What a nice and quiet day Monday was, well almost. Early rise then breakfast, a little later I was placing one foot in front of the other as I walked to the north of town along the seafront. It started bright and sunny but soon after I began the walk it turned cloudy and somewhat cool, which I didn’t mind. The wind had changed and was now blowing from the north-west, hence the coolness. It was way too early for lunch by the time I got back home so I sat out on the patio with E with a coffee for the sunshine had returned. Because it was around noon the shadow of the house had now covered most of the patio but E was able to sit in the sunny part. An hour later and the patio was in full sunshine again and would be for the next three and a half hours if it didn’t turn cloudy again. It didn’t turn cloudy during the remainder of the day. We returned indoors for lunch by which time it was hot and humid outside. Now I could have done some work, which I was wanting to do but because of the weather conditions I decided against that idea. I spent the afternoon in the garden either on the patio or pottering about around the garden itself removing weeds and debris, nothing strenuous of course. Around five o’clock I got the hose and watered the plants before finally going back indoors to do some domestic chores. E had gone out, taking her mom they spent a couple of hours in town doing some business and window-shopping. When I was outside I had left my phone indoors. I sometimes do that so I am not disturbed but I check to see if anyone has called. Our next-door neighbour had called me three times on the mobile and twice on the house phone. E had just returned and before she came inside I told her about the calls thinking a parcel had been left with our neighbour which sometime happens. When E came back she told me our neighbour was having problems with her electric shower! Although it was now approaching meal time I told E I was going next door to see if I could help with the shower and she then told me that I should take note that our neighbour’s gates were stiff to open. Sure enough the gates were sticking together at the bottom. All had been quiet until our neighbour put a spanner in the works, lol. I knocked on the door and was invited inside. I went upstairs along with her son and checked the operation of the shower. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it just as it was when I checked it a few weeks earlier. The problem was they didn’t know how to use the controls to get the best from the shower. I explained how the shower works and the link between water flow and pressure to the heat of the water. The heat settings only switch on the elements either high or low. Water control does the rest. Finally the penny dropped and they could now see what they were doing wrong. I asked if they had an adjustable spanner (wrench) and the son fetched one. I took them both to the gates and showed them what the problem was with them sticking. I had the adjustments made in twenty seconds and all was fine. Maybe next time (though there shouldn’t be a next time after my adjustment) they could do it themselves, or rather the son could. It would be a first.
At last we have some cool and refreshing weather after days of unbearable heat and humidity. I write this on Thursday morning at home with the fresh air wafting in through the open windows. Again I had slept upon the bed rather than in it because of the high overnight temperature and humidity but perhaps this evening I will be able to have the duvet cover me! Enough of that. I woke early enough to have breakfast but fell asleep again and was late getting up. It was ten-thirty and I allowed myself only a fruit drink until lunch. I had a job to do at home, one of those things we promise to do but keep putting off. I say ‘we’ but in this case it was an electrical job which of course not everyone would do anyway unless they had the knowledge. At home we have a large hot water storage cylinder where the water is heated either by the immersion heater or indirectly by an internal coil through which hot water heated by the boiler circulates. Most of the time we have the boiler heat the cylinder. Our boiler is in a room in the cellar and the cylinder is two floors above but not directly above. This means the circulation pipes are long and have to be well insulated, which they are. The boiler ‘knows’ when to heat up the circulating water because there is a thermostat exactly as the one shown above on the cylinder to send that signal when necessary. Now then, for some time the cylinder water temperature has been excessively hot which isn’t a problem in itself but can be hazardous if we are not aware of it. The thermostat was positioned too low on the cylinder and set at too high a setting. The water at the bottom of the cylinder was being monitored rather than that higher up the cylinder which is the normal way. I had to replace the supply cable to allow the thermostat to be re-positioned. Not a big job but a little awkward and I had it done in a half-hour. The benefits resulting from such a simple job are well worth the short time it took to do it so I wonder why it took so long for me to get around to it!
