Tuesday, 27 November 2012

That sinking feeling

I am up early this morning waiting for the plumber to arrive.

Yesterday my wife noticed that there was a small pool of water in the cupboard under the sink. There was no indication where it had come from so we mopped it up and carried on as normal. Last night I went to turn the dishwasher on and the indicator light indicated that the rinse aid dispenser needed to be refilled. The rinse aid is kept under the sink ... and when I got it out there was a large pool of water there.

A cursory inspection revealed that the complicated system of pipes that connect the sink and dishwasher to the outflow pipe seems to have failed (one of the pipes almost came off in my hand!) and that it will need to be replaced.


Luckily I took out plumbing insurance some years ago. It guarantees a 24-hour service, so at midnight last night I was on the phone to the emergency phone line to book a plumber to come and fix the problem. They will be arriving sometime between 8.00am and 6.00pm, and they will phone 30 minutes before they will arrive.

So today I am going to spend a lot of time waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting.

PS. For anyone who is wondering why I just didn’t phone the local plumber to come and fix the problem, I would just like to point out that I live in London. Plumbers in London (and I suspect in other parts of the UK) are not very thick on the ground and those that are 'available' are not always as reliable as one would hope and expect them to be. They will often arrive late – or even on a different day – and quite a few will either charge you a ‘call-out’ charge of up to £100.00 on top of their normal charges or charge you an astronomic amount for the work that they do … and any emergency work can be even more costly than normal installation or repair work.

The insurance may not be cheap, but at least the plumber – who is approved or employed by the insurance company – will arrive when he is supposed to arrive and the work will be guaranteed by the insurance company.

12 comments:

  1. Bob, not many people know this but I am a qualified plumber. It sounds like the outflow pipe has simply worked loose - you could almost certainly replace it yourself. People get scared of messing with their plumbing but generally it is relatively straight-forward (and the worst that can happen is usually a wet floor). If I lived in London I'd pop round and do it for you but a 420 mile round trip from the Wirral is stretching it!

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  2. Phil Broeders,

    Thanks for the very kind offer and the advice.

    I suspect that the the problem might be slightly more than the outflow pipe working loose. I have had another look at the pipework in daylight ... and it appears that the seals on at least two of the joints have failed. Even when they seem to be tight, water is leaking out of them. I would rather leave it to someone who knows what they are doing to fix.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Sounds like a job for PTFE tape (the plumbers' friend), a couple of new rubber washers inside the connectors and a quick turn with the wrenches.

    Make sure you look over his shoulder and don't take any nonsense. The parts should cost him less than £2.

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  4. I hope the repairs go smoothly Bob. I have to do most of my own repairs with "learned the hard way" "skills" but I'd cheerfully keep those professionals employed.

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  5. Phil Broeders,

    That sounds like it would solve the problem ... and if my wife did not have me doing something else today (cleaning the conservatory windows!) I might have had a go at fixing it myself.

    Because the plumber is being paid for by the insurance company I am not too worried about the cost ... as long as it gets fixed!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Ross Mac,

    There are two things that I don't like to try to fix myself; water and electricity. I have attempted to fix toilets that won't flush, taps that drip, and bunged up outflow pipes (all with varying degrees of success) but anything that involves joints between pipes I leave to experts. I tried to fix a broken joint once before ... and made a right mess of it.

    I get paranoid about trying to fix electrical faults ... with good reason! Getting electric shocks - even mild ones - Is not my idea of fun; neither is standing up a ladder with a torch in my mouth, a screwdriver in my hand, and a broken light fitting in the other ... and then being asked how long it will take to fix the problem.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Thanksgiving day we had family over, and there was a lot of dishes to be washed. I had to go to the basement, and noticed there was water running out from under the baseboard approximately where the sink upstairs was located.
    Friday I had a plumber in. Its a local company I had used before. They had to make three holes in the wall to figure out the problem. For Kansas City, its an old house, built in 1938. There was some old plumbing coming in from outside, apparently to an old cistern. It tied into the drain and had developed a leak.
    Its always something. I have had 2 trees removed this year, and my furnace replaced.
    Hope the repairs are done quickly!
    Bill

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  8. Bob, I'm with you with electrics.
    Its something they said on my course - if you mess up the plumbing, someone gets a wet carpet. If you mess up the gas or electrics, someone dies.

    I only ever did the water side of plumbing (as I wanted to do my own plumbing and put in the central heating for a friend of the family).

    Its proved useful over the years - I've put up guttering for 3 relatives, sorted out innumerable plumbing problems for friends and family and just this week cleared a drain blockage myself (saving about £200).

    I was going to say - if you can post some photos I could certainly suggest a plan of action. But have a go - you'll feel great once its done.

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  9. Bill,

    It sounds like your problems have been worse thatn mine. At least mine only took twenty minutes to fix ... although the plumber has advised me to have the pipework replaced as all he has done is repair the leak and not solved the underlying problem ... which is that the original pipework was not installed to the best standards. (I must admit that it always looked like a bodged job to me ... but I am no expert!)

    The next thing that needs sorting is the conservatory roof, which is leaking along one edge. (I discovered the problem whilst cleaning the windows this afternoon.)

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Phil Broeders,

    You were absolutely right about the repair. He had the pipework apart, cleaned all the joints, replaced two rubber seals, and then used something that looked like Vaseline on the screw threads of the joints. It took twenty minutes, and having watched him do it I think that I could duplicate what he did if I ever need to.

    He did advise us to have the pipework replaced as he said that it looked like a 'dog’s breakfas't, and that it did not appear to have been installed by a plumber. (It was installed by the kitchen fitters, one of whom was ‘supposed’ to be a plumber.)

    I am with you regarding electricity. It is dangerous stuff. I used to warn students NOT to touch the cables behind the computers in my classroom. You can guess what happened; one of them ‘knew better’ … and ended up being thrown across the room when he touched something that was ‘live’. He escaped with minor burns and shock … and was very, very lucky.

    I have tried DIY, but there are some things that I would prefer to use a professional for. They usually know what they are doing, have the right tools, and don’t cause more damage fixing the initial problem. I have previously failed on all three counts … and learnt my lessons the hard way.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. My sympathies. The timer went on our boiler a couple of weeks ago - 3 hours before we had guests arriving!

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  12. Tim Gow,

    It is almost as if the bits of machinery know that failing at that particular moment is going to cause you the greatest inconvenience.

    All the best,

    Bob

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