Thursday, November 29, 2012

Still under the weather...

I'm still under the weather so I'm going to take things easy again. Hopefully everything will be back to normal tomorrow.

Apart from the Delhi belly, the other thing that has bugged me (there's a gag in there, somewhere) has been my exploits with trying to get the house sorted out. Long-time pals will know we moved into a new (rented) house a couple of years ago. Some will know it doesn't have any insulation whatsoever. 20mm of dust in the attic. That's all.

This year we wanted to get something done, especially with the cost of keeping warm rising so quickly. The cost of heating this smaller, semi-detached house is the same as our old place. We have a two-pronged attack: replacing the ancient boiler with a new one and getting the attic insulated and the wall filled with cavity insulation.

We had the house checked over earlier this month for free insulation. We were told that, yes, we qualified, and that there was a five-week waiting list for the work to be done.

On Friday (23rd) our landlady's odd-job guy came around to check out a couple of problems we were having with the hot water. There hasn't been any problems until we started putting on the heating in the morning to take the chill off the air. If we have the heating on, the water takes forever to heat up. I'd heard that the problem might be something called a three-point valve. However, the odd-job guy couldn't find the valve and we had to reconvene with a proper plumber on Monday. He told us that the boiler was so old that it doesn't have a three-point valve. Instead, it relies on gravity. The ground-mounted boiler heats the water, the warmer water rises up the pipe and that warm water heats the water in the hot water tank.

Unfortunately, there's a pump in the boiler that pumps hot water around the central heating. The pump is more powerful than gravity and sucks the hot water around the system, so very little rises, hence the hot water tank's failure to become hot. Nobody has noticed this in the past because previous tenants have left the heating on all day – it is, after all, a bloody cold house. We've tried to keep the amount of time it runs down to a sensible level, especially in the morning because of another problem: the boiler clanks like an old steam train and the moment the heating turns on, we get woken up.

So on Tuesday I get a phone call from our landlady to say we will be getting a new boiler. The alternative was to throw money at the old one to "fix" it, which would be cheaper. But it might only last a year and for a couple of hundred quid more, you get a gleaming new system with 5-year warranty.

I asked, in passing, whether she had heard from the insulation company. She had not, so I said I'd chase them up. That's when I discovered that the company had had its funding for doing insulation work axed on the Friday. They were unable to do any more work, didn't know if they were going to get paid for work already done (such as having someone over at our place to measure up) and were looking at laying off staff.

We had found this company via the local council's Warm Front scheme, so I phoned the girl who handles that and she had not been informed. When she phoned back later, she told me that another company she had contacted had had their funding axed an hour earlier.

So what we save via the boiler, we might lose straight out of the attic.

But I wouldn't want to leave you on that note. Today (Wednesday) we may have found another company that still has funding and might be willing to do something. Keep your fingers crossed for us.


  1. Steve good luck getting that sorted and get well soon.

    Bill Fleming (avid reader of blog).

  2. Hope you can fix the problem Steve. Good luck.
    And by the way, this story looks like a good script for a comic book :-) kinda "the Murphy's Law attack on a winter day"

    Take care
    Luis Mateus
    (A faithful blog reader from Portugal)

  3. Thanks to everyone for their sympathy. Yes, it's in that "would you believe it" category of story. I've yet to hear from the new company, so don't uncross your fingers just yet.



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