Another warm and humid day on Thursday yet I had determined to arise early and do some more work in the garden before it got too warm and sticky. Alas it didn’t work out that way as by the time I had finished breakfast it was already uncomfortable to work in. The repairs to the brickwork I had done on the raised bed the day before was now solid. The job I had in mind this time was to mix some, well quite a bit, of concrete made with granite dust (granno). I wanted to place it along the joints between the paving slabs and the border stones I had placed around the Mound and the west wall flowerbed. When I did the stone border along the long flowerbed a couple of months ago I formed a substantial joint along the whole length in order to prevent gaps appearing either caused by the weather or more likely the activity of ants! Ants have been very active lately along the west wall flowerbed border and also along the front edge of the Mound where they face the lawn and a couple of gaps have appeared along with the tell-tale sign of excavated soil. I’ll say one thing for ants, they certainly work hard. However I had to shelve the idea of doing the work until it gets a little cooler. I was sitting at the computer late morning when I received a call for my services. Someone not far away wanted me to replace a ceiling light. I was happy to do it and off I went. I was back home twenty-five minutes later. I waited a short time before having lunch after which I sat out on the patio for a while. I noticed the ‘bib tap’ (faucet similar to that shown in picture) was leaking water from the handle yet it was valved-shut.
Metal engraved tap (valve) in Fužine castles yard, Ljubljana, Slovenia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The garden hose is usually kept connected to this tap in the rear garden whereas we keep the hose for use in the front garden in one of the garages and connect it to the tap there when we want to use it. The packing seal, usually called the stuffing box, was worn so I used some PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape to wrap around the stem which effectively cured the leak. Now I was keen to do something else but there was little else to do so I sat it out again on the patio before watering the garden plants. I thought I would sit a while longer outside to relax and enjoy the view but I spotted a montbretia sticking out of the soil on the far side of the garden, about thirty metres away! When you have been digging out montbretia and bluebells for weeks on end (see earlier posts) you get to spot them as soon as they appear. Actually I don’t know how five minutes earlier I hadn’t seen it when watering the plants.
….and you lose some, that’s the way in life. We can feel disappointed when something doesn’t go our way but there is always something else on the horizon. That’s the way it is with my electrical work, sometimes, well most times, I get to do the work I am offered if I say I will take it on. Sometimes though I find I am unable to do the work once I get to see what is involved. I am qualified and experienced enough to tackle any electrical work but now my age prevents me from doing too much and indeed I have chosen not to. So it was that on Friday I went along to assess replacing a couple of flood lights and discovered that although I could have done the work it would have been too much for me. The problem had nothing to do with replacing the lights but the way they had been wired meant that they needed rewiring properly. That led on to another problem for there was no RCD protection on the house wiring system so one would need to be supplied.
Residual current device 2pole 100A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All this would add to the expense and the time needed to do it all. That is why I turned down the work. Now it could be that the customer will employ someone else who perhaps isn’t as concerned about electrical regulations and just replaces the lights alone but there is no way I would. Friday was a day of rain and wind so I couldn’t have worked outdoors anyway. When I returned home I carried out a little maintenance work on the garage door and dug out a couple of bluebells I had noticed in the flowerbed nearby. It’s a game of cat and mouse with the bluebells! One day maybe I’ll be rid of them. As I write this it looks as though the weather for Saturday will allow me to work in the garden if I’ve a mind to do so but I might leave it until Monday. It all depends on how I am feeling and how bored I might be if I don’t do something. I might just go on a bluebell hunt on Saturday to allow me to concentrate on the stone edging in the days ahead. That’s the plan anyway….
