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The Money Pit - Heating, Water and Electrical

Updated on December 14, 2010

Christmas is Expensive!

I'm not sure what it is about this time of year and my house but there always seems to be something going wrong.  Well actually that's not really true - to some extent I do know why its this time of year for at least one of my current emergencies, but the previous one and and another have nothing to do with the season.

Sorry - I know that was a confusing sentence to read ... allow me to clarify.

My first emergency

We moved into our home in October of last year and while I knew we were getting a "fixer upper" there were certain area's of the home that I had not expected to be working on - at least not in the short term.

My first exposure to this was when I had a huge leak in my kitchen due to a problem with my shower pump. I relayed that story in my hub - The Money Pit - which is linked below also.

My 2nd Emergency

A common joke in many different languages is how many "X" does it take to change a lightbulb ... well in my case it takes an electrician!

When I went to change the lightbulb in my daughters room it seemed that regardless of whether or not the bulb was new or not, it just wouldn't work! I have mentioned previously I think that I am reasonably handy and while changing light fixtures is something I have done many times in the past this time I was completely stumped as it seemed that all the wiring was correct but it just was not working. So I decided to wait for a while until my Father came to town (big mistake) who is a self acknowledged expert at all things home related!

Well suffice it to say that when my Dad came to town - we screwed it up even more that you could possibly expect. We checked the wiring in my Daughter's room (everything was fine) so thought - let's check my Son's room ...he's got a dimmer switch too ... if it works there, it should work here. So off we went, undid the faceplate and checked all the wires ... hmmmm ... everything looks the same lets compare again ... back to my daughter's, nope, no go, still broke ... but hmmm, what's happened to the bathroom ... and the hallway ... .... AND ... the Master Bedroom??? Oh great, my wife is going to kill me! :(

Now not only don't we have light on in my Daughter's room, the hallway, the bathroom and the Master Bedroom we still don't know what the problem is.  My Dad (the hero) says he has to go now but I should let him know what the problem was ... for the future!

My Electrician - the Real Hero

Calling a "professional" is always a fearsome prospect.  Aside from the ridiculous costs involved that always make you feel that you selected the wrong field of work, when they find and fix something really obvious and easy, you just feel like a putz! However with this one we were stumped.  As much as I didn't want the expense, I couldn't live with a standing light in the hallway and dragging a torch into the bathroom just did not work!

So - local paper in hand I started calling around and found someone who could come out and take a look the next day.  After I explained the situation he popped the wall plates, looked at the wires, scratched his head a couple of times and made some funny noises then said - its in the loft.

OK, down came the ladder and up he went (he couldn't scamper as he was rather large, however for his size, quite sprightly!) ... in case you don't know what a loft is, think of an attic, except not as big and pitch black.  After some peering about he determined that the problem was the original occupants had dome some non-standard wiring and they didn't have a neutral wire in the circuit - not something that I could have fixed and fortunately for my marriage, not something that I caused! - he was able to rectify it fairly quickly and the best part ... he didn't charge me anything!!

Now this was not through only the goodness of his heart, but rather the way that he fixed it (for now) was by using the earth wire as a neutral in the final part of the circuit.  He will be back in January to do a proper job at which time it will cost me £100... however based on how the wiring looked and the problems that I had - it could have been a lot worse.

The 3rd Emergency

OK - now this is the only one that I could say has any bearing with regards to the season and weather in general. About 5 days ago two of our radiators stopped working - not a big deal I thought as I have a HomeCare plan with British Gas and they have to come out and fix it ... so picking up the phone I gave them a call. Being the honest and good citizen that I am I told them that 2 (out of 5) radiators in my home weren't working and could they please send someone out ... sure thing ... in two weeks time (just before Christmas!!!) ... wtf??!

Seems I wasn't a priority as there are a lot of other people without any heat whatsoever so they get first dibs. OK, I can understand that - bit of a pain that I've been paying a monthly fee to get an engineer but when I need one, I have to wait, but being winter and all, I understand.

A day after my call, my wife started to smell something - now she's got a nose for trouble does my wife, but when she says there is something there, there is something there ... problem is we couldn't find it so everything stayed the same.

Another two days pass, we still can't find whats smelling, but ... our floorboards in the family room and study are starting to warp ... something is going on, but what? I gave British Gas another call and explained the situation - this time they seemed to understand the urgency and I was now one of those priority customers! So 2 hours later I had an Engineer onsite (not too bad I have to say).

So, lets have a look at what the problem is shall we? Up comes 1 floorboard ... hmm, lots of steam, yep you have a leak, its not here though - its somewhere in your study ... many books thrown all over the place and furniture moved about ... one more floorboard cut - hmm, getting closer but still not at the right spot ... lets try over here ... Bingo!

Turns out whoever built the Conservatory (glass and brick extension) on our house decided to for whatever reason do a real crap job and put a tap in UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS for some bizarre reason. As one of the working radiators was in the conservatory, this was the "return" part of the system and like I said earlier, they decided that it needed a tap. Now a tap would make sense if perhaps there was another connection or something, but it just didn't make any sense really in the way it was setup. So we took off the tap, and put in a bit more of a normal connection and hurrah, problem solved! We had heat throughout the house again.

Have I mentioned yet that I hate the people who owned this place before me and whoever they used as a builder?  Sigh ... why is it always at Christmas?!


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    • My SciFi Life profile image

      My SciFi Life 7 years ago from London, UK

      Hi and thanks for the comment! Yeah I can't really complain as it was fixed ... I do have some warped floorboards that I'm hoping will gradually straighten out (doubt it) but the house is warmer now which is a plus ... I just hate the fact that its always around about Christmas time ... I'm just dreading what else I'm going to find over the coming years!!!

    • bcatgray profile image

      bcatgray 7 years ago from United States of America

      Hahaha! At least you have heating! Our heating system works fine. However, there is no insulation in our walls so it's just as cold as if we had no heat. Touch the walls and you might get frost bite! LOLOL Thanks for the post.