Monday, November 9, 2009

Smoke Detector Fun and "Hot" Showers

Last weekend I went to my rental house to bring the new lease to my tenants. I went inside and she invited me to look around. While we were in the hallway I heard a "chirp", the tell-tale sound of a smoke detector with a dying battery. I stared at the smoke detector to make sure that was what it was. Of course, it didn't chirp but I heard another chirp from the living room. I went over there. Then I heard another chirp from one of the bedrooms. I asked her if they have been chirping long and she said that she hadn't noticed it. She thought the chirping was coming from one of her kids video games. These are smoke detectors which are hard wired to the electric system but they still have a battery back-up. So, as the responsible landlord, I ran to the store for some 9V batteries and bought 8 of them for $24 (ouch).

While at the hardware store, I heard the clerks talking about a hot water heater shower head that some customers had brought in. They had purchased it for $20 in Mexico (it was Italian made) and were buying electrical tape and an extension cord. I guess they are pretty common there. I am always interested in new ways to provide the basic comforts of life so I asked them about it and they let me look at it. All of the clerks were very leery of it saying it looked dangerous with the wires so close to the water supply. Later when I went home I looked it up on the internet and found this article about one man's experience with them. Sounds like they can be "shocking" sometimes.

I considered this self-heating shower head as an option if I add a bathroom in my mobile home but then I decided that the $200 point of use heater from Home depot would be more practical since I want hot water for a shower, and 2 sinks. Plus, I can just plug in the point of use heater and won't have to mess with any wiring or grounding issues. I still think the shower head is an interesting idea though. I love learning how other people tackle the same problems in other countries and come up with different ideas.

Anyway, after delivering the batteries, I was leaving my rental house and the neighbor asked me if I had any more houses for rent. That got me thinking about the house that is for sale two doors down. It is selling for the very low price of $89k. If I had the money it would be very tempting. As I drove home I was trying to think up ways to scrounge 30% for a down payment as is typically required for investment property. In reality, I don't like being a landlord because it is expensive and stressful at times. I certainly don't need another rental house. I looked the house up on the web and it said it was under contract so, whew, I can stop thinking about raiding my 401k or taking a home equity loan to buy another rental house. I want less stress in my life, not more!


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

The wires actually heat the shower head pipe to heat the water? Interesting.

Things like a good deal on a rental house are definitely tempting. My biggest thing agains being a landlord is that I am not sure I want to stay in this area long term. Landlord is one thing. Long distance landlord is another.

Daizy said...

It's not the pipe, it's actually in the shower head. The woman in the store had just the head with 2 wires sticking out. I bet a lot of people get shocked.

I wouldn't mind turning my house over to a rental agency some day. It costs a lot but sometimes I think it would be worth it to not have the stress.

Dottie said...

When we moved out of our house over a year ago ( it was paid off) into a fixer upper in the country, well as country as you can get in Florida we decided to rent it since it was such a horrible market to sell in. We used a rental agency ( Century21)and I believe it is worth every penny we pay. I have not had to speak or do anything to the rental since the day the tenents moved in except check my account every month to see the rent direct deposited. I really did not want to be a landlord, so this is working out very well for me.

Andy Hough said...

I've taken quite a few electric showers while living and traveling in Central America. They are safe if they are properly grounded which they often are not. It is best to not touch anything metal while taking your shower. I made the mistake of touching the shower pipe once and got an shock. It wasn't painful just an electric tingle going through my body.

Lizzie @ her homeworld said...

We have an electric shower but this doesnt sounds like at all the same thing to me. I worry enough about ours and they cost about £350 each. Some things are just scary when you economise.

Wouldnt solar heating be the way to go? We dont have anything else but solar at the Crete house and its enough for showers for all, even through the winter. Running costs are non existent and set up costs were not actually too bad either (and no chance of being electricuted so even better).

Daizy said...

Dottie, a good agency is a great help. I have known people who have had to fire their management companies. They got bad tenants and a bad manager. Bad luck all around.

Daizy said...

Hi Andy, thanks for the first hand experience. Are whole house water heaters really expensive? Do they boil water for the dishes or just not bother? Does the water get hot or just warm?

Daizy said...

Lizzie, what do you get for 350 pounds??? Is that a big water heater? I definitely want to do some sort of solar water heating. It might just be a coil of black hose on the roof. What kind of solar system do you have in Crete?

Andy Hough said...

Daizy - The shower head heaters are much cheaper than a regular water heater. You can get one for about $10-$20 bucks. They are less efficient but since you are only heating water while you are actually taking a shower they are still much cheaper.

They don't bother heating water for dishes or laundry.

The water can get extremely hot. You regulate the temperature by adjusting the amount of water. Less water equals hotter water.

I think Lizzie is referring to a different type of electric shower that is more common in Europe. The water is heated in a small tank in the shower rather than by an element in the shower head.