Or didn’t I? That is the question and the short answer is yes. I was rambling on in yesterday’s post about whether I would get some garden maintenance done because the weather had been forecast as warm but a little windy. Well it was a little bit windier than just a little though not as it was on Christmas Eve. I came down quite early and to my surprise E had pipped me to the post and was just about to eat her breakfast. She hadn’t gotten back home until very late and didn’t get upstairs to her room before one o’clock. I knew that because I was having difficulty nodding off in the heat and humidity inside the house. Three times I had to get up and open the window fully just to stand in the cool breeze and help chill the room down a little. I must have dozed off around two o’clock but was up at seven-thirty after a sound sleep. E’s good at finding things for me to do and Christmas morning was no exception. Evidently her garage door had once again stuck in the open position and wouldn’t drop down. After breakfast I put on my overalls, for I was going to do some garden maintenance anyway and went out to check the roller door. The real problem is with the tracks, one either side, in which the roller door runs. If it catches something the motor continues to unwind the rolled-up door and it all becomes loose. The cure is to disengage the motor using the installed lever and then pull down the door manually until it reaches the floor. Once there the motor is re-engaged and all is fine. I applied some lubricant to the tracks using furniture polish. Yes you read that correctly, it has bees-wax in it which is the recommended lubricant. Now I could get on with the garden work. The first task was to dig out the bluebell bulbs I had missed when redesigning the flowerbeds in Summer, though only one had bulbs in it. I must have done a more thorough job in filtering the soil in the other! That didn’t take long and then it was time to pull out some Montbretia and begin to take down little by little an overgrown tall shrub growing in the border. This is the picture I took after I had cut down half of it…….
it is the one standing immediately next to the large holly tree on the right. The problem is that this shrub likes to grow fast and weaves itself amongst other plants. I left the other half to chop down for another day as by that time I’d had enough. Here is a picture taken near to its base which will also have to be removed in the near future….
When I had tidied up I went into the rear garden and cleared away more leaves that had found their way there, almost half a wheelie bin of them when loose. Naturally I pressed them down to get them in. I had thought I’d seen the last of fallen leaves in the gardens. It wasn’t to be. It was time for lunch when I had finished but this year I broke with tradition (beans on toast) and had eggs on toast instead. E had cooked a chicken to compliment other roasted foods her mom would be cooking and soon she was off out with it to Christmas dinner with her family, and half of my family too! Why didn’t I go? I wasn’t invited as usual.
I can relax a little now that all the major projects I had set myself to do this year have been accomplished. I will not remain idle though for even now I can think of things I can do to keep me occupied. On Wednesday morning after breakfast I undertook to finish the small project I had started the previous day which involved alterations to floodlights at the rear and one side of the house. Basically all I had left myself to do was to fix a new floodlight and a connection box then terminate the wiring after which I painted the remaining section of the main cable I had been unable to do the day before.
The light which used to be where the black connection box is just around the corner (top-middle) has now been re-positioned where you see it on the right of the kitchen window. A cable now runs from the connection box to a new position beneath the other kitchen window here in this picture …It now shines directly upon the Plot when activated and will better illuminate the area and especially the passageway beneath it. The faulty floodlight will be partly dismantled and tested and if it is only the sensor that is faulty and not the LED lamp I will keep hold of it and use it elsewhere. It didn’t take long to dismantle the tower and store it away until it is needed again. It was almost lunchtime but I waited an hour before indulging. After lunch I had set myself a little plumbing job to do. If any of my readers will remember, I drained down the central heating system radiators and pipework a couple of months ago while it was still Summer in order to fit new radiator valves where I could get at them, though not all of them needed replacing. That meant air in the system when I refilled it of course, most of which I vented off manually. However, the bathroom towel rail heater remained air locked even though I had made alterations to the pipes in the airing cupboard to enable me to release any trapped air. I needed to get to grips with the situation but what with all the other work I had been doing I never really had the time. I attached a previously made length of hose pipe with a connecting pipe and fitting to the valve I had installed when the system was empty of water and allowed the water to gush out and into the bathtub. Surprisingly there was no air but just a little sludge, enough to stem the flow of water when in use. Thankfully the towel rail heated up and I was able to pack everything away.
