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Revenge of the Claw foot Tub

June 21, 2013
I realized too late that you don’t buy old houses—old houses buy you. And “charm” is spelled: $$$$$. When we purchased our hundred year old house in Northwest Portland, it came with an enormous claw foot tub. Mrs. Chatterbox said it was charming and worth the cost of restoring. I wasn’t convinced, but the tub must have weighed as much as a Sherman tank and having someone come to our house and restore it seemed preferable to lugging it down the stairs.


So we paid to have the porcelain redone and the claws refinished. I must admit it did look charming when finished, even though we could have installed a new Jacuzzi tub for less money.

Mrs. C. insisted that I take the first bath.

I turned on the faucet, sipped the glass of Chablis she brought me and waited for the tub to fill. The water wasn’t rising very quickly, and it still wasn’t very high by the time I drained my wine glass. I called for a refill. After two glasses, the water was still only a few inches high. It didn’t matter; I had a delightful buzz going and climbed into my newly restored claw foot tub.

The water barely covered my toes. I turned the faucet to maximum and settled back for the hot water to reach a level I could enjoy.

I waited.

And waited.

By the time the water reached my privates it was already turning cold. I thought about giving up and climbing out but I’d spent a small fortune and was determined to finish at least one bath in the darn thing.

The water finally reached a suitable level, but it was now icy cold. Mrs. C. poked her head into the bathroom to say, “There’s no more hot water in the kitchen.”

I wasn’t surprised. “We need to budget for a bigger water heater.”

“Would you like another glass of wine?”

“No, but a hot cup of cocoa would be nice.”

By the time she returned with it, I was immersed and shivering in frigid water. My nipples were hard as glass cutters and it would have taken a melon baller to scoop out my testicles. Worst of all, my fingers and toes had curled into claws.

I’d discovered the real reason they called it a claw foot tub!





