Silence Doesn’t Imply Inactivity

Cor blimey, it’s been busy around these parts, to be sure. I scarcely know where to begin; it’s been that long.

The bricklayers are gone now and the scaffolding has come down. With a bit of luck, that will mean the last of the brown water stains on the conservatory ceiling.

The chimney is in true again, as are the walls of the balconies. All around the house, the brickwork has been renewed and is looking much better. I hope we won’t have to touch it again for quite a few years.

Because it’s been so heavily trodden of late, the garden’s looking a right mess now, though. It’ll need some work in the new year to get the lawn looking nice again.

Our leaking boiler in the loft caused me no end of stress over the last few weeks. The required new valve, when it came, turned out to be just one of two parts that needed to be replaced. This wasn’t discovered until the valve had been removed by the plumber. I was told that the second part, a motor, would have a three week delivery time. By this point, I was already having to go up into the loft once a day to empty the bucket that had been catching the water dripping from the leaking valve.

Unfortunately, the act of removing and refitting the bad valve significantly worsened the leak and I quickly found myself entering the loft multiple times per day to empty the bucket. At the worst of it, I went to bed at 03:45 after emptying the bucket and was woken by Sarah at 07:30 after she had found water streaming out of the bathroom ceiling from an air vent and a light fitting. One floor up, water was also coming through the ceiling of the toilet.

Sarah constructed a set of plastic run-off gutters to carry the water to a much larger bucket (that was too big to place directly under the leaking valve), which bought us the freedom to make just a single trip to the loft each day to empty the contents. I was very grateful for this small mercy, because, by this time, I felt like a complete slave to the water that had come to rule my life.

A huge quantity of water was now pouring from this leak, although the exact rate of loss depended on the ambient temperature and how much work the boiler was having to do to heat the house. In any case, the boiler was completely emptying itself within three to four days, causing us to lose all of our heating and hot water. With sub-zero night-time temperatures, this was no laughing matter.

As I said, the situation caused me no end of stress. Not least amongst my concerns was the fear that the spare part that had been ordered would be out of stock and not delivered in time for Christmas. I couldn’t imagine how we could possibly go away with the danger of severe water damage so real.

Luckily, the replacement motor arrived within mere days, not weeks, and the boiler company were prompt about fitting both it and the new valve. I refilled the boiler with water and now, nearly a week later, the heating is still working, so I can tentatively say, with fingers crossed, that the problem has finally been fixed. God, I sincerely hope so.

The issue of the leaking valve had actually been with us since we bought the house, but we didn’t know where the leak was. The boiler company, too, had been unable to trace it. A year ago, it was taking a few months to empty. By last week, it was taking just a few days.

So, it wasn’t until things took a drastic turn for the worse that the location of the leak revealed itself to us. There was no way for that quantity of water to disappear so quickly without trace.

It’s amazing how many things within one’s home one takes for granted. The last few weeks have been a humbling experience.

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