I like being my age, most of the time that is! Age brings with it many problems for some people though some will sail through their latter days with hardly a problem at all. You might say it was a matter of luck or good fortune and you would be partly right. Much of our health and susceptibility to illnesses can be attributed to our genes but not for everyone. We have to do our best to stay healthy and hope that will be enough. Remaining active into old age is beneficial to our health and well-being and it is one of the reasons I have kept working beyond the age I would normally have retired. The other reasons for working are that I enjoy it and if I am working for someone else it pays too! The beauty of working for one’s self is that there is no real pressure, you can work as much as you want to. Since becoming self-employed over nineteen years ago I have found that to be true. I can take work on board or not and take time for myself when it suits me. On Tuesday last I had a call from a guy for whom I had worked in the past and he was asking for my electrical services to solve a couple of problems he was having with his installation. My intention has been to work at home on a mini-project concerning the floodlights at the rear of the house but as there was no pressure to do it I agreed to respond to his request. It was nine o’clock when I arrived at his house and eleven-thirty when I left. It was financially beneficial to me of course and well worth the time I had spent there. When I returned home I prepared a vegetable and chicken stew, mostly vegetables, the way I prefer it being made. I used onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, carrots and peas on this occasion together with pre-cooked diced chicken. I made enough for two or three meals as often I don’t have the time or inclination to stand in the kitchen cooking, much as I like cooking. I had some of the stew for my lunch as by then it was one o’clock. Soon after lunch I put on my overalls and started working in the garden. First job was to move the small concrete slabs, natural stone slabs and a couple of bricks that I had temporarily left in the passageway between the side of the house and the ‘Plot’ where I had been working lately. I then began to erect two sections of the scaffolding tower to allow me to reach the floodlights on that side and end of the house. There are five floodlights on the rear and side walls of the house. The one nearest the patio and facing the lawn had been faulty for some weeks so I planned to remove it and replace it with the one just around the corner which faced the Plot. It is the light just to the right of the window at bottom right in this picture, though the picture was taken a few years ago before I changed them to LED floodlights…… I would then extend the wiring from where I had removed that floodlight and install a new floodlight further along the wall but at a lower height and better position to illuminate the Plot and the passageway to the rear of the garage. Re-positioning that floodlight would also prevent false triggering of the floodlight’s sensor caused by the laurel bushes at the side of the patio which move in the wind. I got most of the work done by five o’clock when it began to get too dark. I had to put everything away but of course I left the tower erected as I hadn’t finished the work. Another hour or so would see it completed and I planned to do that the next day.
Another funny day on Thursday but for different reasons. Nothing really was planned and I was to be house-bound for the afternoon. I had to wait at home for an engineer to check our faulty fridge/freezer under guarantee. It had been looked at some weeks ago but that engineer I discovered hadn’t checked it properly even though I was charged a lot of money for him to check it out. Modern fridges cannot always be repaired easily as many components are moulded into the fabric of the framework. The compressor and pipework are accessible though and can be worked upon. In our unit it turned out to be a heater fault . The heater is used to defrost the system automatically but unfortunately it cannot be accessed as it is hidden in the insulation. A stupid idea if you ask me for it means defrosting will now have to take place manually! I digress. A four-hour slot had been allocated for him to call which meant I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere until he had called. Wouldn’t you know it? He arrived at the end of the four hours! So what was I to do in the morning? There was a small amount of filling in with concrete on the Plot but I decided not to do that until another day. Instead, I drove to the garden centre to browse for more plants and returned home with three to put in the Plot, two in the ground and one in the raised flowerbed.
The small conifer in the left corner of the flowerbed and the two shrubs just right of the new steps are those which I bought and planted. I did no other work during the morning. E went out shopping as usual and I had to wait until almost five o’clock before I could return to the apartment I had worked in the day before and get paid by the old lady I had worked for. We ended up chatting and I didn’t leave until long after six o’clock by which time E had returned and was eating her evening meal! As far as the fridge/freezer is concerned I might just decide to buy another but of a different make, it will depend upon how frustrated we get having to manually defrost it every so often.
