I had missed my early morning walk on Friday because of a doctor’s appointment so instead I spent time on the treadmill, the cycling machine and especially the cross-trainer. Over the three machines I covered a couple of miles and with other daily chores following later I was tired by bedtime and slept through seven hours. Now as you may already know I seldom get more than five or so hours of continuous sleep. It was Saturday morning, a little windy but dry and sunny and it would have been ideal for taking a walk only for the fact I had something else to do. During the day on Friday I chanced to see there was a slight leak of water on the floor inside the airing cupboard in the upstairs bathroom. It appeared to be coming from a ball valve on one of the heating pipes to the radiator outside.
The problem had been brought about by own mistake in fitting the ball valves in the first place when I was installing the new bathroom a couple of years ago. I had removed the easier to reach valve over a year ago and thought the other would hopefully not be a problem for it was situated in a very awkward place at the rear of the airing cupboard. In the picture below you can see the replacement straight-through connector I somehow managed or rather struggled to fit. The hand tools were either too small or too long to manoeuvre in the confined space but I did it!
You can see the old and original wooden skirting board (white) in front of which is the narrow pipe, The joint in the middle of the section of pipe is where the valve had been but is now replaced with the connector. You can also see that the wooden floor is wet due to the leak and it had in fact travelled down the wall into the kitchen below and loosened some of the wallpaper there. That can be easily repaired but will probably shrink back into place. In the effort to reach the pipe some of the lagging jacket around the hot water storage tank was damaged. The heat eventually breaks down the plastic covering so it is easily broken if handled too much. Did I tell you I hate plumbing? That by the way is a sort of ongoing joke in this blog as I have done an awful lot of plumbing at home and there is always, almost without exception a minor leak after I have done the work! This time however I bucked the trend for a change. Of course before I could do any of the work I had to shut off the water supply to the ‘header’ tank up in the loft and then drain off some of the water from the system down in the boiler room. Having re-instated the supply later I had to go around all the upstairs radiators to bleed off any trapped air. It all takes time and the bathroom radiator part of the circuit was difficult to rid of air. At the top of the house are three radiators of which one had been blocked in by my son’s stored furniture. All that had to be moved to gain access to the radiator. I had started the work soon after seven o’clock and finished four hours later. So much for taking an early morning walk!
I spent almost all day on Friday (12 th) on and off working in the utility room in the cellar. The current work in there is installing the new sink and cabinet unit and the associated plumbing. My first task was to connect the sink to the hot and cold water supply pipes which I had already installed a couple of days earlier. It was a little awkward but I finally did it. After a snack around ten o’clock I continued the plumbing by installing the drains but before I could do that I had to drive to the plumbers’ merchant to purchase the pipes. Those we had purchased as part of the sink/drainer package were useless and unnecessarily involved. Even if I had wanted to use them I would still have had to purchase more accessories to connect to the house drain.
The bottle trap (white), the black pipe with elbow replaced six elements which would have been used with the ones supplied and would still not have reached the grey pipe and even be fifteen cm below it! The copper pipes on the left are the hot and cold water supplies. Naturally there were a couple of minor leaks but they were remote from the sink where I had connected to the existing pipework. They were soon rectified. Later in the afternoon I had a very difficult and awkward task of fixing the sink.drainer to the underside of the wooden worktop using the special clips provided. For that work I had to call E for assistance to hold down the sink whilst I fitted the clips. I have never seen such badly designed clips and they made what should have been an easy task into one which took far too long to do. I actually used two of my own design in a couple of places which took only seconds to fit because the others wouldn’t fit in.
I then fitted the shelf (bottom picture) but left the doors for another day. I moved the two small fridges and freezer into the cellar hallway to free up the space in readiness for the next stage as I move around the room.
Work will continue along the wall to the left. See future posts.
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.
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.
I often talk about putting off doing jobs or part of them until later or the next day. Throughout the time I have been refurbishing and redecorating the small lounge I have relented on my decisions to put things off until later and have done them sooner than I said I would. I simply cannot stand around knowing something needs doing and not doing something about it. As I write this on Thursday evening the small lounge lies empty and ready for the carpet to be laid on Friday morning. All the work that needed to be done to reach this point has been done, even the connection of the new radiator.
