Wednesday 30 August 2006

cool, cool water....

At first I thought there was a fly trapped in the rubbish bag next to the back door. Further investigation revealed that the strange hissing, buzzing noise was in fact coming from the pipes. Or perhaps more accurately, the noise was coming from the tiny hole in the water main and was being caused by water under pressure being forced out.


Making the pub quiz began to look optimistic and I began to hunt around for the house insurance details.

A short conversation ensued:

"Is the leak coming from within the boundaries of your property or from the water main?"
"Well, it's coming from the water main below our stopcock, but it is inside the property. In fact, it's in my kitchen."
"Was it damaged accidentally?"
"No. It just started to leak"
"Then it's not covered. You need to talk to the Water Board."

Thinking salty thoughts about the point of home and contents insurance if it won't cover damage to said home and contents, I picked up the phone to the 24 hour helpline at Severn-Trent Water.

"Is the leak coming from the water main outside your property?"
"No. It's coming from the water main where it comes into my kitchen"
"I'm afraid our responsibility stops when the pipe enters the boundary to your property. I can help you find a 24 hour plumber though"

A call back to the insurance company and it turns out that actually they *are* liable for any water damage to our property, so they are prepared to get an emergency plumber out for us. Clearly they didn't feel the need to tell us about that during the first call. Perhaps they didn't think it was pertinent.

We arrange to meet the plumber (he calls us when he arrives and we leave the pub quiz to let him in). He takes one look at the pipe:

"I know it sounds funny, but I just need to get my hammer"
He then proceeds to bash the bit of lead piping (our house is over 100 years old, so although most of the piping is now made of copper or plastic, there is the odd bit here and there that are still made of lead). Apparently this can stop most leaks.

The water turns from a small trickle to a modest gush, but some more hammering takes us back to where we were originally. The plumber promises to come back in the morning to fix the leak properly by replacing the bit of piping.

The next morning and the leak has got slightly worse. I go to work knowing that C. needs to leave to catch a flight at 11am. I cancel a few meetings and head home to allow C. to scoot off to the airport. I find her in a right state. The plumber has been unable to stop the leak and has left her on her hands and knees constantly changing towels in a desperate attempt to stop the kitchen from flooding. She nearly forgets her passport, but leaves on time. I start to wring out some towels when the plumber turns up again.

"We can't turn off the water main so we're going to try to staunch the flow with this jubilee clip"

He tries, and partially succeeds. Now I have to wait for the man from Severn-Trent to turn up and switch off the water supply. I wait about 30 minutes and then he arrives and begins to fiddle with the piping underneath the pavement outside our house.

"I can't switch the valve off. I think I'll need to request an emergency repair"
"How long will that take?"
"Well, it won't be today"

I now have visions of spending every 10 minutes for the next 24 hours changing towels and mopping up water underneath a leaking pipe. Luckily, after much fiddling, he is able to turn it off and the leak stops.

I'm currently sat in my kitchen waiting for the plumber to turn up and dig up some of my kitchen tiling to replace the defective piping.

Oh, apparently his van has broken down in Mansfield and he's not going to be able to get here until 6pm.

It's turning out to be one of those days....

(and a big hello to the friendly face of the Bloglines plumber above! Is it me or is that Harold Bishop moonlighting?)


Update -> 00:55am

Well, the water has been off, the kitchen floor drilled and a new piece of pipe put in. Sadly, when the water was turned back on, there was still a small leak. Nothing catastrophic, but still something that needs sorting.

I think I want to scream. I think my plumber wants to scream too.

Same again tomorrow then.

It's good this, innit?

And I've got a preliminary session with the hypnotherapist tomorrow.....


Update -> 10:06am

I think he's cracked it!

Some horrible gunky stuff, a bit of tightening and some windy, wrappy stuff appears to have stopped the dripping. Finally. Touch wood.



  1. Oh, man, I sympathise. I had a water damage incident a couple of years back (in actual fact, the incident was my upstairs neighbour's, however it was my roof that came down) and none of it was pretty.

    I often think I should have learned a "trade" rather than going to university etc. Plumbers are virtually impossible to get hold of, and generally charge obscene amounts for their services. That said, I'm not sure dungarees are ever going to be a good look.

  2. I can accept that things will break, and obviously we have to get someone in to fix them. It should be easy. What really annoys me it the lack of commitment to getting the job done within a certain time, or even arriving when they're meant to.

    How many times have we all had to wait the whole day for someone who gave a very vague time of arrival, and thus having to sometimes take a days 'holiday' to sit on one's arse waiting for the doorball.

    hrrmmfff. rant over

  3. This brings to mind my parents' Xmas sewage fiasco. When I arrived at their house for Xmas, I found that we were having to avoid using too much water as the sewer was backing up. The plumber who came out told us it was most likely a break in the line and he couldn't fix it...and since it was the day before Xmas eve, no one would be able to fix it until after the holiday.

    After the holiday (spent without showers and only flushing the toilet when absolutely necessary), the next plumber came out and was able to fix it quite easily.

    However, it turns out the first plumber was right. Within a month, my parents had to have the whole front yard dug up to get to the break in the line and have it repaired. Not a pretty sight during winter in Minnesota, I'm told.

    I do hope your troubles are more easily resolved.

  4. me too spins, me too.

    It's now 21:53, my kitchen floor has been partially dug up and the dodgy piece of piping replaced. Has the fix worked? Don't know. I'm waiting for the water board to deign to come out and switch me back on again.

    Brilliant, eh?

    Apparently if I say I have kids, they'll come out faster... so my plumber tells me. He says he tells everyone to say that. Which is probably the reason I'm waiting!


  5. Might i point you in the direction of Flanders and Swann's 'The Gas Man Cometh'.

    If you can't find it, let me know and I'll email it to you. It's worth it, even if I have to record it off the vinyl!

  6. What a monumnetal pain in the ass!

    Are the insurance people going to pay to get your kitchen floor relaid? Can you get a complete redecoration out of them?

  7. How frustrating! On another note, good luck at the hypnotherapist's tomorrow. :0)

  8. I was just about to say that. Hope the hypno goes well!