Office (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One thing I have always maintained is that I couldn’t sit in an office all day long to earn a wage. Although office work might suit some people it certainly doesn’t and never has suited me, I like to be out and about being somewhere different each day. The occupation I chose has provided me with the freedom over the years and even when I was fixed in one location many times and for many months on construction sites and large commercial projects there was still that flexibility and freedom. I once worked as a maintenance engineer for twenty-one years and that job came close to keeping me in one place but even then there was freedom of movement as it was a large complex. Since working for myself these last nineteen years I have enjoyed considerable freedom of movement and of choice of work. It has given me the freedom to allow myself time off whenever I feel the need too. I had a non-planned full day at the office so to speak on Monday. Monday wasn’t really a pleasant day weather-wise until later in the afternoon. I had one job scheduled for the morning which took me up to ten-thirty and then I drove off to call into the service station where I have my van repaired and tested. Last Saturday on returning home from work I found I couldn’t switch off my van’s lights. If I opened the door to get out an alarm sounded but then stopped once the door was closed. I got out to see what would happen but found the lights still remained on. If I switched the column stalk switch to the ‘on’ position and went through the process once more the lights turned off after a minute. It needed an auto-electrician to look at it.
Even though I have worked on many electrical systems motor vehicles is one area I gave a wide berth over the years. I have never been that interested in vehicle maintenance and only have a basic knowledge of motor vehicle circuitry. These days much of the circuitry is now computer controlled anyway. Unfortunately my service station don’t employ an auto-electrician at their premises but the gave me an address of one who lives and works locally. I drove there and the guy had a quick look and booked my van in for the next morning. As I write this on Monday evening I cannot say what has been the outcome. Whilst there it rained heavily and continued for the next hour or so with more bursts until the early afternoon. It was lunchtime so I prepared and ate lunch and then decided I would do some preparation work so I could carry on with the bricklaying on my project on the Plot on Tuesday which supposedly was going to be a fine day together with Wednesday. I had just begun to move the remainder of the bricks. about two hundred of them, close to the Plot itself when my phone rang. Ir was a call for help from a regular customer. Part of their kitchen wiring had an intermittent fault and they could hear the sound of arcing beneath the kitchen units. I had done work in their kitchen a couple of years ago to put right part of the installation which had been done by her husband who had then abandoned her and went to live elsewhere. The final part of that installation needed rewiring on its own circuit but at that time there were no funds available. I arranged it to still function at a lower capacity by connecting it temporarily through a plug thus limiting the current to 13 amps. The lady was to call me when she was ready for the rewire of the circuit to take place. She didn’t call and the temporary arrangement finally gave way because she was making too many demands on the plug. I made the repair. She really ought to consider getting the circuit rewired. I returned home and managed to get the bricks moved and some groundwork done too before calling it a day. It was time for my evening meal already!
The sun may be cracking the flags just now but the change only started on Saturday morning after a few days of dull, overcast and occasional rain. I think the main culprit was the position of the so-called Jet Stream which by all accounts has now shifted a little in our favour. I had made arrangements for the engineer to check out the fridge/freezer and had prepaid the sum of £114 for the privilege. It took some time to eventually get the appointment due to the poor access to the manufacturer. Their telephone service was one of the worst I have ever encountered, menu-driven and often I was misdirected or cut off. I needed to speak with someone but eventually gave up. Their online presence was just as poor but I did get connected to their repair agency otherwise the work would never have been done. I had checked out the system myself as did a local engineer but neither of us could find a fault. The engineer who came on Saturday had it sorted in fifteen minutes. It appeared that a sensor (thermistor, a resistive device which changes values with temperature) had become loose! Naturally I was going to claim a partial refund, £114 for fifteen minutes is a little over the top, that’s a whopping £456 per hour! I believe that a lower charge is levied (£45) if the fault, or lack of one as in this case, was minimal. Rather than attempt to contact the company by phone (almost impossible) or on-line I chose to write them a letter of which I made a copy indicating my concerns regarding the price and the poor connectivity to their services. I thanked them for the prompt and efficient service provided by their engineer however who by the way gave me a receipt showing the total amount of time he had spent at my house…..15 minutes. I will have to wait and see what their response will be. Anyway I took the walk to the post box and posted the letter. It was warm and beginning to get sunny. In yesterday’s post I wrote about my escapades installing the new towel rail.radiator in the wet room and the visit from the joiner who will replace the door I had mentioned. I didn’t mention however that I had struggled a little trying to remove the door and it’s hinges and the having to take it down more than three flights of stairs before hauling it out to the garage until I decide what to do with it. Gosh it was heavy, they certainly don’t make them like that these days, not for general use anyway. It must have been one of the original doors fitted back in 1877. Actually all the doors in the house are the original ones fitted. So I had Saturday off except that I mowed the lawn, vacuumed the carpet on the stairs and landings whilst ‘Robbie’ (our robotic vacuum cleaner) did my bedroom, nailed down any loose floorboards in the top room in readiness for the carpet to be laid and I did some cooking and washing too! I find it hard just sitting on my bottom and doing nothing. Sunday though would not be the same, it would be a day of rest. Monday, well this is what happened on Monday…the carpet fitter arrived mid-morning and finished the job before noon.
