CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Short lived results ...

Friday marked the three week "anniversary" of having the house flooded out as a result of a serious surge in water pressure that managed to break; the toilet in two places, the pipe bringing water to the bidet, the tap to the kitchen sink, the water heater and buggered up a nearly-new washing machine.

And, whilst I can't deny that we have had some progress, things are still far from liveable. I'm still waiting for the water heater to be fixed. If it can be.

Fortunately, or not, we're having a heatwave, so I was able to withstand a shower in the slightly sun-warmed "cold" water today. This facility is only available in the mid-afternoon and only on excessively hot days (which is not many up here) and, which may not always be when one needs it most!

The washing machine that was fixed yesterday, wouldn't work today.

And, we still have the outstanding matter of the pressure regulator.

After discovering another new leak on Tuesday, the council's plumbers - to give them their due - drove up here within minutes. Guilty conscience, maybe? :) They tightened up the nut that was causing that new small escape and restored the pressure again. It seems that the plumbers, who'd been to change the tap in the kitchen had turned this down. I think they must have thought that the regulating nut was the turning off nut and turned the wrong one.

Flanders and Swann had a song about events like this, didn't they?

The council water people still say all this is not their fault and that the water pressure does not go up and down like a whore's drawers, but I know what I heard and felt as well as what other experts have said.

Anyway ... I also asked the council plumbers again about the regulator that they tell me is supposed to be fitted to stop things being damaged by the ups and downs of pressure (that they say don't happen.)

And the upshot is that it's not a great amount of money, so I decided not to wait for the landlady to get round to it. All this might have been prevented for want of a less than 20 quid regulator? Oh the council will fit it free and it's obligatory that you have one, but you have to go out to the hardware shop to buy it yourself. Can anyone see the logic in this system?

Why can't the council order them? Surely, they would get bulk rates and be able to make a little for the municipal coffers? I will never understand.

Anyway, to be certain, I even got the plumbers to write me out a note with what I needed to buy written on it, a "regulador de pression de media pulgada" (a half inch pressure regulator). I gave that note to the woman in the hardware shop and what do I get? Some sort of valve that has nothing to do with it.

In fact, I made the bus journey down to Buenavista specially on Tuesday afternoon, after a wash in 2 inches of bearly luke warm water, which I certainly didn't appreciate. The plumbers came up straight away on Wednesday to fit it, after I rang the town hall to say I'd got it. At least I'd had the forethought to get that written down, so they know it wasn't my fault it was wrong. Then, surprise, surprise, after all this time, they show me the regulator that's installed - yes you heard that right. There is a regulator installed already, it's just that it's several years old and "probably doesn't work any more," they say! Right. Really?

Is there a test to prove / refute this claim, maybe? Does anyone tell you that regulators are obligatory, or that when you've got one, they need to be replaced on a regular basis (because of regular damage?) Nah, my guess is that councils deliberately leave you to guess about it, so that when they send you unregulated pressure that buggers everything in your house, they can say it's your fault: you hadn't installed / changed / got the right model of regulator / maintained your stuff / whatever else they dream up.

If you want a tip, it isn't going to be "install a regulator" or "change your regulator regularly", my advice is just know that whatever you do right, the council plumbers' jobsworth description manual already has an excuse to contradict you. Live with it. Their fuck ups will cost YOU money.

Tenants shouldn't have to do this: it is the landlords' responsibility. But we all know how responsible landlords are. Their obligations seem to end after holding their hands out, no matter what your contract / the law says. They truly do think that we are being unreasonable to expect the things that are listed in the contract and that we are paying for to actually work.

Meanwhile, I hadn't been able to get out to exchange this damn regulator, because I'd still been waiting for another plumber to give me a second opinion on the water heater and for a washing machine technician to call. Both of those turned up on Thursday. After the engineer promised by my household assistance insurance just failed to materialise and the store I bought the machine from only last October tried to wash their hands of any responsibility too, I decided to call an engineer I'd used some years ago for my old machine.

They appear not to be available any more, however, to cut yet another long story short, whomever answered that number gave me another number to call that turned out to be some sort of call center and a decidedly rare oasis of efficiency in Tenerife's desert of bunglers. The man on the phone made me get the make and model; no vagaries here. Normally, a "Well, it's a washing machine, init?" would suffice perfectly. In fact, usually, when you try to give people "essential information" they don't want it and brush it aside as irrelevant. Sometimes handy, generally infuriating. What it seems I got were the official technicians from Santa Cruz, from the manufacturers of the machine.

