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.
As I write this on Friday afternoon I have had no more requests for my electrical services since Monday which has enabled me to get on with tasks at home. This week’s advert is not being published at my own request so that I can have a break. It may be however that I will get offers of work between now (Friday) and the middle of this week (Wednesday) when the weekly newspaper is distributed. The advertisement is printed in each Wednesday’s paper. Anyhow the way I am feeling just at the moment I think a break will be nice. Again as I write this on Friday I have not long completed the installation of a new towel radiator in the wet room downstairs…..(click on images to magnify)
I confess it may look as though little work has been done but much of the work was carried out in the little room in the cellar which is directly below the wet room. If my readers will remember that during this past week or so I drained down the heating system in order to fit new radiator valves in various rooms in the house and at the same time I altered a pipe supplying the towel rail/radiator in the main bathroom (fitting a valve to aid in venting off any air trapped in one section of pipe). I also was able to fit two gate valves in the pipework in the room beneath the wet room so that I wouldn’t need to drain the system again to install the above radiator. The radiator does have its own valves too and they are located at each side at the bottom just above floor level. The work took me four hours this morning (Friday) as I was working at a leisurely pace. During that time the joiner (carpenter) I had asked to supply and fit a new door to the top room called to see what was involved, (See yesterday’s post). He hopes to do the job early this week, probably today, Tuesday, if all goes well. In the meantime the fridge/freezer will hopefully have been repaired as the engineer was due to call on Saturday and the carpet should have been fitted yesterday too. I’ll let you know if everything was done in tomorrow’s post. After I had replaced the valves and refilled the heating system a few days ago the towel rail in the main bathroom didn’t get hot or even warm when I tested the system. When it was first installed we had the same problem and I put it down to air in the pipes. Eventually we got it working at that time and we’ve had no further problems since then until this drain down session which is why I installed the valve to vent any air manually in one particular section of pipe where it was likely to be. During the test I had most of the house radiators opened wide so I am thinking the bathroom radiator was being starved of pressure. Some time in the near future I will check it again as I should have plenty of time on my hands. At this very moment all I want to do is nothing!
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.
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 spend more time at home these days and far less at my electrical business but I am almost never idle when at home. It is about that time when we can switch off the central heating system, though if it were only myself to consider it would have been switched off long ago. E feels the cold more than I do so it had to stay on just that little bit longer. The reason I want it off is so I can work on the system changing radiator valves, fitting a towel rail in the wet room and carrying out an alteration to pipes in the airing cupboard in the bathroom. All the jobs are individually simple and not time-consuming though it will take time to do them all. Before that work was undertaken I intended to get the artificial lawn laid on the patio. On Wednesday morning at around eight o’clock the front door bells sounded, it was the guys delivering the artificial turf. I wasn’t dressed and there was no way I would be answering the door. E however doesn’t bother about such things and she answered the door in her dressing gown. After breakfast I called the guy who would be fitting it just to let him know it was here. He called later to look at it as he has to source a suitable adhesive. At the time of writing he hasn’t set a date for doing it though he did say he might do it soon whilst the weather is good. Meanwhile I sprinkled some soda and water over the patio floor where moss had spread itself thinly in one part in order to kill it off. Later I was able to brush most of it away but had to resort to getting on my hands and knees with a steel wire brush to remove the stubborn bits. I also used a gas torch to burn some of it but finally it was clean and ready for the adhesive. I did some work around one of the rainwater grids which took some time. Basically I removed the plastic cover and set in place an open metal grating instead. Earlier in the year I had heavily pruned back the two main apple trees and had temporarily stowed away the branches. E and I got the wood chipping machine out and set it up to chip the branches. It is the yellow and black machine in this picture below. Nearby stands an old ‘Aqua Vac’ in red and grey which we had stored up in a small attic space at the top of the house. It is damaged but usable and though it can now only be used for vacuuming up water it may come in handy for vacuuming rainwater off the artificial turf when it is laid. Summer showers happen don’t they? The picture also shows the petrol mower in yellow, an electric mower in turquoise behind it, a cement mixer in blue, a wheelbarrow and hidden behind them another electric mower and strimmer. The artificial turf lies rolled up in the foreground waiting to be fitted.Anyway E had to go out later and I took over chipping up the branches. We got quite a lot of wood chippings which we bagged for use in the garden. Amongst some of the other things we did was to take out the carpet and mattress from the garage ready for collection the next day by the council waste disposal team. We were both very tired having spent many hours working throughout the day.
