I have invented a new phobia – “the fear of the sound of running water in a barn” – I am totally paranoid that every time I open my front door, somewhere in the house there will be water pouring down the walls.
It all began with my first encounter with plumbing, which was installing a dishwasher in the self-contained cottage – the part of the house I was living in when I escaped the dreaded caravan. With no hot water supply in the cottage, I was fed up with having to boil the kettle every time I wanted to wash up. More importantly, the expat lifestyle in India, with maid, gardener, driver &etc., meant I hadn’t done any washing up for nearly 3 years, and I really wasn’t enjoying getting back into it. Executive decision – I’ll install a dishwasher.
I bought one of those slimline ones, perfect for the small kitchen in the cottage, and decided to install it myself. After all, it’s only connecting up a few pipes – how hard can it be???
For some reason, that with hindsight is completely unfathomable, I didn’t start the job until about 8 o’clock at night, assuming it would only take half hour. I mean, it’s all those push fit fittings. Dead easy….. (I really must get my rosy coloured glassed fixed).
Unfortunately, the plumber hadn’t allowed for anything other than the kitchen sink, so all the pipework in situ wasn’t in the right place to accommodate the dishwasher. The waste pipes were too high, so I had to take them all apart so I could cut a bit off the main stack. The water pipes were too short, so I had to add an extra length to them. Both of which meant disconnecting the sink, taking off the work surface, and emptying out and moving the kitchen cupboards. I was cursing the plumber and his pipework. But to be fair, my dishwasher was an afterthought, so I can’t really blame him. Half hour job – yeah right…… I finally crawled into bed at about midnight.
Something woke me up two hours later.
Thought number one: The burn is flowing well (there’s a stream that runs down off the hills and passes quite close to the house)
Thought number two: It’s not normally that loud
Thought number three: It’s the middle of winter; there’s 2ft of snow outside; the burn is frozen solid
Thought number four: ********************* (fill in expletives of your choice)
I dived out of bed, dashed into the kitchen, to find the connection I’d put onto the cold water pipe extension had come apart, and water was gushing out in a fountain in the middle of the room. Just in case I’ve never mentioned it, my water supply is on a high pressure pump from a 60ft borehole on my land. It’s the best water I’ve ever tasted, but it is always freezing cold. In the middle of summer, no ice ever required; in the middle of winter, you can’t hold your hand under the tap for more than 10 seconds.
And now I was wading through it barefoot, with my toes giving serious consideration to the idea of frostbite. I turned off the supply and wanted to cry.
It was minus 10 degrees outside, in an unheated stone house, at 2am, and I was standing in a lake in my kitchen. This might have been one of the (many) occasions that I questioned my sanity in taking on a project of this scale! I dropped a few towels on the floor to show willing, and went back to bed. Because things always look better in the morning!
Well that’s the theory anyway. But as far as I’m concerned, waking up to a freezing pool full of soggy towels in the kitchen and no water supply wasn’t much of an improvement on the 2am scenario. Fortunately investigation into the cause of the exploding pipe suggested it wasn’t anything serious; I just hadn’t pushed the pipe into the connection properly.
Not so hard after all. Off to the DIY store to by a new coupling joint and it was a 10 minute fix – both ends of the pipe well and truly rammed together! Job done. I had a fully functioning dishwasher so no more washing up. Happy days!
But so began the fear of the sound of running water in a barn. The thought of the remaining three bathrooms to be plumbed in was not exactly a happy one.