I mean, why would we need a new boiler – the old one worked well enough. OK, so the pump screamed occasionally – and the pipes knocked alarmingly when trapped air passed through them. Sometimes the radiators were hot enough to take the skin off your hands – and sometimes they would barely warm. But the system worked after a fashion. Still, we’ve just moved in – we’re doing the place up – so we thought we’d get it sorted out now rather than later.

The planning phase went well. We found a wonderful plumber. Yes, I know those are two words that are rarely seen in the same sentence, but it’s true. A local man with his own company. We agreed the price, paid the deposit and left for a two week business trip.

We were smug when friends said we were taking a risk. We wouldn’t be there during the work – but we would come home to a nice new system and a warm house.

At the start of the second week, we had a call. Our wonderful plumber had been in bed with flu and was only just starting. But not to worry – he’d have most of it done before we got home. It was the word ‘most’ that worried us a little.

When we got home, we found all the radiator values had been replaced with thermostatic ones, as per latest regulations. So, we can now control the temperature in all the rooms separately. However, the old boiler was still sitting like a malevolent presence in the corner of the utility room.

We lost our heating the following week – right in the middle of a cold snap. For three days, we sat huddled over a hot air blower, a tiny island of luke warm air in our huge ice-box of a house. We piled on extra clothing and waited. For one whole day, the water was switched off. The irony of buying a house with three loos and being unable to use any of them!

Finally, the new boiler was in and the water turned back on. The water pressure, previously quite low, is now much higher. So high it can pin you to the back of the shower cubicle. So high, all the air has gone from the system and the pipes sit contentedly full of hot water. So high, it blew one of the fittings in the wall in the bedroom. I returned home to a frantic plumber, resigned husband and a mini Niagara flowing through the ceiling into the newly renovated kitchen.

Yesterday we found another leak – in the celing over the bathroom. Actually, we didn’t find it – it found us. It rained down on one of the ladies I’d booked to blitz the house after all the work had been done. She bravely continued working as water dripped on her. Lying on the landing floor, burrowing under the insulation in the loft, I found a small copper pipe from which water was spurting. Our plumber tells us it is most unusual for holes to develop in the middle of a pipe. He’s fixed it. The system works. We’re holding our breath – but at least we can no longer see our breath – and the house is really toasty at last.
By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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