Most homes in London are fairly old. In the suburbs, you are looking at builds approaching 80 years old. The place which I call home is in its sixties. At this age, repairs become an inevitability. Not only are the houses old, but the ad-hoc way in which extensions, garages and conservatories have been added to many dwellings in London means that when things break, they do not do so in a logical order.
Well, here is the latest example of my handywork around the house, my attempt to save cash and repair bits and pieces:
Let me explain. We have two toilets. One inside the house (upstairs) and one in the extension (ground floor). This is from the downstair loo, installed a few years ago when we refurbished the extension. What was only a utility room, housing the fridge, washing machine and dishwasher became a bit more funky and got a new shower and toilet installed. The poor tumble dryer (rarely used) got dumped in the garage. It is still rarely used, hence its now unglamorous location.
But back to the toilet. A couple of weeks ago a leak sprang up from the mains pipe. So I duly isolated the supply and we have been struggling on one toilet since then, while I figured out a way to fix the leak.
So, I isolated the pipe and took it apart. There was no urgency as I said, because we have two toilets, plus this loo could be disconnected from the water without shutting off the whole house.
The next bit is complex. Bear with me. Connecting the mains supply to the cistern was a simple 90 degree pipe coupling. The name may be wrong, but it looked something like this
Unfortunately, it was a really tight fit. And the washers in the coupling had worn away. This was the second time this had happened. We had called in the plumber a couple of years ago to fix this, but these parts should not wear away in two years. So I investigated, and begun to put two and two together. I may have come up with five, but I figured this out...
We have had really cold weather. Being in the extension, this bathroom is not as well insulated as the rest of the house. And being a very tight fit, the coupling had expanded and contracted more dramatically than the other pipes in the house. Hence the worn washers and the leak.
So, I decided to re-do the pipe. I opted for plastic piping, as it is a lot easier to manipulate (push and pull joints) plus the connecting mains supply is a bunch of plastic piping. And I sent the pipes on a maze through the toilet, as you can see in the pic above. This was to give the piping room to expand and contract in extreme weather. Finally I connected the extended mains pipe and the cistern via a flexible hose. This was to make the awkward angle easier to reach. I probably spent more on materials than I needed to (around £50, including a pipe cutter) and spent far too much time at DIY stores than was necessary, but I fixed the bugger, by myself!
This morning, I connected it to the mains supply and voila! It worked, no leaks between the joints and we are back to being a two toilet household.
And I saved a fortune (probably £200) compared to what a plumber would have cost. Life is good! Victory is mine!