One night, Linda was taking a shower when the water suddenly ran cold. She yelled for me to check the propane water heater located in a utility closet next to the kitchen. As I approached the closet, I noticed a steady stream of water coming out from under the door. I’m not a plumber by any means, but I deduced this might be the problem.
When I opened the closet, water was pouring out of the bottom of the water heater. I turned off both the water and the propane before yelling, “I found the problem and it looks very expensive.”
Linda sent some text messages out to friends on Whatsapp and it wasn’t long before we had a recommendation for a repairman and an appointment.
The repairman promised to show up at 1 PM, but to tell you the truth, we were a little surprised to hear the knock at the door at precisely 1 PM. Over the last two years, we have become pretty accustomed to businesses working on “Mexico time”, which is a nice way to say that people are often late.
The repairman took the unit apart and discovered that the internal mechanism was clogged with minerals and sediment. This caused pressure to build up inside the unit to the point that one of the internal pipes ruptured. Looking back, the failure may have been the result of our hands-off approach to performing routine maintenance. Apparently, the popular advice of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to water heaters.
The repairman said that he couldn’t repair it and that we needed to buy another unit. In case you were wondering, he doesn’t sell water heaters so his assessment of the unit wasn’t a clever ruse to get us to buy one.
This is the part of the story that makes it worth telling. When I asked the repairman how much we owed him for the house call, he responded in Spanish, “Nothing because I didn’t fix it.”
That’s something you’re unlikely to hear from anyone making a house call in the States.
We felt that he had earned something and tried to give him money. He politely declined to take it; however, he said that he would be happy to install the new unit when we bought it and that we could pay him for that.
Getting the water heater took about a week because we couldn’t find anything locally that we wanted. We were working with a small space and we wanted something roughly the same size. We ended up buying a unit directly from a manufacturer and having it sent to us. The new water heater cost around $226 USD — not too bad.
As promised, we called out the same repairman and he installed it. He did a meticulous job and carefully checked all gas and water fittings for possible leaks.
So, how much did he charge us for his second house call? Only $300 pesos, or around $15.38 USD. He did such a great job that we included a good tip.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Since moving to Mexico, we’ve had several things repaired, built and/or painted. Every time, the person has been very professional and has never tried to overcharge us. In fact, this is the second time that someone has refused to take money because they felt that they did not earn it. Positive experiences like this one serve as a constant reminder of the strong work ethic and moral compass of the Mexican people.