KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For the last four months, a Knoxville senior has been trying to get repairmen to plug the leak in her new water heater.

After signing up for TVA’s EnergyRight program to help make her home more efficient, a new heat pump and windows were installed in mid-May, but the water heater never stopped leaking. Since then, Shirley has laid paper towels down to absorb the water that continues to leak.

“The pipes just came off of it and the water was just going everywhere,” said Shirley.

Last spring, she signed up for the program. It finds out how your home uses or loses energy. An inspector conducts what is called an energy audit of your home and makes recommendations for changes. If you agree, you then sign up with a licensed and insured contractor who does the work. A TVA-approved contractor installed the new heat pump for Shirley.

“When the guy started to leave I asked him, what about all of this water on the floor? I was sitting in there on the walker. He just looked at me and said, it will dry,” said Shirley.

The water was not only in the bathroom where the pump was installed but it went into her bedroom, as well. There was also water coming out from underneath her refrigerator.

“The carpet was wet from about my bed into the dining room a little way,” said Shirley. “I was just sitting here. I couldn’t get up and do anything, Don, because I’m not able to do anything. But when they told me it would dry, they just walked out and left me.”

On her calendar, Shirley marked down May 12 and 13. Those were the days the contractor installed the windows, heat pump and water heater.

Finally, on May 23, a repairman returned to check on the water heater. It’s been leaking ever since. A few weeks ago, she hired an environmental company to check for mold in her house. The report found elevated moisture in the bathroom, the master bedroom, the kitchen and the laundry room.

She keeps fans in her bedroom to move the air due to the smell of mold and mildew. Shirley took pictures of the damage to her home.

“I want my house fixed. It’s all I’ve got and I want it fixed. I’m 77 years old, I’m going to live here until I die but I’m going to have my house fixed,” said Shirley.

On Monday, WATE contacted the TVA about the issue. On Tuesday, the TVA-approved contractor returned to Shirley’s home. Two people checked the water heater and supposedly fixed it. The TVA also shared the following statement with WATE.

Home Uplift is an excellent program, and customer satisfaction remains our highest priority. TVA representatives have met with [Shirley], and we are working directly with her to resolve her concerns.

TVA is a brand you can trust. Since 2018, TVA has provided free upgrades to over 4,000 homes across seven states, saving owners an average of 25% on their power bills. Situations like this are very rare, and we always do our best to make it right. Moving forward, we are reviewing our processes to ensure something like this does not happen again. 

Shirley says she going to keep a keen eye on it for any future leaks. She also wonders what will be done about the carpet in her bedroom that she says was soaked by nearly 400 gallons of water that poured out of the water heater.