Chicken Theory: Excerpt 187

Scene: Chicken and BigB are leaning against the kitchen counters drinking the delicious French roast that Chicken got up early and made while BigB caught up on his beauty sleep.

Chicken: BigB, I think there is a problem with the water heater.

BigB: What is it?

Chicken: In the morning when I take my shower the water doesn’t get very hot and it runs out quickly.

BigB: Well, the water heater is getting old, it might be time to replace it.

Chicken: Maybe or it could just be the time of year and the time/temperature ratio.

BigB: (cautiously) The….time/temperature ratio?

Chicken: Yes. You know. How the early mornings are approximately 15 degrees colder than later in the day.

BigB: And where did you read that.

Chicken: I don’t know. But it’s a common fact. Everyone knows that.

BigB: It’s not a fact.

Chicken: Pretty sure it is.

BigB: Pretty sure it is not. Pretty sure you just made that up. But explain to me how that has anything to do with the water heater.

Chicken: (waves hands excitedly). Ok, this is my theory: Here’s the water heater, right, and it is the middle of a November night, and it is getting colder and colder…brrr… Anyway. The water heater is working away, keeping the water hot, chugga chugga chugga…keeping it at just the right temperature per the carefully chosen green setting of just right, and not the blue setting of “why bother”, nor the red setting of “melt the skin off your face”, and then I get up in the dark at six-thirty, a whole hour before you, and I turn on the shower. (looks expectantly at BigB).

BigB: Yeessss?

Chicken: Well, the temperature is 15 degrees colder than it will be by the time YOU get up, and when you apply the 15 degree temperature difference to our copper pipes, that equates to a 30 degree temperature difference per the copper pipe/temperature difference ratio…

BigB: (eyes rolling wildly) So now there’s a pipe/temperature ratio?

Chicken: Put it this way, BigB. On a hot sunny day in the middle of the summer would you just walk up to a pipe that’s been lying in the sun and grab it? No you wouldn’t. It would burn your hand. So if you take away the sun, bury the pipe, and drop the temperature, what do you think happens? The pipe gets colder because it’s like, it’s like…it’s like it is cold blooded and depends on the sun for warmth. It’s physics. Where did you go to school, anyway?

BigB: Not the “School of Imaginary Theory” where you apparently were valedictorian.

Chicken: (Bats eyes facetiously) Focus BigB. So the water is waiting in the basement, all nice and appropriately warmed, and then I turn on the shower.  Now it has to travel from the basement up to the second floor through the cold pipes and by the time it gets there, it is 30 degrees cooler than it was.  So the poor water heater is chugging and chugging away in the basement trying to produce more hot water, but it just can’t keep up so it gets frustrated and stops trying.

BigB: OMG Chicken, the water heater does not get frustrated.

Chicken: I know. Just making sure you are listening. The rest is perfectly logical, though.

BigB: What? No it’s not. Nothing you said makes any sense at all. You don’t know how the water heater works or how the pipes work or even that the pipes are copper. You made all that shit up.

Chicken: I know nothing? Is that right? You obviously have forgotten how our house almost blew up nine years ago because you thought the funny smell was from the oil tank and I saved all our lives when I insisted the gas company check the pipe in the study. Remember that BigB? Remember how you and the gas company geezer laughed at me? Because we don’t have gas heat? Because it was an old pipe? And remember how I asked him to humor me so he did? And oh! Guess what? We had a gas leak because that pipe was still connected to the city system and the valve wasn’t turned off tightly enough. I saved your butt BigB. Fact. Does that sound like a person who knows nothing?

BigB: Oh that’s right. The gas debacle of 2003. You got lucky, Chicken.

Chicken: No, YOU got lucky, BigB.  You should listen to me more.

BigB: Because you have all the answers?

Chicken: Well now that you mention it, not always. For example, I’ve often asked myself why you get to sleep an hour later than me and I haven’t really come up with a good answer for that.

BigB: That’s what all this is really about, isn’t it?  You’re getting cranky because I sleep later than you?  Silly Chicken. You get up an hour earlier than me because your alarm is set for 6:30 and my alarm is set for 7:30. It’s the clock/alarm/shower schedule ratio.

Chicken: Touche, BigB, Touche.

BigB: I’m going to take a shower.

Chicken: Enjoy. I warmed up the pipes for you.

Sleep well, World. Chicken is on duty.

Chicken out

  14 comments for “Chicken Theory: Excerpt 187

  1. Anonymous
    November 27, 2011 at 4:43 am

    I think there's a lot to your theory. Hot water traveling through a cold pipe is bound to lose heat, after all the first statement of the 2nd law of thermodynamics – heat flows spontaneously from a hot to a cold body. So, the hot water will warm the pipe, thus losing some of it's energy “heat” to the cold pipe (and the colder the pipe the more heat will be lost). And, since BigB takes the shower after you, the pipes would not “siphon off” the heat, since you've in fact already warmed them up. So you are right. And if you do have a timer on your tank (to maximize energy efficiency, and you forgot to reset it with the end of daylight savings time, you are also hitting the nail on the head with the time/temp theory.

