Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hot Water

This past week, my parents have been visiting me from the States. After 4 years in Peru, the timing was finally right for them to make a trip "down south". We spent a few days in the city of Arequipa, where I studied Spanish when I first came to Peru. The family I lived with during that time has a son that is my age. It was a pleasure to attend his wedding while we were there as I know the grooms parents and the bride is a friend of mine as well.

Upon returning to Pucallpa, dad and I got busy installing a hot water heater for my shower. Until this time I have not had any hot water in the house. In typical Peruvian ingenuity, we used a towel drying rack, mounted to the ceiling, to support the shower head as it would sag under the weight of the water in the head unit.

This type of water heater is not like the kind you find in the USA, it is a glorified shower head that takes the place of a "normal" shower head. There is a metal coil or resistor inside of the head which, when connected to 220 volts of electricity, heats up and glows cherry red. Water is then passed over the coil and the heat is transfered to the water making it warm instead of cold. Due to the fact that water is a conductor of electricity and the coil/heater is electrically energized there is the potential for getting an electric shock. Thus the term "widow maker" is affectionately used to describe this kind of water heater.

I still have to clean up some of the wiring and install a grounding rod, but I did take my first warm shower at the house last night. Something I have not been able to do since I moved in two years ago! Now if worse does come to worse, at least it wont be a cold demise...


Jason A said...

You gotta be kidding.... The heating coil is in the shower head?? 220v in the shower stall with you?


At least don't stand on the metal drain with wet feet.

(oh boy....)

No GFI breaker either I'll bet.

Jason A said...

220 volts in the shower stall with you?!?!?!

At least tell me there is a GFI breaker.....

Just don't stand on the metal drain when your all wet.

hoo boy.....!

Ed said...

Shoot! This is so common in the other parts of the world that it's hardly worth commenting about. However, now that I'm here and since I was deeply involved in the installation of it, it is worth mentioning that this is maybe one of the most common ways to heat water for a shower in many parts of the globe. The thing is controlled by a resistor and that's what makes it both safe and reliable. There's even a cute little ground wire sticking into the water cavity that will help take any of the tingle out of the experience. I highly endorse this idea.