One time, more than twenty years ago, I had to call out an emergency plumber. I can’t remember what it cost (it seemed a lot at the time), but nowadays to call out an emergency plumber the cost is likely to be above £60. You only call an emergency plumber if, well, it’s an emergency. A slow drip is not really an emergency. A trickle or a spray could well be an emergency, and a gush even more so. I had a trickle/spray caused by me putting a small nail through a pipe (don’t ask). And, of course, it was the weekend when I’d been doing some home repairs/damage.
So, there was a trickle/spray coming from the pipe. I’d tied some cloth around the pipe, and this had downgraded the emergency somewhat, but I called the plumber anyway.
I can’t remember for sure, but maybe the company was called ‘Pure Plumbing’ or something similar.
So the emergency plumbers pitched up, and I showed them the pipe, undid the cloth, and there for all to see was the trickle/spray of water coming out of the pipe.
Without further ado, the plumber took a hammer from his belt of tools and hit the pipe, once, at the point from where the offending trickle/spray was emerging. The trickle/spray immediately ceased.
I was dumfounded. I looked at the plumber. He looked back at me, and said ‘lead pipe’.
For goodness sake, I thought to myself, I’ve had to cough up £60 for someone to come and hit my lead pipe with a hammer once. Why didn’t I think of that?
The plumber obviously thought he was onto a winner. Not only was this probably the most money he’d ever earned for the least imparted effort, but there could be more where that was coming from, so he promptly suggested that he could rip up most of my floorboards and replace all of my lead piping for only several hundred more pounds. I’ll give him that it was worth a try, but we put it off until we’d applied for a grant for replacing lead pipes.
I don’t have a great record when it comes to plumbing, but that record is much better than when it comes to electrics, which I do not understand at all, at all. I’ve connected at least one washing machine in my time, and only had one resulting complaint from them downstairs.
A while back, well about five years ago, we had a plumbing chap in to service the boiler and central heating. For this we pay an annual amount, and having the annual servicing was very reassuring. The plumber told us that we had a problem, which was almost certainly that we needed a new pump. So I contacted the service agreement people and said that we needed a new pump, which was covered by the service agreement. There was then quite a bit of toing and froing with the service agreement company, who suggested that we should get a power flush of all of our radiators first, at our own expense (because power flushes are not covered by the service agreement). I remember questioning the service agreement company about the need for a power flush when their own service plumber had said that we needed a new pump. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the company eventually agreed to install a new pump, which solved the problem.
Around the same time, by coincidence, my friend Fat Mac had been advised to power flush his own central heating system by his own service agreement company, but being a stingy so-and-so he’d decided instead to do without any heating whatsoever for six months and attempt to raise his own inner heat through prolonged and extreme meditation (I’m not kidding you – this is the truth) and in addition solve his plumbing issue through the power of prayer.
As an aside, and in Fat Mac’s defense, this connection between plumbing and prayer is not uncommon, IMHO. My son Jamie was living in Accra, Ghana, renting a house, and he had a problem with the water tank which meant that the shower often reduced to a dribble (not even a trickle). So Jamie called the landlord. The landlord responded quickly, and pitched up to the house. Jamie showed him the dribble of water coming from the shower head. His landlord went through to where the water tank was situated, called Jamie though, with his left hand he took Jamie’s hand, and then he placed his right hand on the water tank, then he said: “let us pray”. Then the landlord left.
All of this played around my head for a while, and with a medium amount of artistic license and exaggeration, I facetiously wrote to The Sunday Times agony aunt Mrs Mills ‘seeking’ a solution. Below is my letter, and her response (read the bit under ‘Flushed Away’):
Which brings me to my latest plumbing issue. It’s now mid-to-late October, and our boiler hasn’t been working since the end of August. We’ve had no heating or hot water since 31st August. We have a service agreement, which may, or may not, be with the same company as in the past (my wife deals with that). So, since the beginning of September we’ve been going to the Porty swimming pool most days, for a shower and a swim.
I’ve never swam so much in my life! We’ve also, as regular readers of this blog will know, been on a couple of breaks to places where they have showers/baths.
Yet, still, the issue with our boiler continues. It’s now a complaint with the service agreement people.
As the complaint has not been resolved at the time of writing, I can’t give more details, here. So, this post is…to be continued.