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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Thursday, 23 December 2004

Pre-Christmas plumbing.

It felt good only to work three days this week, although it didn't help much that I was working until 10pm on Wednesday. This was mainly because a fairly important but ancient system had decided to have hard drive failure, and it wasn't a trivial job to persuade it to recognise new disks.

Still, it's been a much more relaxing Christmas Eve-Eve(!), and I'm definitely in the mood for the festive season, and a week off work. One of the tasks I've been meaning to carry out for months (isn't that always the way) was the replacement of the valve that controls the water flow into the cold water tank. The old one (pictured right after a brief wrestling match to remove it from the tank) was annoyingly loud for long periods as it refilled turbulantly. More of a problem, though, was the fact that it regularly didn't shut off properly, so there'd often end up being a substantial spray of water out of the the overflow onto the terrace. manky valve

If I didn't send Christopher up to flush the toilet (he likes his 'special jobs') to give the valve another opportunity to close, this was set to continue until - and this was troubling, I felt that the underside of the polystyrene lid of the tank was wet, so it had almost overflowed the tank!

Christopher and I dispatched ourselves to B&Q back before the summer, and appropriated a new valve and extra-large orange ball (Christopher's choice!), and I'd been waiting for a reasonable (mild weather, mainly) opportunity to carry out the replacement.

To cut a long story short, the replacement of the old valve proceeded very well - even connecting the mains pipe to the outside of the valve caused no problems, after a little persuasion with PTFE tape! However, I was perplexed when, once the tank was full, the cold water tap in the bathroom could barely offer a dribble. Fortunately, the shower and the hot water were OK, but the toilet cistern wouldn't fill, and the bath only ran hot.

Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to figure out a solution, as we were due to meet up with Cath's and Dave's families at Dad's shortly after lunch, but in an attempt to gain some wisdom from the 'net, Beth posted a request for advice in the Digital Spy Forums that she looks after.

All this was forgotten about when we arrived at Dad and Rita's house, though, as, once the others had turned up, the mulled wine and hot snacks were served, and the children dashed round the ground floor, enjoying playing with each other and nearly breaking things.

The exchange of gifts was amusing - Martin had brought a Father Christmas costume, and having popped outside with bags of presents that we'd all brought (plus a potato each for Tilly and Christopher, as a bit of a joke), and the full Santa performance was offered - even to the adults (much to our eventual embarrassment - see right!) We all had an entertaining time, and it was all too soon that the sky started to darken and late afternoon turned into evening, and we had to go home.

Poor old Santa..

The reality of the cold water problem returned to the forefront of my mind whe we arrived back at the house. Fortunately, though, a couple of users who were, or knew plumbers had replied to Beth's plea for help, and the first - and simplest - suggestion I tried (which assumed the flow of water was blocked by air bubbles from when the tank had drained, pushing water back up the pipe would hopefully free the trapped air) worked perfectly. In fact, it was made even easier by the fact that the bath tap is a mixer, so all I needed to do was put my hand over the outlet, turn the hot tap on, and then the cold tap. A few encouraging gurgles (and some fiddling with the basin cold tap, too) soon gave way to a good flow of water, and a feeling of relief that we didn't have to go to the expense of calling a plumber out two days before Christmas!

It's certainly renewed my faith in the "internet community"!

Tomorrow, of course, is Christmas Eve. We've got a few things planned, including early nights for the children and regular checks of the NORAD Santa Tracking website.

I'm having so much fun this Christmas - I'm sure having children makes it that much better!

Posted by james at December 23, 2004 9:19 PM

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