Did Handy Randy Have a Maintenance Fail?

Time is flying by in Cascade!  We have been here for six weeks and move to the west side in less than two.   We are pleased and surprised at how social we have been.  

We continue to enjoy time with Kent and Pam at their cabin and were glad that friends Darrell and Cindy came to camp nearby.  I met Sally, one of my former principals, for lunch in McCall and Randy started his golf league with former co-worker Rodger.

We were happy that family members from Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Boise joined us for a family camping reunion.   Thanks to my mom, my aunt and cousins for making the longer than usual trek to Cascade.


Our grandson experienced fishing for the first time.  He caught four fish in about 10 minutes.  It will never be that easy again! 


Connie and Michael, cousins from Portland, came through for an afternoon visit.

fullsizeoutput_4a3cRandy’s former co-worker Bryan and family came from Boise to enjoy the lake for a few days.  We joined them at our “go to” place, the Lake Front restaurant at the Cascade golf course, within walking distance of our campsite.


My former teaching partner Connie and her husband camped nearby for a few days.  Connie and I worked very closely together for 9 years across two schools and two principals.  We knew each other’s hopes, dreams and foibles quite well.  It was nice to catch up.

And then there are our jobs… I am the substitute camp host at Ridgeview when the regular host is gone.  Mostly that is a matter of checking in campers and cleaning sites. It also involves redirecting campers who get here by mistake because their GPS doesn’t know Lake Cascade State Park has 11 different campgrounds.

Occasionally I have to give rule reminders.  When I let a man know that drones weren’t allowed in the park he told me that his drone wasn’t in the park, it was over the lake.   The life of a camp host….

Randy has done a huge variety of maintenance activities for the park.  He has worked on docks, fences, hoses, signs and bikes.  He has painted, mowed, trimmed and hauled yard waste.   I’m sure if he were here, he could name many other tasks he has done.

He has had home maintenance to do too.   He discovered our water heater had rusted through and needed to be replaced.   We identified three options – the first was to work through the extended warranty and have our water heater replaced with an identical unit.  That would cost roughly $100 in deductible fees, probably two trips to Boise with the trailer, and significant delay.  We never considered that option seriously.   

Option 2 was to order the same Suburban 12 gallon water heater from Amazon for about $600 and Randy complete the install.


Option 3 was to order a tankless water heater for $550.   Randy liked this option because it would lighten the load by about 100 pounds when we travel.   After talking through the pros and cons, we decided on the tankless water heater.  Although it said professional installation was recommended,  Handy Randy is just as good (or better) and we weren’t worried.  Amazon Prime delivered it in two days and Randy went to work.   


He removed the old unit and could see how wet the area had become.


The new water heater is quite a bit smaller so Handy Randy had to build a brace.

 He verified it worked and finished the install.   Randy’s first hot shower was deemed a success.

That first shower was one of only a few fully successful uses of the tankless hot water heater.   We knew there would be a learning curve and I am TRYING to be patient but it has been frustrating.  

Our campground has high water pressure and if you use anything approaching maximum volume there is too much water going past the heat source to heat it adequately.  You have to find the sweet spot for pressure and temperature and waste water and time in the process.   It is impossible to get really hot water in the kitchen sink because that faucet automatically mixes hot and cold water.

I want to emphasize that this isn’t a fail on Handy Randy’s part.  He did lots of research, read lots of reviews and successfully installed the unit.  I agreed with the choice.


However,  I think it is entirely likely he will be buying me a new old technology water heater for my birthday in September.   It might even be an early birthday present!

About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Did Handy Randy Have a Maintenance Fail?

  1. Mark says:

    It seems like the tankless water heaters in RV’s are a hit-and-miss proposition. I’ve read of a few folks who have them and wouldn’t have anything else, but many find them finicky and difficult to get “just right”. So much seems to depend on flow, temperature of incoming water, etc. that making one work consistently well seems like it can be a tall order. Perhaps you’ll be able to get yours adjusted to your liking, but if not, it seemed worth a try!


    • Serene says:

      And every time you move to a different campground, the parameters change. We have full hook-ups now, but when we don’t we will fill up our gray tanks more quickly while we try to find that sweet spot use after use.

  2. Dave says:

    I’m sorry to hear about this. I, too would have thought this to be the best option. I’m wondering if oversizing the unit might overcome some of the problems…..

  3. Catie Ireland says:

    Poor Randy, how frustrating. Gord is an old plumber/gasfitter and had some ideas but for some reason his long notes to Randy did not go through.
    Every time I see pictures of your lifestyle I do get a ping of “ what a great lifestyle” and we love living it through your adventures. Thank you.

  4. This brings back fond (now that they’re distant) memories of replumbing my “RV,” the 10×55′ not-mobile home I lived in during my college days in Moscow. It all started with corrosion and a leaky valve on the water heater… My first “repair” was to cut a hole in the floor so the leak could drain. Further hilarity ensued, and with the help of the nice people at Powell Plumbing on Main St., I had a nice introduction to the art.

    A good “hot” shower is all about expectations. After quite a long period of time, and with the 2nd solar water heater I built from scratch, I still remember my first solar-powered session. It wasn’t cold, and that was perfect.

    • Serene says:

      Glad we could help you relive that! I should appreciate your comment about expectations. A mostly hot shower with mostly good water pressure should be good enough, yes?

      • fortboise says:

        Well, I’d be grumpy to go without a hot water heater now, but I managed for a couple of years back in my college days. Life was more of an open-ended adventure then. 🙂

  5. Teri McClelland says:

    That certainly is a full social calendar! It sounds like yall have landed in the perfect place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s