In yesterday’s post I said I would leave off connecting the radiator on its right-hand side as that would have meant draining down the system but this morning I just got on with it and drained the system. First of all I removed the radiator from the wall and painted the supporting wood work I had fitted the previous day. While the paint was drying (about a half-hour) I began tidying up the room and then drained the pipes. This radiator is connected at the bottom on both sides and the right side needed cutting back with a small length of pipe added to reach the radiator as the radiator is slightly smaller than the one I removed. When I finally attempted to refill the system nothing happened. The storage water tank at the top of the house had a blockage in the pipe. You have to remember the house is four stories high if you include the cellar so constantly having to climb the stairs is really tiring. Anyway the system filled and it was time to bleed out any air from all the radiators. I have no doubt I will have to pay special attention to the bathroom towel rail which always gives me problems after a drain-down. That will have to wait. So the room is empty as I write….
I managed to assemble the new floor standing lamp and replace the fitted 13 amp plug with a 5 amp plug as the lamp will be plugged into one of the several 5 amp sockets in the room. They are all switched from one of the three switches by the door. This means any lamps plugged into the 5 amp sockets can be switched on entry to the room. The added advantage of this system is the sockets are on a separate circuit breaker from the ceiling and wall-mounted lights. Incidentally at this point in time I haven’t replaced the two wall lights as I am thinking of purchasing new ones to match the floor lamp and maybe a couple of table lamps too. We’ll see.
I drove off to the retail store to purchase three LED bulbs for the floor lamp and a couple of door knobs to fit to the cabinet. Driving back I was praying and thanking God for supplying me in my need, I am always thanking and praising God by the way, and I was thinking out loud that I could do with some electrical work to help fund my projects. Thirty seconds later my phone rang and it was someone asking for my services! I thanked God and drove to the house. Following that small job I went to the pub for lunch. It was three o’clock and I hadn’t eaten since seven. I didn’t want to stand cooking, I’d had enough for one day though I did fit the two door knobs when I returned home later.
Why is it that something goes wrong just at the wrong time? Talking about the leaking radiator in yesterday’s post it was now a case of do or die, I chose to do. I had to wait in for the guy to install the curtains and he didn’t arrive until eleven-thirty. He finished by one o’clock but as he was working I had to point out two things that were wrong , first the rail dipped in the middle and second the wood packing beneath the right-hand side bracket was longer than those beneath the other two. He was going to leave it that way until I insisted he did something about it. In the end I took the packing into the cellar and cut it to the right size for him and provided a thick washer to place beneath the centre bracket to straighten out the dip. The company booklet tells us that they employ professional installers who have years of experience. I guess the guy they should have sent wasn’t feeling well on the day! Incidentally the organisation doesn’t provide their workforce with ready-made spacers which considering they are often needed is not good practice. I should have been able to leave him to do the work and find a quality job when it was finished. That wouldn’t have been the case had I not stepped in. Anyway he left at one and a little later the radiator was delivered minutes before the new floor-standing lamp arrived. At the time of writing the lamp is still sealed in its box as I hadn’t the time to open it. I had a quick-lunch then drove off to the supplier who had delivered the radiator as I wanted to ask them a couple of questions regarding the connections. Having discussed what was needed I purchased the items for around £12 and drove back home. I spent a couple of hours trying to decide which way I could support the three radiator brackets because the shape of the skirting board made fitting them difficult. I managed to fit them and temporarily hang the radiator on them, even temporarily connecting it to the left-hand valve. Unfortunately the right-hand pipe and valve are too far away at this stage to connect them too. Added to that, the valve needs to moved to the lower position for the new radiator requires that way of connection. That will mean a complete drain-down of the system in order to cut the pipe and fit the connections. You can see in this picture taken at the end of the day.
