The new water heater is in. However there is no hot water to speak of.
There is some floor damage to be considered; buckling oak flooring is crying out to be replaced, but once we start that process in the hall, we'd probably want to continue through the rest of the house, which means, of course, over-ending everything, and essentially moving out for who knows how long? In which case, hmmm...
Meanwhile, the absence of any hot water flow is due, as suspected, to the corrosion of the galvanized pipes that were put in when the house was built. When the water heater was changed out, the corrosion which had been kept from completely closing the pipes -- so that there was a minimal but serviceable flow before -- apparently felt free to constrict any future flow to the barest trickle.
So the plumber said, "We can replace your pipes for $10,000." Sticker shock. Doesn't he know house values have fallen by 30%?!! Is he mad?!! But checking around, that's the going rate for repiping one of the houses in this neighborhood, hasn't changed much for years. Most of the houses have already been done, this being one of the few remaining holdouts. It takes two days, the lath and plaster walls have to be opened up, much banging and carrying on trying to winch out the old piping, and then trying to fix all the holes and other damage, and hoping nothing leaks. Oh yes, they did it to the house next door a few months ago getting it ready for sale. It was a trial for the guys who did it. They had to come back several times to re-fix some of the fixes. As it was, the house sold for $40,000 less than the original asking price, in only six months, which the realtor thought was good, given the down market and all.
What to do?
Well, for now we boil water on the stove and contemplate our increasingly restricted options.