Bottled Heat

Day 017 – August 8, 2011

Today’s installment of Sin Polaris offers the exciting conclusion of the drama of the lack of hot water in our house.

Previously in this blog space, our intrepid hero learned that there was no hot water for the children’s bathroom only to learn later that the labels on the faucets had been switched.

Or so he thought.

We pick up our story with our protagonist….

Okay, I’m sorry. Let me drop out of third-person mode and continue on.

Yesterday, we discovered that there was no absolutely no hot water anywhere to be had in the house. My lovely wife and I inspected the hot water heater outside our home and observed that the pilot light was out. Being the handy person that she is, and being able to read the directions on the heater that were in Spanish, we attempted to re-light the pilot.

After three failed attempts, we gave up the ghost and resigned ourselves to a frosty shower the next morning.

On this Monday, my lovely wife called the folks responsible for maintaining our house and complained about our faulty water heater.

Just like last time, the maintenance worker arrived exactly on time and I dutifully took him over to our non-working device. He dialed a few dials and pressed a few knobs. He repeated the same steps we had taken the previous night and was also unable to re-ignite the pilot light.

Then he asked when was the last time I refilled the gas bottles.


The gentleman pointed a few feet over from the water heater and gestured to two large metal bottles that were up against a wall. Like these…

Natural gas cannisters

Quiet empty metallic sentinels

You know, I had been wondered for seventeen days what those canisters were for and now I had my answer.

I have now come across yet another difference between where I live now and where I used to live. Where I’m from – northern Virgina (and this may be the case for 99.9% of the United States, but I’m no expert on utilities…except when comes to buying Water Works in Monopoly, which you should always do…dang it, I’ve digressed again.) – natural gas is piped into houses via…uh, pipes. There is nothing to fill or refill as the gas is always there for you as long as you pay your bill.

Not here in this house. Here, the natural gas that is used to heat our water is brought to our house in 45-kilogram capacity canisters and history will show us that we will go through one of them, on an average, every three weeks.

Every 21 days or so, the call is made to the gas people to come bring us another balon of gas and it’s strictly a cash on delivery operation.

Problem solved…mystery de-mystified…it’s hot water all around…and, indeed, life’s a gas.


About sinpolaris

sinpolaris is the psuedonym of a guy who likes to write.

Posted on January 9, 2012, in Difference, Peru and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Haha…well, now you know! Do you get a separate canister for you stove/oven or are they hooked up to those canisters as well? Piped gas is still a new concept here in Peru, although new buildings (as far as I am aware, just apartment high rises…not sure about stand alone homes) are coming equipped with piped gas. I don’t think you would be able to find that outside of Lima, though.

    Part of the problem is that there is (wasn’t) any underground piping infrastructure developed for these things. So everyone gets gas cans. The convenient thing is that it is available 24hours a day; you never know when you are going to run out!

    It’s all part of the charm, no? 🙂

  2. One of the things I still cannot get used to out here in Northern New England is how houses are overwhelmingly fueled by heating oil…which is essentially diesel gasoline. A truck comes by and pumps fuel through a pipe into a tank in our basement. I hate this.

    Also, our gas stove is fueled by an LPG tank outside just on the other side of the wall.

    This is also pretty common.

    At least we don’t need our own windmill for the electricity.

    • When our kids were younger, we used to read them a story for bedtime called “Harry the Dirty Dog”. One of the illustrations of that tale has a coal truck coming to deliver its payload of fuel to a house. I always thought that picture showed how old that story was (1956), but I guess from where you and I both sit, that personal delivery of energy still occurs.

  1. Pingback: August 31, 2012: La Republica « Periodically, Peru

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