I would be dropping the radiator the next day to enable the painting of the wood work supporting the radiator’s brackets and then replacing the radiator and making the left-hand connection permanent in the process. The other connection will have to wait until I get time to drain the system, something I am not looking forward to because refilling it can be a nightmare getting the air out in places. In any event it will take all day, perhaps two to do that work. The last time I drained the system down was when I installed the towel radiator in the wet room last year and at that time I carried out some minor alterations to pipes to make bleeding out the air easier. Maybe it will be so this time. The carpet fitter would arrive on Friday morning so I had to clear out the lounge on Thursday too. Happy days.
I took the short walk of about a half-mile to the doctor’s surgery on Tuesday morning to have my blood pressure checked and to arrange a repeat prescription. Actually the doctor presses a couple of keys on the keyboard to place the order at the local pharmacy and about three days later I collect my prescription. It has been a few years since it was all done on paper and the patient took the prescription to the pharmacy themselves. That done I walked back home for my belated breakfast just before nine o’clock. The morning was supposed to occupy my time clearing out the lounge of paint cans, brushes and all the other paraphernalia associated with decorating but it didn’t work out quite that way. Yes, I did clear out the room but in the process I noticed a small brown stain at the bottom of the radiator near-to but not where the lower valve was. In a recent post I mentioned there being a small leak on the valve connection but I had solved that problem, this was a short distance away. I wiped it clean and felt for the presence of water and there was an extremely slight amount. I wiped that away and it appeared again. The radiator was showing the first sign of corrosion. It meant a replacement but first I had to drain it down and avoid spoiling the decorations doing it. I set everything up and released any pressure using the bleed valve beforehand. The mess was kept to a minimum and it was just as well that the new carpet hadn’t been laid for some dirty water ended up on the floor. The old underlay absorbed most of it but that will be getting replaced when the carpet is fitted. I struggled a little but I managed to get the radiator outside and parked it near the entrance to the garage for disposal later. Now I had a space where the radiator had been and brackets fitted to the wall and skirting board which most likely wouldn’t be suitable for use with the replacement radiator. I decided to go and purchase a new one immediately but the store didn’t have the size I wanted (about 6 ft x 2 ft) in stock but they would deliver one the following day which was fine. I wanted to at least fix the new one to the wall before the carpet was laid and if I couldn’t do the plumbing immediately I could do it later. I would have to drain down the whole system if it was not possible to connect the radiator without altering the pipework. I would only discover that during the fitting of the radiator. The new radiator cost me £88. It was now well after two o’clock and I went to the pub for my lunch. The following day would hopefully be better.
On the face of it I would have little to do on Wednesday but I was eager to do something to support the progress in the small lounge. All the decorating was done so it was down to getting the other things out-of-the-way. One of those was to refit the radiator and I did that first. All seemed to be fine with that once I had bled out the air to prevent it circulating and finding its way to the upper rooms. I raised the room thermostat to test it under operating conditions for a while before throttling back on the thermostat. The day, even that early in the morning, was warm and the heating didn’t need to be on. I moved to the coffee table and placed it back on its legs after I had painted the underside the previous day and sanded down the top surface. I then painted it again and touched-up the paint on the radiator where I had missed when painting it the day before. It was then that I noticed some water on the floor at the base of one of the supply pipes, the lower connection was leaking! It never fails does it? I try my best but sometimes it isn’t good enough. The radiator was now full of water so slackening off the connection would result in more water escaping, much more. Why couldn’t it be the top connection which wouldn’t leak out much water once the valves were closed? It had to be the lower connection didn’t it? Anyway the problem as I saw it was not the fitting (valve) itself but grit trapped between the surfaces preventing a water-tight seal. With that in mind I slackened off the connection, the one on the right of the valve body with no paint on it and actually part of the radiator and re-tightened it a few times to allow the water to flush out anything that might be there. It worked but I checked it out a few times during the morning just to be certain. I had nothing further left to do but wait for the delivery of the piece of furniture I had bought the day before. It wouldn’t arrive until the afternoon so a visit to the pub was out of the question. You will know now that soon after the cabinet was delivered yesterday I had it coated with the primer. It was a gloriously sunny and warm day on Wednesday, ideal to sit out on the patio, if I could be tempted!
