Friday, May 8, 2020

A Little Bit of Light Plumbing ...

As typically happens during any prolonged period at home - things start to break. In this case, the overflow pipe outside had started to drip. First, it wasn't a lot so we could safely ignore it. The plan was to do something big in the autumn and it could wait to then. Then, rather than the odd drop, it was dripping continually. Then occasionally running. While we weren't that worried to start with it was beginning to look like it costing us quite a bit in the water (not to mention the green slime that was starting to grow on the wall).

So the first thing was to decide to do something about it. This is a big step. Once you've taken the decision to actually do something with then it becomes a lot easier to actually put aside some time to do it. Deciding to see if I could make this into a blog post was just part of that decision process. 

Finally, the day came, and this was how it started;

Now the first thing you'll notice is that there are no drips. This is from a pipe that was dripping profusely all night. How absolutely typical was this?! I put aside some time to fix it and as if by magic, it fixed itself. The problem with it not dripping is that if I was going to crawl around in the loft I wanted to make sure when I'd found the cause I was actually going to be able to identify it so I could fix it. No drips and it's a lot harder to track down and 100% identity the cause.

There's a magical thing that you can do to make problems like this recur. Just stop trying to fix them, busy yourself with something else. Sure enough, I got half-way through another job and then the dripping resumed. Perfect!

So the investigation started!

We have a quite a big crawl space on the 1st floor and so nimbly made my way through it (with almost no cursing and swearing!) and then found this;

The most observant of you will notice that outside there were two pipes coming out. Two. Now here, on the inside of the wall, we have three pipes going in. Three. There isn't a great deal you can do in this situation - I knew that there was water coming out and so there must be water going in. I couldn't really worry about where the third pipe was going. The white wire, by the way, is electric for the non-working outside security light. Because of course, it is. I'll save tracking back and disconnecting that for another day. 

The next thing to do was to track back the overflow pipes and try and identify which one of the three was responsible for the water. Two went into the loft, one went straight into the toilet cistern. Checking that quickly ruled that out as the source of the leak. 

The next step was a trip up into the attic. My first in this new house!

This then led to the first problem; a ladder. Our old house had one of those really nice loft ladders where you un-catch the trap door and there was a loft ladder right there you could use. Fantastic. This house doesn't have that.

A bit of digging around revealed a suitable ladder in the shed - and also a plug which, when plugged in, turned a light on in the loft for me to see. Result!

Once I was up there the problem became pretty clear quite quickly;

Basically, it looks like the cold water storage tank in the loft was overfilling. There was a lot of flexibility around the stopcock, I think age must have just weakened it a bit at a time and it was now no longer was able to cut off the water before the overflow was reached. The usual solution would be to bend it back into place so it was slightly lower - however, as we're in the middle of a pandemic, that would have been quite a risk if it broke. 

The solution? A plastic bottle attached to it to give it more buoyancy (and thus it would cut off the flow of the water earlier).

And here you go;

I have to say I enjoyed this. First of all, it was my first trip into the attic and I found some useful stuff up there (leftover from the previous owners). And secondly; I really enjoy this type of problem. It was something that I could solve using the tools around me (in this case a plastic bottle and an elastic band dropped by the postman), and the effect was an immediate fix and something that would last. I loved it.

This is intended to only last a couple of months until a permanent fix. 

Oh. Why did the dripping stop? I'd had a shower after getting up so the tank was refilling ...

Anyway, you read to the end, well done. Gold start for you :-)