They bearly got in the door, turned the tap and clicked the button, when the guy asked, somewhat rhetorically, "There's been a lot of pressure through here, hasn't there?" Well, yes I happen to think so and so I recounted the story (as short as I could make it) of all the breakages, etc., and the town hall's insistence that the pressure doesn't go up and down. They laughed.

They also advise me that the town hall is supposed to be using an apparatus to measure the water pressure at around 4 to 4.5 kilos. Are you kidding? I haven't even seen those three stooges do anything as remotely technical as licking a finger and sticking it in the air to find out which way the wind is blowing!

You just wait until next time they come up and I ask them to measure me 4 to 4.5 kilos please. They'll think I mean "of spuds!"

Anyway, the washing machine technicians confirmed what I'd thought all along; that an airlock was what was causing the machine not to fill. They checked the filter, which I had put back in correctly, despite what the shop insisted was the problem. They asked me if I'd like them to change the valve just in case, as this may have been damaged by the high pressure. I said why not. And they still put the whole thing down as under guarantee (gratis).

As soon as they left, I did three wash loads that had been accumulating.

However, they did tell me to turn the water off to the machine, for the moment, until the regulator is fixed, when I'm not using it. Because it's on the same mains tap as the water heater, which is leaking, it has to be turned off anyway. But, every time the water is turned off to the washing machine, when the water is turned back on again, there's an airlock, the machine makes horrid noises and won't suck the water in. They showed me what to do to clear the problem, but it means pulling out the machine, disconnecting the pipe, letting out any air, reconnecting it. And I simply don't have the strength and can't manage it. So, once again, I have no washing machine.

I also asked the washing machine technicians about the crazy shit the town hall plumber was spouting about only ever feeding a washing machine from a tank on the roof and never from the water supply direct from the street and, as I knew they would, they also confirmed that this too was a whole load of bullshit.

Today, I also happened to talk to a man who lives in the village, further down the valley, and he was recounting his woes of the up and down water pressure. His daughter lives up here, close to where I do and he says she's having all the same problems as me: as soon as she fixes one thing, something else breaks. She's installing new regulators and meters almost monthly after the pressure surges (that the town hall deny exist) just screw them. He tells me they've done all sorts of fiddles to reduce the effects, but they can't get a water heater to work at all, because if they reduce the pressure enough to not break everything, the water heater won't light up. Exactly the same problem I have.

Nevertheless, Thursday, another plumber came to look at the water heater.

After the plumbers from the insurance company had said that the water heater can't be repaired and needs to be replaced (however pointless), I decided to ask the landlady to send her plumber up to look at it. For two reasons: one, he's a right Barry Bucknell bodger, so if anyone can find a way to bodge, I mean fix, it, it's probably him. Secondly, if anyone is going to tell the landlady that it can't be repaired and it's going to cost her 250 euros, let it be her own plumber.

Anyway, he has taken away the make and model number and is going to try to order a membrane to fit that he says is what has been damaged by high pressure (that same high pressure the council says is a figment of my imagination) and, if he can get it (we don't know what year), he'll fix it.

Oh, for the last three weeks, the water heater would work, not that well, once one went outside and turned the water on. Today, it simply does not work.

In the meantime, I wait, I wash in cold water or mostly not at all? Again.

And this plumber tells me now that he had told the (mean and nasty) landlady that the previous water heater that did not work at all and left me without hot water (mostly) for 4 years was not going to work at all up here. So she knew it would not work, still insisted it did, that I was just "making it up", just because she is too mean. Well, I knew that already, but he just proved it.

And her "faithful" plumber tells me that his "day job" is working for Los Silos council, so he says, he knows "all the excuses". Yes, I'll bet he does!

He also confirms he knows I'm right about the pressure and the cause too.

And now I know, categorically, that so does the landlady.

Finally, Friday was the first chance I could get away to go to the shop to change the wrong valve for the regulator that I'd asked for in the first place. Only you know it wasn't going to be THAT simple, don't you? Absolutely.

The hardware store in Buenavista just gave me my money back, because, it turns out, she doesn't carry what I need in stock. So, after a journey requiring no less than 4 busses, I had to go to Los Silos and back to get one. When I got back into Buenavista, I walked back into town again, went to the town hall, sought out the girl who does the water and showed her what I'd got. She got a colleague to confirm that it looks right and she rang the plumbers. They will be coming up again on Tuesday. And, by then we'll be well into the 4th week of this bloody fiasco and I still don't know when (or if) the water heater will be fixed and there's no point getting anyone back to look at the washing machine again until that is done ... I'm so far beyond the end of my tether, it's just not funny!

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