Airstream Update: An Unfortunate Little Incident

The current state of the bathroom.

The current state of the bathroom.

When George went to turn on the hot water heater Friday morning, he discovered that the flooring underneath the heater was wet. Not good. I went on my merry way to work, hoping it was just a little leak. But during the course of the evening, I received more and more alarming text messages from him. This one pretty much said it all: “Found the source of the leak. Tell you about it when you get home.” He was preparing me for the worst.

And I came home to less than ideal news. George found the source of the leak. It was our hot water heater, as we had feared. The most expensive thing in the Airstream to replace. The heater runs on both electricity and gas so it isn’t as cheap as standard hot water heaters. He also had to tear up our bathroom floor because water had seeped under the floorboards and managed to warp the floor.

If something like this had happened two years ago, I would have flipped out. But living in the Airstream has some advantages. It’s allowed me to save enough for an emergency fund and replacing our floor won’t be nearly as expensive as replacing a floor in a home. Our bathroom is tiny. The hot water heater set us back about $600 bucks and I’m bummed about it, but it isn’t nearly as tragic as it could be. The hot water heater was original and we got almost a year of use out of it before it kicked the bucket.

We’ll have hot water again soon and we’ll make the money back. Living in the Airstream and having this adventure has taught me to be more resourceful and resilient than I’ve ever been. We’re lucky to have caught the leak fairly early and we’re lucky to have a home.

love and resilience,


13 thoughts on “Airstream Update: An Unfortunate Little Incident

  1. Pingback: 1978 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht Remodel | a small life

  2. Carol

    Just a suggestion (and you may already do this) but clean out the hot water heater at least once a year to remove all the sediment that settles in the bottom. You can get a water blaster (as I call it) for about $7.00 and it’s well worth it. We also use it to clean out the black tank.

    Our airstream is going to the shop next weekend for the first time to have a fan vent replaced. I started to replace it myself but it’s beyond my capabilities. It’ll probably cost between $200 – $300. 🙁

    1. melanie Post author

      Yes, I definitely do that, but unfortunately it was just time. The hot water heater was original, so 36 years old. I think that’s a pretty good run!

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  5. Cathryn

    Glad i found your site! Last year i procured a 1971 25 ft airstream to live alone in. Wow. Lots of work. Had the same idea on the front bed. Bathroom is presently being fixed and is a small nightmare; however, looking forward to it being done. I’m going to use a composting toilet however. Your posting really encouraged my heart to keep going. Thanks! xCathryn

  6. Spencer in Austin

    Melanie! I really love your website and Instagram. I live in a 1979 sovereign 31′ and would read your site everyday leading up to purchasing it back in on Sept 1 for motivation lol. I do have a question bc my hot water heater is having issues. Maybe it is bc I live next to a semi busy road and it is constantly being blown out by cars driving by…. but my pilot light keeps going out and I have to light it everyday about an hour or so before I take my shower at night. Would you say it is damaging/creating more ware and tear on it by having to do this and that I appear to be on my way to a new one bc this one is malfunctioning? Friends have suggested covered the grates on the flap that coveres the light on the outside… I am also apprehensive about cleaning it out and all/breaking something in the process haha.
    Thanks ma’am!

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