The door has not yet been replaced as you can see in the last picture taken through the doorway from the landing. You can also see that E has quite a number of machines and boxes of materials for her crafting hobby. I suspect she will turn it into a small business considering the specialist equipment she has purchased.
Not the same, not as good, not made to last, they don’t make things like they once did, everything is designed to be thrown away after a short time. We’ve all heard those sayings especially those of us who are members of the older generations. We can all remember the days when things were made to last but today it seems that robustness no longer exists for many manufactured things. At home we have three large chest freezers, one small freezer and two small fridges down in our cellar rooms and upstairs in the kitchen we have two fridge/freezers. The largest of the chest freezers was purchased at a church auction as I recall in the mid-eighties around about 1985 so shall we say 30 years ago? At that time the freezer was already 20 years old, maybe older. That is around 50 years and it is still working! They certainly don’t make them like that anymore. One of the two fridge/freezers we have began to have problems some time ago. It was producing too much cold air and ice began to form inside the freezer compartment when it should not have done. That could have been caused by a couple of things, defrost heater fault, blocked drain, faulty control panel, faulty sensors/thermostats. I had tried all the obvious things to no avail so I thought I would call in a specialist to check it out. It’s not that I haven’t worked on refrigerators (or freezers), I have, in fact the machines I have worked on ranged from the small air conditioning units to units as large a double-decked bus! I have not worked on domestic fridges so much, in fact very little and that was around 45 years ago when they were built differently. The same principles apply to fridges/freezers/heat pumps no matter their size. It is the method of control and the components which differ. Whilst I was waiting for the guy to show I decided to strip down the unit and check out what I could. I found a huge block of ice on the evaporator which should not have been there. A blocked drain could allow the build-up of ice so I cleared out the drain pipe though nothing much was stuck in there. I checked the circulation fan (a newer development not found on very old units) and saw that it was working. I put everything back together but still the compressor didn’t start. The compressor is the main component in any recycling refrigeration system no matter what its size, basically a motor which compresses the refrigerant and pumps it around the system. I left the unit switched off for a time and restarted it later. By now it was seven-thirty in the evening and I didn’t expect the guy (and his father) to call at that hour but they did! They wanted to see what was wrong with the unit for themselves and having checked it over couldn’t find a problem either. The guy suggested that I had already cured the problem myself and to leave it switched on for a couple of hours to see if everything returned to normal. He phoned back an hour or so later to ask if it was operating. I hadn’t yet checked it but went straight to the kitchen and discovered that it was getting colder inside. I thought the problem had now been sorted. It wasn’t, three hours later it was still struggling to lower the temperature, only reaching down to +10 deg C. I switched it off and the following morning trawled the Internet to find a local engineer. The first guy admitted that if the system required recharging with refrigerant he couldn’t do it and I suspected that could have been the problem. I would have to wait and see. I arranged for the repairs to be done on Friday for a fixed price. So much for modern standards of manufacture, an appliance which goes faulty within two years doesn’t bode well does it?
