Taken to document possibly one of the proudest moments of my life, today’s picture shows how a GCSE in Physics, a bit of string, some baking trays and a slow leaking radiator valve can all be combined to prevent a fuse box from shorting out and causing a disaster.
Having been notified that there was water dribbling from the upstairs bathroom, down the kitchen wall and into the meter cupboard, investigations revealed that the valve from the recently removed radiator had burst due to age and was issuing water at a very slow rate but sufficient enough to be problematic.
Application of a spanner reduced the leak to a slight dribble but the resulting issuance was in that awful hinterland of too much and too little. Then the long dead Mr O’Malley’s tobacco stained voice echoed in my head and said – “Capillary Attraction”.
A visit to the shed to collect some string and grabbing a handful of containers later, I had fashioned a rudimentary collection device which stopped the flow downstairs until such a time as the emergency plumber could attend.
I still remember his face when he saw what I had done and if you look up the word Impressed in a Pictionary, you’ll see that same face.
In 2012 I was living in a flat on the outskirts of lovely Leamington Spa, a picturesque Georgian town with lots of history and a grid system, with the then nearly-Mrs-Gnomepants V2.0 . The flat was a post war construct but had some modern trimmings such as central heating.
The thing with houses and flats is you get used to the sounds they make the longer you live in them. Sometimes these noises can be unique – particular to a location, a room or a function. The way a door closes. The way the water runs through the pipes. The way the floorboard creaks. How the neighbours sound. Each noise distinctive to the occupant. Sometimes subtly, other times in-your-face-obvious. The flat in Leamington Spa was no exception.
A particular sound that could be heard in the Leamington Spa flat was an almost imperceptable sigh from the attic when the heating switched from timed hot water only to hotwater and heating. It was like an asthmatic squirrel living in the attic. I could often hear it and know, safely, that the heating had come on gone off. Others might not have heard it though and would often think of my central heating predictions as some element of my weirdness.
So when the sigh ceased and the radiators started to glow red. I knew there was something up. Taking to the loft via a rickety ladder I was able to determine that the mysterious sigh used to come from the motor in the switch valve which had failed and was forcing the hot water into the heating system.
As handy as I am, I donned my flat cap, put a rolled up cigarette on my bottom lip and stood at the bottom of the ladder sighing, tutting and generally looking quizical. Then, after three mugs of tea (extra strong), several looks through the Sun newspaper (upon which I had drawn phalluses and spectacles on people in the photographs) and an impromptu 3 hour trip to the corner shop for some vital parts, I nipped up the ladder and took this photograph.
I then explained the problem to the Then-soon-to-be-Mrs-Gnomepants v2.0, pointed out that there was not much call for that kind of thing these days, sucked air through my teeth and said “It’s gonna cost ya”. The photograph was then sent on to a more experienced central heating engineer/plumber who, having been pleased to see such good investigative work and standing round, had the failed unit replaced in a fraction of the time and only one cup of tea.
So I get home from work and Mrs Gnomepants is there flapping. “Wazup” sez I
“Flud wer” sez I
“Flud there” sez her
I go into the kitchen (I live in Yorkshire, we enter houses here through the BACK door) and notice the wall under the electric meter is sodden. “O Noes” sez I “Best turn electric off”
On entering the bathroom (which is above the kitchen) I notice the carpet has been lifted and that the floorboards are sodden too. A tiny trickle of water issuing from a pipe which was connected to a radiator only 24hrs previous. So grabbing my spanner and using all the brute force I can muster (which isn’t very much because I am a bit weedy despite appearances) I try to tighten the nut from where the leak issues
It just spins round and round. I tighten it as best I can. Water is still weeweeing out of the pipe. An emergency plumber is called and the soonest they can get there is 2 hours. In two hours my house could be under water. So lifting the floorboards I assess the situation. Somehow I need to capture the water before it goes into the floor…..Then GCSE Physics kicked into gear! Capillary attraction!
Using a careful system of well angled weighted string and baking trays I create a system that requires the minimal effort to bail out.
Note the string going to the left of the picture. The drip travels down the string and into the baking tray.
Looking downward here. Note the careful system of trays used to collect drips during the emptying of the trays.
After further consideration a deeper container was located. Note the ingenious double line of string. This helps capture twice as much water and delivers it to the larger container.
Had you been in my kitchen just 20 minutes ago you may have witnessed me slicing parsnips. I hate the bloody things. It’s for the wife.
Contrary to widely held belief I am not trying to poison her (though allowing her to ingest parsnip is the equivalent of her allowing me to smoke cigarettes) she requested parsnip to accompany the rather splendid roast (free range locally sourced) chicken that is brewing in the oven.
