Wednesday, July 12, 2006

High and Dry?

When we first moved to Amman, we lived in a rented apartment. It was a nice apartment and I suspect fairly typical of rented places. We were having problems getting hot water, so I complained to El 3atal about the fact that the water wasn't getting hot. I turned on the hot faucet and nothing happened. Five, ten, fifteen minutes later, the water was still cold. What was going on? Finally, El 3atal got smart and asked if I'd turned on the boiler. Done what? Turned on the boiler, why? It wasn't cold outside, we didn't need the heat on. Okay, so color me confused and surprised. You actually have to heat the water in the boiler and then it comes up through the pipes? There's no pilot light like in the US that keeps the water in the hot water heater hot? Ah, a learning experience. I love those, although I prefer ones that aren't quite so frigid. And now, for the honest truth. It's a secret I try to keep, so don't tell anyone. (whispering) I'm not the most patient person in the world. (whispering done) After a month and a half or so, it seemed like it was taking nearly an hour for the water to heat. Patience, I told myself. Things here just work differently. Finally, it seems like the water just plain stopped heating at all. After the third day of cold showers after waiting an hour, I complained. My mother in law came to take the situation in hand. Okay, you're in now right. you HAVE to know what it was... here it is. We were out of solar (the gas that powers the boiler). Oh, and the long time it took before... there was an issue with the switch that pumps the water and it wasn't functioning properly. So, all my patience was in fact just letting the system stay broken. Perhaps patience isn't such a virtue after all.

Fast forward to our new place. Imagine my surprise when, one day, the water just stopped. No warning at all, no sputtering. Just no water suddenly. What's up with that, I wanted to know. Another brilliant question from El 3atal. Did you turn on the pump? What pump? What is he talking about. Am I speaking another language? It sounds like English, but it makes no sense. Now, come to find out that the government open the taps, as it were, for us 3 days a week. During that time, the well under the building is filled. The pump gets the water from the well under the building to the container on the roof. Oh, so that light switch isn't really a light switch. I see. And then it hits me, wait a minute! There's only water coming 3 days a week? Ah, so now I know I'm really in a foreign country. I'm so glad that folks here have had this situation for a long while. otherwise some idiot like me would come along and build a house with no pumps, no wells, no containers on the roof, nothing. And then where would we be? High and dry, of course...

Wishing you and yours quenched thirst and hot showers.


At 10:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish someone would sit down and explain this whole system to us when we first get here. In fact, every time you move into a new house, they should tell you. I guess most people here just know the right questions to ask.

As for me, we got an instant hot water heater installed in the shower a few weeks ago and I LOVE it. No waiting for an hour and a half for the boiler to heat up!

(By the way, there should be valves that you can turn on your radiators so that you don't have to heat your house if you want hot water. In the winter, running the hot water through the radiators kills two birds with one stone, but in the summer, you can do without the extra heat!

At 10:44 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...


It's nice to know I'm not the only one having these issues. In fact, both our other place and this DO have knobs to turn of the heat while leaving on the boiler. In the old place, though, we simply had the landlady turn of the heat while leaving the boiler on. MUCH easier. Once we moved in here for the year, we went ahead and installed a timer, so now we decide when we want hot water and can override anytime. That's the way to go. I'm lucky to have an insider here who knows these kinds of things... Too bad he waits so late to share them with me. I think a national manual would be appropriate. It could have pictures of every known heater/boiler combination and explain what you should do... Teehee.

At 9:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yikes i forgot about that part...4 days of normal hot water..and then 4wks jordon's definatly not moving to jordon..but is a lot better than before..i remember when living in lebanon we had to put wood in the little compartment at the bottom and make a fire to get that thing to heat up...i guess it made sense since at that time the electricity would be gone for days..ah the good(not really) old days..
o and we had a big silo to hold water at the attic...i didnt know they they still did that...i wonder if they still do it lebanon too..i guess i'll never know!

At 9:59 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...


Boy even my dh doesn't talk about having to actually "heat" the water. The most trouble he talks about is before the innovation of putting pump switches inside the house. Then they had to go outside to the pump itself to plug it in. I imagine most places in this part of the world still ahve cisterns on the roof for the water. Storage is a totally different matter when water is limited and doesn't just come through the pipes on demand...


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