I have noticed how fast things are happening in the garden lately. We didn’t have much of a winter in that although it was cold it wasn’t as cold as it perhaps should have been, in fact it was warmer than expected. Now Spring is here the garden has sprung into life at quite a pace. This weekend, beginning on Friday, the weather turned cold again for a few days but I doubt it will have slowed things down. I have mowed the lawn twice and already it looks as though it will need cutting again soon. The problem, if it is a problem, is that I have been a little under pressure trying to get on with our bedroom projects whilst trying to find time to do a few things around the garden too. I have spent a little time in the greenhouse ‘potting on’ some plants and tending others. Having a garden is a nice thing but they do need attention else they revert to the wild and faster than you think. I am never really short of having something to do around this house of ours though sometimes I feel the pressure and simply want to take a break from it all. I keep telling myself I will take a holiday but never seem to get around to having one. Even finding a little time to sit out on the patio once in a while just now would be good but with the projects we have and the weather changes it isn’t always possible. Hopefully the bedroom we are currently working in will be finished soon, however I do have to find time to service our heating system. Many months ago I purchased a lot of radiator valves because so many in the house need replacing. I have to drain down the system to do that work and it will also give me the opportunity to install pipes to supply a towel rail/radiator in the wet room at the same time. Only a few days work and it can be done anytime before the system is needed later in the year fortunately. Knowing me though it will get done far sooner than that.
Not really……I had but a relatively small and easy job to do on Tuesday morning as I planned to dine out with E during the afternoon. The job was in a house about seven miles away and it entailed replacing some ordinary plastic power outlets and lighting switches for gold-effect metal ones, probably about an hour and a half’s work at most. When I arrived the lady of the house apologised for the fact that her central heating wasn’t working and thus the house wasn’t too comfortable to be in. I found it a little cool but certainly not cold and uncomfortable but of course I would be moving about whilst working which would keep me warm enough. She had called out the maintenance engineer but he wouldn’t arrive for at least another hour or so. I offered a quick glance at the heating set-up but no fault was immediately obvious. The problem was that the boiler wouldn’t fire up even though everything electrical was calling for heat. Naturally I didn’t investigate any further as it wasn’t my place to do so. I learned later from the engineer that although I could hear the water pump operating inside the boiler (the boiler requires water flowing before it will fire-up) there was a water flow problem elsewhere, evidently up in the loft area as that is where the engineer spent most of his time. I had other things to do but just as I had finished my work the lady asked if it was possible to install an extra power outlet in the front porch area. I had a quick look and gave her a revised price to do it there and then. She accepted my quote and so I got on with the work. It took a mere half hour. The extra work wasn’t expected but of course most welcome. It paid for our meal later, tip included! I was back at home before noon. E asked where we were going to dine and as usual I replied that we would dine at the venue of her choice but first of all she wanted to make a detour to see the office she had to visit on Friday. She has to be interviewed in regard to her application for what is known in this country as a ‘blue badge‘. Having a blue badge displayed inside a vehicle allows the driver some privileged parking and is designed for use by those who have a physical disability of some sort. I hope she is successful in her application as she really needs it. We drove onward to her chosen destination and had our meal though I have to say I was a little disappointed with the whole experience. Sometimes things go that way. Small things can spoil an otherwise enjoyable experience can’t they? I cannot grumble so I don’t…….ahem! The heating had been switched off but was soon restored once I pointed it out. Now there’s a coincidence! My chosen meal could have been better but at least it was all paid for by working that extra half-hour.
I had Thursday all mapped out as free time for myself as I had no electrical work scheduled that day. I didn’t stop in bed however and was sitting having my breakfast well before nine o’clock. I spent a little time on my computer and around about ten o’clock there was someone at the front door ringing the bell. I went to see who it was and found that it was the men from the environment agency contractor come to survey our waste water systems and pipework. We had been expecting them to call a couple of weeks earlier but they told us there were thousands of properties in our area to survey/ They had called previously but we weren’t at home. I opened one of the garages to allow them access to the rear of the house and answered a couple of questions asked of me. Unfortunately I then received a call to do a small electrical job, one of three jobs I was asked to do that morning. I made arrangements to do the other jobs a few days later but in the meantime just attended the one. I was back home an hour before lunch which for me is around one o’clock. E goes out on Thursday afternoons to do the weekly shopping with her mum so I was left at home alone once more. I couldn’t bear the boredom so I made inroads to building a step in the boiler room which we have been threatening to do for years but never seemed to get around to actually doing it. Here is a picture of the preliminary work I did… The existing white step is quite deep as the boiler room floor is sunk relative to all the other cellar room floors which are all at the same level. We have never understood why this should be so as it is an original floor and was laid many years before the house had central heating. The central heating boiler is in this room and I suppose if there was a major leak the sunken floor would act as a reservoir. I don’t think it was laid with that in mind. Anyhow I laid some bricks as you can see and once they have set I will fill in the resulting space behind them with hard-core and cement both of which we have plenty. By the time you read this that may well be done. I have spoken about re-lagging the central heating pipes of which there are many down in the cellar rooms. Here are a couple of pictures to show what we have done thus far, there being much more to do yet as we haven’t purchased the insulation to date. I explained about that in a previous post. I hope to purchase what we need shortly. It is all about the cost of course and disposable income.
