Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Going right off the boil

"It's not often you get a job like this where the boiler is totally ****ed and you need to get a new one," laughed the heating repair man as he adjusted the drawstring on his Stetson, holstered his six-shooter, snatched £40 from my trembling grasp then galloped off into the sunset.
And he wasn't even on a horse.

RIP Old Oily
2006 - 2016
Yes, like the late, great toupee-headed trickster Paul Daniels (and the kitchen door security light) our oil-fired heating system has sadly passed away. Jusht like that.

I remember happier times back in 2014 when we first met the boiler. Old Oily.
There it was, all massive and lonely in the corner by the Dining Room chimney breast, looking for all the world like a washing machine which had eaten another washing machine, and like a nervous puppy we took it under our wing and lavished love, attention and heaps of cash upon its oversized, neglected innards.
It was serviced by a Man Who Knew What He Was Doing; a great big red metal drum which contained some kind of important diaphragm was replaced; the vital and hideously expensive tiger loop thing outside was replaced with a brand new one which looks like a spaceship; settings were adjusted and tweaks were made and eventually, over a remarkably extended period of time, we brought it spluttering back to life, filling the house with the welcome and comforting aroma of thick, choking diesel fumes.

But we had heat and we had hot water which was, quite liderally, on tap.
Granted, at least half of the radiators had been removed and the hot water tap in the bathroom had to be turned on and off with molegrips, but there was an element of comfort that was well worth something in the region of 600 English pounds.

But after a couple of months of toasty bliss and shafts of sunlight piercing the haze of blue fumes, the Halcyon Days were over. Trouble was coming.

The boiler was fitted exactly 10 years and one day before it was declared dead. How weird is that?
It all started a couple of months ago when the hot water began playing silly buggers. Water of the required temperature would come from the taps for all of 30 seconds before rapidly flash-freezing our fingers, so anything we needed to do with any element of warmth needed to be over within a very short period of time.
But hot water wasn't a huge problem because we could boil the kettle for the dishes and the shower is electric. The only annoyance was washing our hands in Arctic ice-melt, but it was something we could live with.
When the lime plastering started we had to switch the heating itself off so the screed didn't dry out too quickly but after a couple of weeks of depressingly-cold temperatures in the house (4C at midday, anyone?) we negotiated for the heating to come on low for one hour, three times a day, which it did for a couple of weeks.

And then it didn't. And it hasn't ever since. The Big End has gone kaputt and there's no hot water at all now either. It was just a £500 pump too far.
RIP fella - at least we tried, even though we could have bought most of a new boiler for what we paid to have you resurrected. You ungrateful lump of useless scrap.

We can only assume that we upset Old Oily by getting gas hooked up to the house some weeks ago. It was the last straw for it.

As demonstrated by the picture, rush hour outside The Lodge
was chaotic for a full week. The work itself took half a day.
I didn't blog about it at the time but, very briefly, before we moved here we made the daft mistake of assuming that if gas could be routed here, it would have been done by now. All of the other properties in the area are on oil and there's a large customer base around here for a reason, so getting connected to gas would either be impossible or ridiculously expensive.

Then while Dawn was bored between jobs at work one day she made a phone call to the National Grid, just on a whim.
It turned out that not only did the main gas pipe for the village a mile down the road pass within 10ft of our boundary wall, but connecting to it would cost the measly sum of £265. Why hadn't we checked nine months earlier???
So we got connected before they changed their minds, and even though it's just a blanked-off pipe coming through the wall with nothing on the end of it, a gas supply forms a huge part of our long-term Kitchen extension plan.

Good idea, mate. Get that cigarette lit good and proper.

And here lies the point of this post - and there is one, believe it or not: don't assume anything. It makes an ass out of you and anyone else you can pin it on. It doesn't matter how convinced you are about something, check to be sure.

So now we need to have some discussions about what to do and when.

  • Do we get a cheap interim oil-fired boiler from eBay and have our friendly regular repair man (who found an ideal one online as he was telling me the bad news) install it until we're ready for a gas boiler? That's what he's done at home and he saved around £2,000 on new.
  • Or do we get a new gas boiler in now? But where would it go? The Kitchen is way too small to take it, even on the wall, and it's hardly ideal in the Dining Room, which is still being used as a dust-collecting storage room anyway. As well as that we want to extend the Kitchen, so how would we figure that in?
  • A third option is to sit it out, hope the weather improves, and see where we're at in the summer when plans may have moved on a bit.
I don't care what we do as long as I can one day have hands that are both clean and warm at the same time and I don't have to stand in the shower for 90 minutes just to thaw my eyes out. Small luxuries and all that.

All that bother for a piddly little pipe in the wall

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