In other news, I still lack a plumber. We have a lovely new bathroom suite in Gnomepants Manor, only it’s in the dining room rather than the bathroom. This is inconvenient as most people prefer to eat their dinner away from people taking a dump or having a wank in the shower. But until a plumber is found we will have a bathroom suite in the dining room. Like the pikeys we are.
Furthermore, I have managed, despite constant interruption by LJ and other distractions to complete 1.25 of my 5 outstanding assignments. This makes me feel good.
Last night I dreamt I got the wrong bus home. I ended up going to Huddersfield over the mountains. Of course it had snowed and the road ended up being closed. Thankfully someone on the bus had a mobile phone ringtone that sounded like my alarm clock so my journey was cut short.
Saturday brought with it soggy but bright sunshine. The previous night’s rain all but an evaporating memory. So I took it upon myself to finish repairing a job I started in March. The ornamental wood fascia on the garage. Having successfully painted the replacement wood some months previous, I removed the existing old and well rotten planks. This was easier than I thought. Further examination revealed I had the issue of four well rusted iron bolts holding the wood onto the prefabricated concrete.
At this I nipped out to Deacon’s Superdec (a kind of poor mans Rapid Hardware/B&Q) and managed to locate 4 similar if not exact bolts with nuts, a set of spanners and a packet of metal cutting hacksaw blades. On my return I set to sawing the bolts off the concrete. I managed to get two of the buggers off before G-homo-lupus offered me the use of his angle grinder. The grinder did the same job as the junior hacksaw in a matter of seconds rather than minutes.
I finished off scraping the age old flakey paint off the prefabricated concrete and then opened the bottle of fungicidal wash required to prepare the surface for painting. After application I read the back of the bottle. And this was the writing that was writ:-
PLEASE ALLOW 24HRS DRYING TIME
The word “fuck” was used.
Mr P from up the lane said “Looks like rain tomorrow”
The word “fuck” was used again.
The tin of external paint said:-
PLEASE ALLOW 24HRS DRYING TIME
The word “fuck” was used for the fourth time that day.
I’ve been tinkering with Muckybadgers. CMS is such a drag! Still after about a week of picking and poking I’ve kind of got it sussed now I think.
This weekend promises to be quite an active one. Nostell Priory has a steam rally this weekend so I might don my harris tweed cloth cap and take the whippet along to have a gawp at some of the beasts of steam that will be there. Providing I can forage for the £12 entry fee down the back of the couch that is.
Saturday will also see a Farmers Market in Ossett which is just outside Wakefield on the other side of the M1. The wife, her sister, Meredith and I will no doubt be going along to sample the delights of Yorkshire’s finest local foods.
Sunday, we are heading down the A1 to Retford or most specifically, Blyth. There to reunite with Emma (formerly Emma-in-Brighton), Sarah (formerly Sarah-in-Brighton) and Philip (formerly Philip-in-Brighton) who are the Wife’s old university house mates.
Monday and Tuesday are as yet unoccupied….wooo 4 days off work!
My hands are still black with paint. I’ve scrubbed and scrubbed but still I look like I have some weird black spot disease.
On Sunday I painted the final bits of the replacement wood for the garage. I then turned my hand to painting gate posts. I even affixed a sign that said
Then in a weird bit of DIY Yin Yang I attempted to strip one of our lovely panelled doors. First I used a heat gun and a scraper. After much wood scorching and hallucinations brought on by pre-1960’s paint fumes (Who knew that little pixies lived in our barbecue? And why didn’t anyone tell me about the giraffe in the clematis?), half an hour and only a 7ft by 3inch strip of cleared door later I decided that much that I liked the feeling of levitating 10ft off the ground, it probably wasn’t doing my lungs any good.
So I switched.
To Nitromors Paint stripper. Just add man.
Thing is, stripping a door with chemicals doesn’t really do the plants much good and, Ok it gets rid of most of the paint, but some of the paint was industrial strength gloss that required about 540 coats of paint stripper.
4hrs and a tin of Nitromors later I’d managed to strip one side of the door.
I then made the unilateral decision that the doors would be taken away by a professional company and dipped.
Except it’s not.
It’s just sitting there, in the hallway waiting for either myself or Mrs Gnomepants to get a company round to do the sodding job.
Other jobs requiring tasking include:
Finishing decorating and carpeting the front room
Digging out the lane and building a retaining wall
Working out how to fix new wood to rotten wood without making a pre-war garage collapse
Plumbing in a washing machine to a place where there exists no water
Preparing the spare room as an office for Mrs Gnomepants