My wife wakes me up. The dawn chorus is just starting outside. "There's drips coming through the back bedroom ceiling!" she tells me.
After staring blankly for a few seconds, I groan something. The meaning is "Oh, no, not again!" We've had more problems with water in this house since we moved last summer than in ten years at our previous house. (See also May 13, 2000 and May 15, 2000.)
We mutter random thoughts until she decides to flush the toilet and turn the taps on to see if it's the overflow leaking. The drips certainly slow.
We both lie down, awake and annoyed, as the sky very slowly brightens. "I'll see if anything came out of the overflow," she volunteers a short while later. I hear her unlocking the back door as I try to re-visualise the plumbing. She returns to report nothing visible.
"Well, maybe it's not connected at the tank end," I hazard. The overflow pipe exists purely to take excess water from the tank to somewhere safe outside. I'd checked the pipe existed previously but it was unnecessarily awkward at the time to check much beyond what I could see from the loft hatch.
I made some tea and then pulled on some clothes. I went out and got the ladder from the shed. My wife organised a torch - mains electricity might be a bad idea around who knows what leaky pipes...
Carefully treading on the joists, I made my way towards the tank in the loft. Hunched over due to the lack of space, I clambered over the mains feed (which crosses the loft space at waist height). Not too bad the first time.
Had this been another house, I'd not have believed what I saw. The overflow pipe ran from the outside wall towards the tank. However, it didn't actually connect to the overlow outlet - it was just resting on a joist. The ceiling below was quite damp-looking. We'd definitely had an unhandled overflow... sigh
I picked the pipe up and inspect the fitting it was intended to connect to. No way did it simply push in. Hmm. There was a threaded connector, screwed tight against the outside of the tank. Doing nothing useful. Hmm. I couldn't see how it would connect the pipe, so I went and reported back.
"There should be a neoprene washer," my wife surmised. After a second look at the joint (and a failed attempt with some filler) I concurred.
In the meantime, I'd fiddled around with the ballcock (which should, of course, have prevented the overflow in the first place) and it seemed to be cutting the water off properly now. It had been dripping...
The situation was under control. No hope of going back to sleep. I let my back ease up. The last crossing of the mains pipe had been an effort. I gave trying to doze and got up at 7am. Unheard of for a Saturday morning.
Woodpigeons seem to be the last to join the dawn chorus around here. That or they keep going after all the other birds have shut up.
The roof space gets hot... Well, it's fixed. I visited a local plumbers merchant to try to get something to fix the overflow pipe to the overflow outlet. In the course of the discussion, I discovered that the outlet on our tank was fitted the wrong way 'round. Hmmm...
So I headed back to see if I could reverse it. It was too furred up. I had a think and a chat with my wife. We came up with a number of solutions, none workable. Until she remembered we had some waterproof tape that might be both flexible and strong enough to do the job. Good thinking!
So, back into the loft carrying a lantern (no grue is gonna eat me), a torch, a pair of scisors and the tape. It goes on great, clinging to the screwthread on the overflow outlet and to the overflow pipe. So, to the moment of truth. I plunge the ballcock down, opening the valve and wait for the water level to reach the overflow.
Ye-ay! It works. No leaks! And the water splashed happily onto the back bedroom window and down onto the patio. Nothing through the ceiling.
Another job well bodged.