Central Heating 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having had no electrical work this past week I have been able to get on with a few things at home. Yesterday, that is Thursday as I write this, I was able to make a start on the central heating work, replacing the valves on seven radiators and altering some pipework. If my readers will remember I managed to do six of the radiators and as I had begun the work late in the day I stopped after three hours being as it was then time for my evening meal. After breakfast on Friday I completed the replacing of the radiator valves, a total of fourteen. There are actually thirteen radiators in total plus at the moment one tall towel rail. I replaced the valves on but seven of them for some were inaccessible and some didn’t require replacing anyway. I also installed two gate valves in the cellar room below the wet room so that I can connect a towel radiator/rail later without having to drain the system again. The heating pipes cover four floors and I know from memory that a plate manifold exists beneath E’s bedroom floor on the first floor. The reason I mention that is because when I began to refill the system it took an inordinately long time to fill. I have a feeling that air is still trapped in some of the pipes and probably in that manifold too. Slowly the radiators on the ground floor filled up but it took some time.The first floor radiators took much longer to fill, in fact twice as long. The bathroom towel rail is a problem and even now as I write this on Friday evening air is still trapped in the pipes despite my fitting a gate valve to manually vent it. Two of the five radiators on the first floor don’t appear to be totally free of air as yet also. There are three radiators on the top floor but two are not in use and were valved-off. The third hasn’t filled up as yet either. That radiator is in the room we recently redecorated and which is still waiting to have a new carpet laid when I get around to ordering one. Once the first two floors were just about free of air I switched on the pump for a time to encourage the air to escape. I’d had enough of going up and down the stairs venting radiators trying to find out why the system was taking so long to fill up so after five hours I packed it in and left it for another day. Things may have settled down in a day or two and the trapped air may have escaped but if not I shall have to investigate further. I may have to ‘force fill’ the pipes in order to expel any trapped air that isn’t caught in a radiator where it can be vented off easily. Incidentally our system is an open type one pipe system which means it isn’t pressurised and it is served by a header tank where it can expand and/or overflow if anything goes wrong. Don’t you just love plumbing? Don’t you remember from all my earlier posts about my plumbing escapades? I hate plumbing! Ha ha.
Radiator of a central heating system . Transparent background & converted to SVG by Rugby471. Original picture is here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was talking about the possibility of starting the task of replacing many of the valves on the radiators on our heating system. Not every one needed to be changed and some couldn’t be reached anyway because of the things stored in the rooms they are in. Those rooms are currently not in use of course except for the storage of furniture, the furniture belonging to my sons. Should it be necessary to replace the valves in those rooms at a later date it won’t be too difficult but it will necessitate draining down the system again. So it was that in the afternoon on Thursday whilst E was out doing the weekly shopping I set about making a start in replacing the valves. First point of call, the top of the house into one of the two small loft areas in which the water storage tank for the heating system is located in order to isolate the water supply to the tank. It was then possible to drain the water out of the radiators without it being automatically replaced by the storage tank! Second point of call, the lowest part of the house, the cellar, where the boiler is located. I attached a hose pipe to the drain cock and led it out of the door into the garden then opened the valve. It was a case then of waiting a half-hour for the water to completely drain out of the system. I returned to the top of the house and opened the air bleed screws on each of the radiators in turn to test whether the radiators were empty. As soon as the first one was empty I began to replace its valves. I continued with each of the radiators in turn until I reached those on the ground floor. Of the five down there one didn’t need its valves replacing and one couldn’t be reached because of the furniture stored in the room. I managed to replace the valves on two of the three remaining radiators before E returned home with the shopping. At that time I stopped the work. It had taken me a little less than three hours. At the time of writing this on Thursday evening one radiator remains to be done. I have also to alter some pipework in the cupboard in the main bathroom in order to fit an air release valve there and then I have to fit a couple of ‘gate’ valves in the cellar beneath the wet room floor in readiness for the installation of a towel rail at a later date. The only form of heating in the wet room at this moment is from a fan heater at high level which is fine if wanting to heat the room whilst having a shower but not to have switched on all day long (in the colder months). Having a heated towel rail will keep the room reasonably warm whilst at the same time keeping the towels dry.
I am hoping there will be no leaks when the water is turned back on after the work is complete because that might necessitate a drain-down of the system again in order to fix it!
