Friday, 13 July 2012


Well yesterday was exciting.  Mr WithaY was off out working, and after we'd walked the dog, he headed off by about 9am.  So far so good.

I pottered around in the kitchen for an hour, doing the usual domestic drudgery stuff, but that came to a grinding halt when I realised that we had no water coming out of the taps.  To be specific, there was no hot water coming out of the kitchen tap, and the barest trickle of cold water.  There was no water at all upstairs.

I went over to the petrol station and asked if they still had water.  Yes they did.   I asked our immediate neighbours if they had water.  Yes they did.

Oh good. Just us without, then.

In the course of the conversation with the neighbour, he told me that there was a "huge leak" in the village somewhere, which the people at Wessex Water had been looking for for months.  My heart sank. I telephoned Wessex Water and told them that I had no running water, but the neighbours did. They were very helpful and said that they'd send someone out "soon."  

Sure enough, a short (ish) time later, a large smiley man knocked on the door.  I took him round to the back garden and showed him what I had discovered - namely that the hole in the patio where the main water stop-cock* is sited was completely full of water, and a small spring could be seen in one corner, making a pretty cascade across the garden.

He stripped off his high-vis coat and plunged an arm into the water to turn off the water at the mains.  A few moments later, his hand emerged, clutching the broken stop cock.

"Ah,"  he said.  "That's not supposed to happen."

We agreed that it was unfortunate, standing out in the rain as he tried to massage life back into his arm.  Apparently our cold water is really, really cold.

He sucked his teeth.  I hopped from foot to foot anxiously. Water continued to cascade across the patio into the lawn, making an impromptu bog garden feature.

"Well, the guys are on their way," he told me.  "I'll wait in the van till they arrive."  Off he went.

Some time later, two chaps arrived with a lot of digging equipment, and a small pump.  Things got noisy.  A large hole was dug.  More water was pumped out of the hole and across the garden.  The dog was beside herself with excitement, so I only took her out into the garden when she had her lead on, as I didn't want her to run into the way of the workmen, or, more worryingly, run out of the garden if the gate had been left open.

After a couple of hours, the workmen showed me the water pipe they had extricated.  It looked like a long cylindrical colander, peppered with small holes, one huge hole at the end.   Apparently it must have been leaking for years, which explains why the patio is in such a terrible state at that end of the house.  The good news was that the pipe can be replaced. The bad news is that there's more pipe, probably in a similar terrible state, running up into the house, and anything inside the house is our responsibility, not that of the Wessex Water people.


Another prolonged period of drilling, pumping and stop-cock jiggery-pokery** followed, and the workmen told me that the water "ought to be working ok" now.

Nope.  They then tried to rejig the water softener that lives under the kitchen sink in case that was the problem.  Nope.  They sucked their teeth and hummed and hawed.  One of them said "This looks like a pretty new kitchen.  I don't suppose you'll want to have all these cabinets cut out, do you?"

No I fucking won't.

The long afternoon wore on, the rain continued to piss down relentlessly, and I was still without running water.  The workmen rigged up a sort of interim system involving long plastic tubes which at least allowed me to use all the taps in the house, and left, having called the Wessex Water plumber to come and "sort it out for you."

I took the dog for a walk, despite the monsoon that West Wiltshire was currently enjoying.

On our return, the plumber rang and said he'd be there in 15 minutes.  Sure enough, he arrived as promised, and I explained the situation to him.  He looked at the water softener, then at me.  

"I'm really not sure why they called me in, to be honest," he said.  "I don't think the water softener is the problem here."  I agreed, but for the look of the thing we went through a complex rigmarole of turning taps on and off as he fiddled with various stop-cocks under the sink.  After a few minutes of this, we agreed that the water softener was indeed functioning fine, and the real issue was the perforated water pipes under the house.

So, that's how things have been left.  The workmen promised that they'd be back today to finish up, but so far there's no sign of them.  My back garden is still a tangled mess of bright blue pipework, bags of cement, heaps of spoil, and of course all the crap we took out of the garage and stacked on the patio till we could find a home for it.

And of course, it's still pissing down.

In other news, the dog is brilliant.

*Sorry. It's hard to talk about this without using many, many double entendres.
**Told you.


tpals said...

Bad. Very bad. I had to replace all the pipes from the street and in the house at my cost many years ago. It included the pipe that went under the driveway...expensive.

Good news: you only have to go through this once.

livesbythewoods said...

Tpals, wow, that sounds dreadful. Hopefully we won't have to pay TOO much, but we haven't seen a bill yet.