    But, BigB is also right in that you probably need a new water heater. See if you can have the plumber re-use your old hot water heater as a tempering tank–it will save you lots of money.

    Enjoyed the post as always, Chicken

    CB out


  2. November 27, 2011 at 5:03 am

    This is a prodigy in story telling or merely the feat of a great memory giving us a summary of a slice of their daily life.
    Loved it.
    I always clarify issues that my wife questions by stating : Because we are different animals.
    Or my argument closing line : I understand you.


  3. dbs
    November 27, 2011 at 6:46 am

    I like these types of conversations.


  4. November 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    CB: Now see? If I had thrown around the word “thermodynamics”, I'm sure BigB would have listened. I need to learn some bigger words. When you explain it, it makes perfect sense. However, let's not forget the larger issue here, and that is the fact that I'm like a human pipe warmer for the rest of my lazy family which really doesn't seem fair seeing as I also do all the cooking.

    Carlos! Hi friend. So happy to hear from you again. This story is partially biographical and partially BS per my profile which states you are safe believing approximately 52% of whatever I write here. Which 52% you believe is entirely up to you. My closing argument is more along the lines of “What planet are you from?”, so maybe that's where I'm going wrong! Thanks for visiting:-)

    DBS: Yes, marriage is just such good blog fodder, isn't it? Along with parenting.


  5. November 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    OMG this sounds like a conversation I recently had at my house. In fact this sounds like pretty much every conversation that happens here !

    (and seriously we do have a hot water heater that doesn't heat up so well when it's cold outside )I totally get what you're saying. Well Ok most of it.


  6. November 28, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Hi, Chicken.
    I've always wanted to bat my eyes facetiously.
    Big B sounds like a smartie pants if I ever met one. A very handsome smartie pants, no doubt.
    And good to know about the old pipe not being tightened enough… I feel like my study sometimes has a gassy smell but don't have gas heat, so always think I'm imagining it, but now I'm going to get it checked. See? You said that facetiously, but you really are on duty for the world.
    Good night.


  7. November 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    The October Snow storm left a lot of us without heat or hot water. We were lucky that power came back in forty hours, but some people had to do without resources for just about a week.


  8. November 30, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Hey Punk, so glad you are blogging again. Yes, batting eyes facetiously is serious fun. I do it whenever I can. But seriously, no eye-batting, if you are smelling gas, get it checked out and be prepared for the geezer gas guy to smirk at you.

    Munir-I'm glad your heat and electric came back on without too long of a wait (even 40 hours must seem like forever, though!). The Oct storm was a lot different then the hurricane in at least it was warm then!


  9. December 1, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I always sleep better knowing you're there, watching out for me.

    I get up an hour before the husband does. It makes me mental and not a little kill-happy.


  10. December 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I love discussing the time-space continuum with my husband, along with how to fix appliances. He usually wins the space one; I an the queen of fixing stuff and he always is in awe. I tell him Google is a powerful thing! You should definitely Google you heater theory…


  11. December 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Oh Chicken, when I am away, I miss you dearly.

    Now, see, I've got the same philosophy! Although you spell it out so much more eloquently and I sure as hell think you know what you're talking about.

    But it is true, my hot water is never as hot in the brutal 6 week winter of Florida. Seriously, when all i want is for my frozen blood to boil, that water cannot get hot enough. But for the rest of our summery year, the heat blasting through those pipes is endless.

    I think you are right! And I'm standing by your theory.


  12. December 2, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Hi Suniverse-I am so glad I am not the only one that gets petty about the clock/alarm/shower thing. Although I still think it is a conspiracy. So maybe we should be occupying it or something. But how would that work, since we are the only ones up?

    Meg! I wish you would come to my house and fix my washer. And my hot water tank. OK, I will google it.

    Joann-Oh, I miss you, too, Missy! And yes, I never have this problem in the warm weather, which is how I know I am right, but seeing as no one else is up, I am the only person who can say and no one ever believes me. I think it is in the overly dramatic delivery. I'm glad you are on my side.


  13. December 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    perfectly logical. the same goes for the thermostat reading in winter vs. summer. it's always a colder 70 degrees in january than it is in august. my ex used to say 70 degrees is always 70 degrees. pfffft. not when you consider the bone chill or draft ratios. i'm like a human thermometer, you want to know the ACTUAL temp, you ask me. or you, chicken.


  14. December 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Punker: YES! You are exactly right about the seasonal variance of temperatures. Peope should ask us about stuff more often, don't you think?


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