Friday, 4 December 2015

Home maintenance

We had Erin Mae out for five months this year. A great adventure! But it meant that certain things off the boat had been left for five months without our care and attention. First up was the car. But, as I reported when we got back to base, the solar panel had done its job and, after a moment of uncertainty, the car woke up and behaved perfectly.

The house was generally fine and we'd arranged for some visits by various people, to cover the niceties of the insurance. But, shortly after getting home, we realised that the downstairs toilet, while flushing OK, was gurgling a bit. Some drain research was in order. Removing one of the manhole covers revealed some water that was not draining away as fast as it should. At this point I benefited from maintaining friendly relations with the college down the road where I worked for 25 years before retirement. A quick phone-call to check, and I was able to go in and borrow their rods, which soon resolved the problem. It wasn't a major blockage – but presumably five months of not very much flow had provided an opportunity for some sludge to build up. So I did the home maintenance equivalent of dredging.

Finally there was the gas hob. Three burners were working fine, one was doing nothing at all – not even smelling a bit. So today Mike the gasman came and poked around. A jet was blocked and his poking mostly cleared it. But I was puzzled about where a blockage could come from. What could possibly be emerging from the gas-pipe that could do that? Mike, with his years of experience, pointed out the dust that had been expelled, and philosophised about the wisdom of the gas people no longer putting filters in the places where they'd been installed for the past 100 years until someone decided they weren't necessary any more. He also said that, if he hadn't been able to fix it with a bit of poking, it wouldn't be cost effective to do a proper repair – it would be cheaper to buy a new hob.

I reckon we got off pretty lightly, given our five months of inattention. But I'm not sure there's much we could do differently next year, apart from finding a friendly neighbour to come in once a week to flush the loo and burn a bit of gas.

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