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Museum of the Exploded Water Boiler/Die Katastrophe

posted Mar 9, 2009, 6:35 AM by Lucian Cosinschi   [ updated Mar 11, 2009, 6:22 AM ]
A week passed since Clayton woke me up around 3.30 in the morning strongly underlining "now" in "I need you right now!". For unknown reasons our warm water source exploded and it was spectacularly spraying (cold) water on top of itself and the walls surrounding it. Maybe it need it cooling, maybe it was just too old - fact is a full power water stream was directed upwards from the boiler. Now, the way gravitation works is to take that water and shove it in our internet router and external hard drive one shelf below. Moreover, it would take the water all the way a couple of floors under us.

First round

Quick fix !? - master water stopper. First problem: where is it? It should be next to the water clock but whatever I'm turning does not stop the water. Somewhere else, bathrooms, etc? Clayton, Johannes and me follow the pipes only to discover that there is no master water stopper or if it is, it does not work.
Second quick fix - take the damn electricity out of the device. We did a check when we moved in but we identified most circuits but not this one.

Second round

The two shelves that were in the crammed space of the room fly out along with everything that we piled inside: tool boxes, paint cans, all sort of other things that we had no idea where else it should be.
Still the water flows but at least we can put some towels to dry some of the water. There is a dry wall the obstructs access to the pipes. Also there could be (oh, how fun!) water accumulating behind it so I cut two holes in the wall and we manage to put a bucket right next to the pipes. We do see however, that there is no other water stopper. Any idea?

Third round
  (the last) and the conclusion
Maybe we can stop the water wherever it escapes. So now I try hard to remove the boiler's plastic cover to see the root (or should I say "the spring"). Remember the electricity connection? It is still there and I can certify it. Not so much fun as it is 380V not the familiar 220V that I was used to in childhood. Even if the water was pouring on the surface I do not feel any shock when I touch it so I go on trying to remove to cover. Inside there was accumulated water infested with electricity that bit my finger as soon as I managed to release it. But, as it is often the case, after hardship there's light - the cover was removed and I notice a small stopper on the pipe that feeds that boiler.  Now the water flows freely on the exposed cables and as I had enough fun with the first electric shock I'm thinking not to have another one. Clayton saves the day when he finds a leather glove that, I hope, will not have the time to get wet when I'm finished with turning the stopper. And it worked.

It was a nice wet mess left behind so we decided to create a Museum out of it. After talking to the emergency service (who encouraged us to deal with it on our own) we created nice word cards. "Die Katastrophe" is quite the same on all languages we had available at the time so it internationally describe our small problem.


The Hausmeister showed up around lunch time, after him the pipe people and the electrician. All really nice and helpful - enough so that on Wed morning we already had warm water coming from a new machine.
On Friday somebody check the humidity in the walls and floor - it seems they will also dry them soon.

Lesson learned

Find out where the master stoppers are when you move into a place. Ah...and check if they work. Ultimately, giving a bit of thought to how and what flows through the house may save a lot.
Ah...and if you have "DE" on some breakers in the main electricity panel - they letters may come from Durchlauferhitzer. What do you think it means?