The grey insulation is that which we have fitted, the black and any other coloured insulation is still to be replaced and of course there are one or two sections of bare pipes to lag too! The next-to-last picture shows the new heating pump supplying the heat for the water storage tank upstairs in the bathroom which I installed last week. You may also notice that the heating system is being controlled by a ‘Sangamo’ time switch on the extreme left of the picture, a mechanical device which is very reliable. I have left it in circuit quite deliberately for that reason. Electronic controls are far less reliable and in fact are not necessary for the type of installation we have. On the left-hand-side out of sight in this same picture is the central heating pump. Compare picture number five with the last picture and see how the old insulation around the pipes has been vastly improved. Picture number four shows the continuation of the same pipes in picture number two from the boiler room to the laundry room (the one with the freezers in it!). Slowly things are improving in the cellar rooms and now that we have had the survey I can decide what alterations I need to undertake if any with the drain pipes. That is for the future though.
So what happened on Friday? The first thing we had to do was to re-route that pipe I was talking about. I had thought it was simply an expansion pipe for the indirect heating coil within the hot water cylinder which in fact it was but it is indirectly connected to the central heating system through the boiler. I had therefore to partly drain the central heating system down before I could alter the pipe. I got wet finding out the system wasn’t as simple as I had first thought! I couldn’t raise the ceiling until this one pipe was moved out-of-the-way. Once the system was drained I set about bending pipes and fitting new pieces until I had it finally out-of-the-way then I re-instated the central heating. After a quick-lunch I was back in the bathroom. E had to do the weekly shopping with her mum. She left off doing it on Boxing day even though Thursday is the day she usually does the shopping. I spent the afternoon dismantling the ceiling timbers and rigging three of the existing four lights to a higher position temporarily whilst the work continues. They were mounted on the now removed ceiling. I will be installing new recessed LED units as I did in the wet room. Once I have purchased new timber and plasterboard I can rebuild the ceiling 400-500mm higher. That won’t happen until the coming week of course when the builders merchants can deliver the materials. In the meantime I have other work to be carrying on with.
On Thursday morning whilst making a Cappuccino with our new machine we noticed water dripping from the inside when we used the steamer. Of course we couldn’t take it apart to see what was wrong as it was under guarantee so we packed it in its original packaging and drove to ‘Curry’s’ where we had purchased it only a few days before and had it replaced. So far the replacement has been working fine. I wonder just how many units turn out to be faulty in some way or is it just my bad luck to get the one in a few thousand that turn out that way? I am getting quite the expert at making Cappuccino now. Over the years E and I have bought a few coffee percolators but never really got into the habit of using them and they have been consigned to the cupboard.The coffee machine is not likely to end up the same way!
I had invited a local plumber round on Monday morning to look at the possibility of fitting a larger drain-off pipe to make draining down the central heating pipes faster. I need to drain it down to enable me to disconnect old pipes that fed a radiator and connect the two new ones I have already installed for a new radiator in a different position. He arrived not longer after I had returned from doing a small job for someone and we discussed my requirements. He made a suggestion, actually the very idea I had in mind already and he went to the local plumbers merchant to buy what was needed. On his return fifteen minutes later we discovered that the parts he was going to use would not fit. The problem is that the old pipework is an Imperial size (that is measurements in inches) but all new pipework and fittings are Metric sizes. There are special reducers for connecting the different sizes together and I already knew this having changed our hot water cylinder about fifteen years ago when the other one sprang a leak. It is possible to break into the pipes I wanted to connect the drain to but the system would need draining to do even that! After some debate we both decided not to bother with that at this stage but perhaps leave any alterations until the summer when the heating is not in use. In the meantime I am resigned to using the existing 15mm drain connection situated on the boiler itself to partially drain the system down to the point where I will be connecting the new pipes. That means draining down two whole floors of radiators and pipes which might take some time. At least I know now where I stand. As the guy hadn’t done any work except removing the blank end from the existing tee piece where I had hoped to fit the larger drain-off pipe (and may do at a later time) to check the size, he only charged me £25 for his time. I gave him £30 for his time and advice, it was worth it. I think he was rather surprised though to be confronted by a female electrician who knows quite a bit about plumbing. So it was lunch time and I was about to prepare something when I got a call for a job. It more than paid for the money I gave to the plumber and soon I was back home. After lunch E went out shopping with her mum again, this time for Christmas presents and while she was out I sorted out some 10mm plywood from the various sheets we have stored in one of the garages and cut it to size for fitting on one side of the new studding I constructed in the bathroom a couple of days ago. I took it upstairs and fitted it. I wanted to use plywood on the shower side of the wall to make fitting the shower itself easier. I won’t have to worry about getting a good fixing to the wall as it will be entirely made of wood! I don’t need to fit plywood on the other side but may do so anyway as it will make the wall sturdier than it would be if I used plaster board. I have plenty of plywood in storage. I am thoroughly enjoying this part of the project as I love working with wood and constructing things with it.