For someone who is supposed to be semi-retired I have been very busy with my electrical work during the week gone by. It is now Monday and I am wondering what the new week has in store for me regarding electrical work. Most of the jobs I do these days are small though occasionally I will get several ‘small’ jobs to do at the same address! This happened twice last week. I get tired if I do too much especially when the weather is warm as it has been for some time now. The heat drains my energy and that is why I prefer cooler weather if I am working. Our little decorating project in the top room came to a grinding halt more than a week ago because the weather has been too nice to remain indoors. There is little to do up there anyway, a couple of hours painting over a couple of days and some other small jobs to do will see it finished as far as our involvement goes. Once the carpet has been fitted there will be nothing left to do. The weather can’t remain fine and sunny forever can it? On the days I haven’t been working away from home E and I have been busy in the gardens, mostly removing plants or planting new ones (see previous posts). On Thursday afternoon whilst E was out shopping I removed two plants from one of the two smaller flowerbeds I had constructed on the patio last Autumn. We had purchased what we thought would be small and slow-growing plants when we first populated the beds. Some of the plants are Cyclamens which don’t grow fast or large as well as another variety which likewise remains small but one other variety does. I don’t know its name. The plant in the picture below is of course a Cyclamen.
We weren’t aware of this when we purchased them but this season two of them grew so large they were blocking out the other plants. This only happened in one of the flowerbeds for in the other bed these particular plants did not survive and did not grow at all. I removed the two plants to a position beneath the apple trees near to the greenhouses further along in the same bed as the new Dahlias and Scented Lily we had planted a week or so ago. They survived the move as they had fully developed root balls which were not disturbed during the process. The thing about gardening is that there is always something to do all year round but especially in the growing seasons. In the unlikely event I don’t get any electrical work whatsoever you can be sure I will find work in the gardens and if it is raining I will be working indoors, if I am up to it!
I didn’t have to do any work in the top room and as the weather was so warm and sunny on Tuesday I didn’t. Well that was until three o’clock. I was feeling much better on the day, my aches and pains in my back had gone and the urinary infection was well under control. The sun shone almost all day long and both E and myself spent most of the day in the garden especially relaxing on the patio on the new furniture. We ate indoors however and returned outside afterward. E wanted to do some weeding out in the flowerbeds and she started doing that after lunch when for an hour or so the sky went dark as the clouds drifted by. I went indoors for something and the urge to go upstairs and do a little work got the better of me and I set about doing some minor repairs to the door frame (casing) and on the door itself. I began removing the lock because it wasn’t operating properly but it took me over half an hour to get it out of the door. The first problem was to remove the strike plate. On modern locks this is usually not very thick but this lock was an old one and the plate was about 4mm thick. Over the years the fixing screws had been filled-in and painted over and were difficult to locate. After I had removed the door knobs (they were actually knobs and not handles as shown in the diagram) I was able to remove the spindle allowing the lock to slide out of the door. It was so tight it wouldn’t budge but it wasn’t simply stuck with age, it had been filled-in with some wood filler. The lock was similar to the one shown but longer, that is it went deeper into the door. It had both the latch bolt and dead bolt fitted and the dead bolt had originally been operated with a key. The dead lock hadn’t been used for years, long before we moved in, and the keyholes had been filled with wood filler which had found its way into the lock itself through the keyholes. It effectively prevented the lock’s easy removal. I eventually dug out the filler and slowly withdrew the lock. I will be fitting a new one that is only fitted with a latch bolt as a dead bolt isn’t required. After I had done that work I carried out the repair to the casing by inserting a block of wood where the fitting of an old Yale lock above the other door lock had left a gap in the frame when I removed it months ago. Again, I had to fill-in the gaps with wood filler ready for sanding down and painting later. That all took an hour and a half and my need to do something in the room no matter how small had been satisfied. Sometimes these little tasks can hold the other work back. Now we can carry on with the decorating when the urge presents itself! Both E and I are reluctant to work indoors whilst the sun is shining. E had stayed outside removing weeds and had done quite a lot while I had been inside.