The Electric Shower Head (March
Earlier in this most recent life, I described my efforts to
install a gas water heater (El Calentador de Agua)
My new house once had a gas water heater, but the owner took it with him!
(A common occurrence here.) Instead, now I have an electric shower head to
raise the water temperature on these chilly (65 degree) mornings. The
owner is an electrician by trade, so it is properly installed.
I had heard about these things from several of my friends,
but I had no first-hand experience. I do now, and I will share it with
you. First of all, let me say that I really don't have any idea how the
darn thing works. It has a couple of coils of heater wire inside the head
which obviously heat up, but I don't know what makes it go on or off. I
don't touch the controls, because it shocked me when I did.
First of all, there is no experience like being shocked with
110 volts, while standing wet and naked on a tile floor. As a electric
guitar player, I am used to being "lit up" a little when my amplifier
is not properly grounded and I am, but this is not the same. I don't recommend
Electrically, the head is rated at 40 amps, and
requires a separate well grounded circuit. The ground for my shower
head goes outside, down the wall, and hooks on to a 10-ft long copper rod which
is buried in the ground. (Very similar to the ground we put down for our
electric fences in Colorado.) Mechanically, the head is heavy, and
needs to be supported with wires or cords, as you can see in the
At first, I turned it on, and noticed that it really didn't
heat the water; it simply dulled the chill a little. I was thankful for
that, because I started taking showers in this house in mid-December and it was
remarkably chilly, especially for an old Gringo who's spoiled by steaming hot
showers. After a week or two of that, I remarked to my friend Julie that
it didn't work very well.
"Oh," she explained, "you have to start very
slowly, with just a little water."
I tried it, and sure enough, that's what you do. In
fact, here is my routine, now. I turn the water on full, running in to the
tub. I crack the shower diverter, which diverts water from the bathtub spigot
to the shower, so that it is about one-quarter on. I brush my
teeth or some other diverting activity you can do in the bathroom. By the
time I'm done, the water is warm, or even hot. I turn the diverter up
until it feels right. THEN I get in the shower!
Ground notwithstanding, I was being shocked regularly by the
water pipes. (!!) I puzzled over this for a couple of weeks, and
finally had an epiphany. Remember, I mentioned the electric fences in
Colorado. Well, Colorado is quite dry, and the ground used to dry
out. We sprinkled salt in the area, and watered the ground thoroughly to
get it back to working properly. Well, we've had a long dry spell here --
it's now March, and we haven't had a rain since the first week in January.
So the ground wasn't working. Needless to say, I watered it generously and
... no more shocks!! I now have my calendar marked "water
ground" one or twice a week.
The water coming out of the head was a trickle. The
holes in the head had been clogged by the very hard water we have here in
Corozal. The owner said "Soak it in Muriatic Acid," so I did
that. I turned off the circuit breaker, and unscrewed the bottom of the
head, carefully noting how it goes back together. A couple of tablespoons
of Muriatic Acid in a basin of water in the back yard, and two hours later, the
head was clean as a whistle. (RIX FIX-IT is available to come and do that
for you if you need it done.)
One other note. There is a spray hose attached to the
shower head which you can use to spray the intimate parts of your body which are
not easy sprayed with an overhead shower. This thing is hooked onto a
spout on the side of the head. It comes loose occasionally, and I had to
secure it with a clamp fashioned from a paperclip so that it won't come loose in
the middle of a shower. There is a tricky little valve on the end of this
hose, and when I turn it on, it gives me a nice douche of warm water. When
I turn it off, the entire head goes cold. I think this has something to do
with the physics of how the head works -- it is controlled by pressure.
Anyway, I do this at the end of my shower, when I'm ready for a little cold
water. As the summer comes on -- and it is surely coming already -- I will
appreciate the coldness at the end.
If you have additional info about the head, please pass it
on, and I will share it.
Copyright, Sr_Ric, 2005. All rights reserved.
From the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Look here.
(Not the same brand, tho.)