Uh oh – NO hot water! What to do in Tokyo?

I want to talk about the fact I don’t have hot water this morning. But first a bit of background. [Later note: if you want to make a long story short, don’t forget to reset the main circuit breaker as part of the troubleshooting, if you can’t figure out the specific one!]

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I rent a “1K” apartment in Tokyo. Particularly, it’s from a landlord and agent that purports to be expat friendly, but what I’ve found is it’s almost exclusively a matter of paying more and getting less.

It has mostly been a matter of “sho ga nai” (“there’s nothing a person can do”), because it’s this strange lease that the rental company says is a “monthly mansion”-style “loan for use”, even though, by a fair reading of the law, I have lease rights in the apartment.

I learned recently that the lower floor apartments are rented out over a period of time to some gaikokujin talent or modeling agency around the western Tokyo area—long term and for a flat rate. And if they happen to have the talent in town, they can stick them in those units.

I have to wonder what that contract looks like, but I bet they aren’t paying more than 100,000 yen a month to keep a room available, and probably no more than 50,000 yen. So what exactly is the difference between “holding a room to be available” month-by-month, and actually occupying the room? Many people—wealthier people—rent apartments in different locations that they don’t happen to use on a constant basis.

This is a building where everyone seems to have a different deal going, in a way that would probably get them in a legal mess if they were doing this back in New Jersey or New York.

I wonder what the real, fair-market price is, or is close to.

Anyway, yesterday and this morning I don’t have hot water coming in to the unit. I checked the gas (I do have that), and of course I have electricity because you’re seeing I’ve got this on the net.

But the little Noritz hot water heater unit outside my door is probably where the problem lies. This is an “on demand” water heater that heats the water as it comes up from the ground and the Tokyo water works.

There is no pilot light.

I’ve called and e-mailed the rental agent, but I have a strong feeling I am going to be taking at least one more cold shower.

Lord knows, the equipment might be as old as the building, which I suspect was built in the Japan’s Bubble Era (1987-89), when many land speculators were putting up cheap units and figuring they could pack them with tenants and become rich. So it might be a 20-year-old unit.

I noticed all the other units have one from Tokyo Gas—not a private label specifically. Given the track record, this makes me particularly suspicious about the one outside, even though it worked reliably for the last two years.

Well, I have to get the courage up for another cold shower until I figure out how to resolve this latest hurdle in Tokyo apartment living.

(The irony that the thing went out on a weekend . . . )

[Update: OUCH!! That’s two cold showers in a row. A few more, and I’ll be ready for the Marines (except I’m too old,
and getting up early, and blood, are issues . . .)

A friend recommended today that I finally try out sentos (public baths) here. In Saitama, they are just 500 yen. But I think it would be too obvious for a gaikokujin to be there, that the people would figure that he doesn’t have a shower or something is wrong with it.]

[Update #2: Here’s what. It turns out that if the fuse has blown for one reason or another, the on-demand water heater obviously isn’t taking power from your electricity. So, like I included above, you might simply have a problem in the circuit breaker. And it turns out that’s exactly what had happened sometime early in the weekend. So you might check to see if your gas is good. (I did.) You might also check to see if your electric is running. (I did.) You might even check to see if the gas seems to be available to the unit (I tried to do, even though there’s no pilot light.) But you must also check that the fuse isn’t blown. (By shutting down the fuse box in the apartment, waiting a moment, and starting it up again.) I wish I had thought of that two showers ago . . .

So the problem is solved. 🙂 ]

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One comment

  1. Sorina · December 29, 2012

    Thank you very much for the advice! We had the same problem and thanks to your posting we managed to resolve it and avoid any cold showers in the middle of winter 🙂

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