Work on the redecorating of the small lounge took a slight detour on Wednesday because I went to install a replacement cooker hob for someone. The job was easy enough but I ended up chatting with the woman for longer than perhaps I should have. Still I was back home after an hour and a half ready to do something in the lounge. Now that the ceiling and frieze are completed I decided to make use of the tower whilst it was in the room in order to clean the chandelier. Although it hadn’t been cleaned for years it was not that bad. However it didn’t compare to its condition after I had cleaned it! It is a five-light unit with lead crystal glass decorations, quite an expensive light when we bought it from the previous owner of the house and no doubt probably more so if bought today. It is one of the reasons I am loathed to replace it, the other being that I like it, it goes with the house.
That took me an hour. The next task was to empty and remove the radiator to allow decoration behind it and to repaint it later before refitting it. Refitting it will be far easier than it was to drain and remove, especially as I have no assistance.
I wanted to do more work after lunch but decided against it. The following morning I was expecting the council team to take away the old furniture and they could possibly arrive as early as six-thirty which meant an early night for me. I was also expecting the representative who would be measuring up for the new curtains. After he would be finished I proposed to roll up the old carpet and underlay.
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 was sitting at home on Monday morning not expecting any calls for my electrical services mainly because I had cancelled my advert the previous Wednesday for the week. I mentioned in a post that it might not prevent my getting calls and indeed I had two jobs at the end of the week. Anyway I got a call on Monday on behalf of a former customer whose shower unit had sprung a leak. I arrived there about fifteen minutes later and attempted to secure the leak but discovered it wasn’t possible to gain a permanent repair. The lady was keen to simply have the unit replaced so I invited her along to purchase one. She is the type of person who takes an interest in things electrical or mechanical and she wanted to get involved with the replacement but there was little she could do aside from handing me the tools though I did give her a small job to do. Soon the new unit was fitted and working and I was on my way back home. It was too early for lunch so I watched a little television. E was busy in her new ‘workshop’, the top room we had refurbished recently. I had arisen very early and consequently had an early breakfast so I decided to have my lunch, it was one o’clock. E didn’t eat until around two o’clock and soon after she went out for a couple of hours. Having nothing special in mind to do, though there are plans afoot in the garden, I made a coffee and sat out on the patio but soon got bored so I wandered around and ended up at the ‘mound’ (see previous posts or search the word). Since reconstructing and developing that corner of the garden a couple of years ago numerous stones have appeared on top of the soil. This is quite normal where stones are present in the soil mass, even if they are quite deep under the soil. The smallest particles always get washed down to the bottom of any pile eventually and therefore the largest stones are systematically ‘pushed’ upwards until they arrive at the top. If you have the time to read the posts I wrote in the early summer of 2014 you will understand why the soil was so full of stones in the first place. There were even pieces of glass, slate and metal in among the original composition. Much of those things were filtered out as best as we could do at the time but not all of it. This is why we have stones still appearing on the soil. I put on a pair of gloves and with a trowel and a large bucket in hand I set about collecting as many as I could find both on the surface and beneath. It didn’t take too long before the bucket got filled. I plan to fill more of the empty spaces with plants and perhaps one or two more stone slabs of which we still have plenty. All the natural stone in and around the mound and in the flowerbeds in both the rear and front gardens were dug out of the original much larger mound that filled that corner of the garden in 2014. Having cleared away the stones my attention was drawn to the variegated holly tree that I had rescued from the jungle that had surrounded it in December (see post on 10th) last year. At that time the holly was leaning far to its right trying to reach daylight and after clearing the surrounding trees I propped it up to encourage it to grow more vertically. Well it has begun to straighten up but to encourage it further I removed the now redundant old prop and fitted a new one which is applying more force. I did the same thing with another variegated holly further along the same flowerbed a few years ago and which stands tall, full and erect. It was time to water the garden, especially all the new plants which need that extra attention until they are fully established. I was happy that my day had ended up anything else but wasted and I’d had something to do.