Hopefully by the time this goes to press I will have a fully functioning central heating system again attached to a shiny new boiler. Hopefully...
Have you tried getting an engineer out to look at your heating when it's dripping water out all over your work tops? Well, I have and believe me it's an interesting experience.
The saga started the week before Christmas. Why is it that these things always seem to happen at the worst possible time? Anyway, I called an bloke that I'd used twice before on the basis that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. He actually turned up the Saturday before Christmas and looked at the boiler which, by this time had stopped dripping water because it had been turned on and boiled it all off.
He diagnosed - eventually - a buggered heat exchanger. He tried to contact the wholesaler for a price for a replacement. Surprise, surprise - no reply. However he did give me a ball park figure. "About £500-£600 he said. Or a new boiler which could be anything from £3,500 upwards." He promised to get back to me on the Monday with a price. I've not heard from him since.
I persevered with the intermittent leak, suspecting that it might just be rain water coming down the pipe as there seemed to me a rough correlation with the rather crap weather we've been having. I built a cover for the flue to keep the rain off. It didn't work.
Then I noticed that the pressure in my header tank had dropped so I opened the valve to top it up. Guess what? Water pissed out of the boiler. "Right" I thought. "It's not rain - time to ring another engineer!"
I rang a local company that advertise a lot in the local rag. He said he'd be there between 1 and 3 the next day. I waited for him to turn up. I'm still waiting. I left a message on this answering machine that night. He rang me back the next afternoon and said he could come right now. By this time I'd already rung someone else so I politely told him to sod off.
The company I had rung had a big ad in the local phone book. They took my credit card details and said they'd be there the next day between 9 and 7 and would ring 30 minutes before arriving to make sure I was in. I waited in all day. I'm still waiting.
I rang them just 30 minutes before their 7pm deadline. They said they'd rung me four times and got no answer so they didn't come. That's bollocks - I was next to the phone all day waiting. Then we got standard gas man excuse number 7 (if there is a gas engineer out there please do let me know whether this really is standard practice!) "Oh we've transposed the last two digits on your phone number. No wonder you didn't get a call."
Interestingly, that's the same excuse that the other guy gave me for not ringing to say he couldn't make it - hence my question as to whether it's an industry standard.
When I asked when an engineer could come, he told me that despite the 90 minutes guaranteed 24/7 response time they proudly display on their ads and web site, they didn't have anyone available for the next week and he suggested I tried another company.
So I rang another company - who turned out to be the same company with a different name and phone number. FFS!
The bloke at company number 5 that I rang at 7pm on Friday night booked a call for first thing next morning. The bloke rang and actually turned up. He ripped the boiler apart, diagnosed a bust heat exchanger, gave me a price for fixing it or supplying a new boiler. As I write this two blokes have turned up with a boiler and work has commenced. So we got there in the end.
The moral of this story? Plumbers and gas engineers are fucking unreliable, so if you find a good one then hang onto the phone number!
So as I sit here in the cold waiting for normal service to be restored - here's a jolly little ditty that seems appropriate....
* * * UPDATE * * *
It worked! I have heat in my house and two and a half grand less in my bank! All that money and aggro just to get back where I was a month ago...