the meat MUCH more tasty.

Back to the wood heat a moment, I am still learning with the fires, just this morning I made a fire that didn’t really burst into flames like I thought it would, but it turned into a giant pile of coals. That would be great to replicate when I WANT to, but this morning the house was 64 and the low burning fire didn’t really take the chill off very effectively. I didn’t have enough criss crossing going on I think so the flames didn’t really catch all the wood effectively.

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