Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Hot Water

Can there be anything worse that not having hot water for a week in the middle of Winter? What about ... no water?

I have been on leave since last Wednesday and this is what my week was like:

I like steaming hot showers, especially at this time of the year. However, the water was luke-warm, which I thought was because the dishwasher was running. Wrong! By the time Tony had a shower the water was cold.
Our first day with no hot water. I placed a call with a plumbing and electrical services company to fix the hot water and also clear our drains. (Clay pipes and tree roots are not a good combination. We were having problems with blocked drains so this was a perfect time to "kill two birds with one stone"). Spent half an hour boiling up saucepans and jugs of waters so we could have a couple of inches of water in the bath tub.
Matt, the plumber, arrives. He spends practically the whole morning cutting roots out of our pipes. I become the plumber's apprentice, flushing toilets and turning on taps so Matt can check whether the pipes are clear. He shows me all the tree roots in our sewer line and the old access holes, and armed with what looks like a bulbous gun from some sci-fi movie, tracks the path of our sewer line right beneath the concrete slabs of our bedroom, the parents' retreat and the back room.

The hot water system requires new parts that need to be ordered but someone will be out first thing Monday to install them. Luckily, we're going to Mum and Dad's for dinner so we grab a shower there.

I put a load in the washing machine and 20 minutes later we're flooded again. The water from the sink is still overflowing from the floor waste. I place another call with the plumbing company but as it is not urgent, we will not have anyone until Monday. The main sewer line might be clear but there is still a blockage somewhere. Later that night, we spend another half hour boiling water for a bath.
As part of our get fit campaign, we're walking every Sunday. So, we pop over to Mum and Dad's, do a 4km walk and then use the shower.
Oscar turns up to install the new hot water parts but Matt is sick so cannot come and look at the laundry drains. Because we have off-peak hot water, the water heats overnight. So, it's another round of boiling water for a bath.
No hot water!

Matt is back and discovers there's tree roots in the branch to the laundry. The drains are too narrow for him to clear by hand and because the branch is so angular, it is likely the electric eel will get stuck. Undaunted he pours a chemical down the drains to kill the roots and uses an old-fashion, manual eel to cut through roots. There is much gasping and swearing, then a jubilant cry as a large root ball is cut and the laundry sink starts flowing again.

An electrician comes at the end of the day to check the hot water system. The problem seems to be the off-peak metering but the meters can only be touched by the electricity network suppliers. It's late so that's a call for tomorrow.

Another bath!

I call our electricity network supplier and report a possible problem with our off-peak metering. Mid-afternoon an electrician arrives. He confirms that there is a problem and sets up a bypass so that our hot water system can start heating again. Give it four hours he says.

Tony gets home. I'm washing up but the water is only luke warm. He walks into our bedroom and finds a flood in the ensuite. A pipe has burst and there is hot water gushing out from under the vanity and flowing across the floor into our newly cleared drains. We turn off the water at the main valve so we now have no water!

Desperate for a shower, we turn the water back on and discover that the torrent in the ensuite stops if the water is running in the main bathroom. First hot shower in a week!

Matt calls. He can't believe he's just been assigned to come to our house again. He replaces the flexible hose but our ensuite is a mess. Everything from under the vanity is either on the counter or on the floor. But luxury—another hot shower, albeit, in the main bathroom.
I've been cleaning out our personal disaster zone: throwing out sodden articles, hanging out bandages to dry, and putting electrical appliances outside in the sun. I went to have a shower in the main bathroom tonight and ... the cold tap is broken.

I'm back at work on Monday. I'm just not sure how I'm going to answer that inevitable question: "How was your break?"


  1. I spent at least 6 years and countless hours trying to find, unlock and decipher your diaries and now here it is open to the world ... you could at least make it a little challenging ...

  2. blog n. “a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption” - Definitions.
    Doesn't mean that you've found what you've been looking for. ;-)


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