I currently have three working water heaters. That is correct. Not one, not two, but three. Here’s how that happened. Let’s start with solar. I bought my first solar heater about 10 years ago. It did not work at all. I still had my big gas heater connected, so I procrastinated for a few years. Finally, I complained at the hardware store where I purchased it and, to my surprise, it was removed, and I got a full refund.
I let that same hardware store convince me to buy another of a different make, an error. It worked sometimes, sometimes not. That’s like having a car that works Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but not Tuesday, Thursday or weekends, i.e. a useless car. It was a useless solar heater. Again it sat on the roof for a few years. We used our old Heat Master. I had lost faith in solar water heaters completely.
We’ve been using a big Heat Master for the past 16 or so years. Works great, but it’s getting long in the tooth. I don’t want to wake up one winter morning to find the water heater has succumbed in the night, but it is still working okay, so I didn’t want to replace it. I’ll just install an alternative, I told myself.
I called Jorge the plumber.
Jorge came over, and I told him my plan. Remove the solar heater from the roof and install downstairs an on-demand heater I had already purchased, a nice brand called Avera. Hmm, opined Jorge, I bet I can get the solar heater to work. I am 99 percent sure. Those are good odds, so I agreed. He worked on it for a couple of hours and left.
It must have been a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. It worked when he left, but not on the next day, so I was back where I started, and my wallet was $1,500 pesos lighter. And the Avera was still in the box.
I called Jorge again.
He said all his customers with solar heaters are very happy. My relatives with solar heaters love them too. I asked Jorge for a solar heater recommendation. He mentioned a company named Evergreen. Jorge has one on his house, so I bought an Evergreen. Jorge installed it. It works pretty well, but it takes a good while for hot water to arrive from the roof, and it’s not very hot in the mornings. But it’s far better than the previous solar heater.
A week later I called Jorge to come install the Avera, which he did. He left. The water was wonderfully hot but, I discovered, the pressure through the house was abysmal, and when I turned on the cold tap even a little bit, the Avera switched itself off completely. Useless. I was pissed.
Online investigation led me to the conclusion that the water pressure entering the Avera was insufficient. When that happens, it turns itself off. It doesn’t care if you’re covered in soap or not. That seems to be a quirk of on-demand heaters in general, not just Avera.
I called Jorge again, telling him I wanted a pressure pump installed on the cold water pipe entering the Avera. He did not think that was the problem, but I insisted.
He installed a pressurizer. It’s the orange thing in the photo.
It now works like gangbusters. The solar will serve as backup. The Heat Master is old and uses lots of gas, plus it has a permanent pilot light which the Avera does not. I turned off the Heat Master. I can switch easily to any of the three heaters, but now the Avera is my main man. Hot and forceful. It’s a volcano.