Ha! And the line, "you don’t buy old houses—old houses buy you," is spot on truth.
By: Shelly on June 21, 2013
We had a bathtub just like that! Actually, our first house was an old fixer-upper. All houses that followed were old but mint (perfect) or brand new. Once was enough. (Although the cut glass window above the bathtub was quite dramatic.)
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 21, 2013
Some charming old things are worth having around. A whole house isn't. (Nor is a not so old house that wasn't built correctly, but that's another story.)
By: mimi on June 21, 2013
Sounds like a great sized bath but useless if it isn't hot enough. I love a HOT bath, that would have been a nightmare for me, cold water and my blood boiling, perfect balance I guess!
By: John on June 21, 2013
I'd have definitely gone with a Jacuzzi tub. The apartment I just moved to the water for the tub comes out so slowly it would probably take a year to fill it.
By: PT Dilloway on June 21, 2013
So did a bigger hot water heater do the trick? I Had a 100+, there is a down side.
By: Cranky Old Man on June 21, 2013
OMG sipping hot chocolate while reading your blog this morning was a challenge- I was laughing too hard ! Great read! I think you needed one of those on demand water heaters that produce unlimited amounts of hot water! Cheers and have a great day!
By: on June 21, 2013
whoops I pushed "reply" without saying who I was...still laughing!
By: Kathe W. on June 21, 2013
oh, thanks for the laughs! and very vivid descriptions!
By: TexWisGirl on June 21, 2013
As a real estate agent I have a love for old houses but recognize that many are beautiful money pits. What was the deal with how slow the tub filled? Was it the hot water heater or something with the water pressure? Did you get it corrected or did you get used to cold baths?
By: Cheryl P. on June 21, 2013
This reminds me of the hilarious movie "The Money Pit" starring Tom Hanks & Shelley Long. YOU MUST WATCH IT--YOU'LL LOVE IT!!
By: fishducky on June 21, 2013
Bwahahahahahahahaha. I'm guessing that was the first and only bath you took in that tub. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on June 21, 2013
So? Did you get another hot water heater? Did you ever take another bath in that tub?
By: The Broad on June 21, 2013
LOL. I hear ya. I've been looking at houses. I like the older ones but boy do they seem to be a money sink. But with only a million dollars they could be faboulous!
By: Michael Offutt on June 21, 2013
So that tub was a major cause of shrinkage in more ways than one. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 21, 2013
We had a claw-foot tub when I was growing up. It was charming. Charming until Dad decided to swathe it in green shag carpet. We thought it was the most dreadful thing we had ever seen. Until he did the same to the toilet.
By: Al Penwasser on June 21, 2013
Oh no! What an awful experience. I love claw-footed tubs. In my flat I have a stupid, little plastic thing that calls itself a tub, but the bathroom is too small for a real one. I wish I'd let my soaking-in-bubble-bath dreams go and just gotten a shower stall. :P
By: Lexa Cain on June 21, 2013
So now you just need to install a larger hot water tank and you're all set. Maybe a keg of wine to go with that.
By: Hilary on June 21, 2013
Good story about a bad bath, Stephen. That one's going in the book, right?
By: Catalyst/Bruce on June 21, 2013
You are very funny, sir. My husband talked me into a very large jacuzzi for our master bath in our newly built...and most likely last house. It is the size of a small closet and drains the water heater very nicely, thank you. He wanted it so that we could bathe together...Both over 60 and one pushing 70...what in the hell was he thinking?
By: Tabor on June 21, 2013
...Tabor...hahaha! I love charming old houses. That's what our 1st one was. It was So. Much. Work. I hope you solved your problem with a new water heater & didn't ditch the cool old tub. And then had a 3rd glass of wine.
By: Kerry on June 21, 2013
images of hard nipples burnt into my retinas haha
By: Sam Edge on June 21, 2013
ha very funny images there. i hope it all worked out. :)
By: Fran on June 21, 2013
I rented a house for a summer semester of college, and it had a clawfoot tub. You're right. They hold a tremendous amount of water. Lucky for me, I was not concerned about hot water, since it was southern Missouri with no air conditioning.
By: Val on June 21, 2013
They are nice looking tubs, had no idea they held so much water though. Funny story! :)
By: Hey Monkey Butt on June 21, 2013
I had tears running down my face reading your story. I'm not a big fan of tubs, claw foot or otherwise. We have a huge tub in our bathroom. It has never, ever once been used in the 5 1/2 years we have lived here.
By: Pixel Peeper on June 21, 2013
You had me going right to the end. I was sucked in. Nice post.
By: Red on June 21, 2013
Perhaps a new tub rather than a larger hot water system. Funny story, picked up your blog from As the crackerhead crumbles. You have a great blog here.
By: Karen on June 21, 2013
*snort* Nipples as hard as glass cutters? *snort* Why is it we rejoice in the suffering of others? tee hee
By: quirkyloon on June 21, 2013
Our house here in the UK is over 100 years old and you are right, all we do is spend all our hard earned cash on renovations and repairs. Actually, mainly repairs. I'm trying not to picture your balls and nipples, as I'm about to eat my dinner soon. :D
By: LL COOL JOE on June 22, 2013
You have such a way with words and spin a wonderful yarn!
By: Eva Gallant on June 22, 2013
Our claw foot musn't have been as big, at least according to my nipples.
By: AC on June 22, 2013
LOL! I remember the big clawfoot bathtub at my grandparents. They used to fill it with hot water and stick all three of us little kids in there at once--which helped raise the water level--LOL! I lived in a house many years later with a red clawfoot tub--loved it. But you need a big water heater, for sure!! ;)
By: Rita McGregor on June 22, 2013
Don't tell me about old houses, or I will start telling you and then I will never stop. We once lived in a 1930s house with a fabulous mother of pearl art deco bath, I mean it had mother of pearl all round it - the bath itself was porcelain thank God. (blue porcelain, since you ask). It was truly huge and you could lie in it and lower your head under the water if you wished. It was in every way totally stunning and I tried but never quite succeeded in thinking about how beautiful it was while I was freezing in it because the lousy 1930s hot water system in the house had no chance whatever of making enough hot water to fill it. .
By: Jenny Woolf on June 22, 2013
we had a claw footed tub at our former house. i loved it. we repainted the outside of it ourselves and never had trouble filling it. just don't ask abotu when we wanted to replace the toilet and the headache THAT was!
By: lime on June 22, 2013
Waiting.....ANXIOUSLY..... ;)
By: Scott Park on June 22, 2013
Very funny. I too live in a house that is almost 100 years old, but my clawfoot tub is very short. Just my size. Sounds like you have a faucet and hot water heater problem.
By: Charlotte on June 22, 2013
A rite of passage to have endured such agony. Did you receive a tribal name? If not, I'd suggest you hold a draw for the best 'tribal name". For example 'Chubby Blueballs'.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 22, 2013
Our 1929 house in San Diego was like that. Here I put in a tankless heater so we can take long showers, I'e not been in the tub in ten years. But this weekend a cold bath might be more called for.
By: joeinvegas on June 28, 2013

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