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One thing after another

I blame my mother entirely. She phoned me up shortly after I’d had the bathroom finished, and told me to make sure I enjoyed the next half hour – as after that I’d have to start on the next round of maintaining and renovating the house! She clearly put a jinx on it, as I’ve had a string of things go wrong this week.

First, it was the realisation that the shower in the newly renovated bathroom is so powerful that the spray reaches well beyond the end of the bath and soaks the wall (which is ok, it’s now fully tiled) and the floor (which is definitely not ok). I did an emergency trip to B&Q and bought an L-shaped shower rail to replace the existing one, and an extra shower curtain. However, there is no way that my DIY skills are up to drilling through tiles to fix the cantilevered bits of the rail, let alone adding the ceiling support to stop it drooping. I called Rob, who had been very insistent that he was happy to do home maintenance/DIY jobs for me as well as decorating, and fortunately he was able to fit me in on Monday morning. Job done, shower now water-tight, and I relaxed.

But not for long. On Thursday morning I was brushing my teeth in my en-suite bathroom when I noticed that the extractor fan was on. Odd, I didn’t remember turning it on. But I’m not at my sharpest first thing in the morning, so I could have turned it on by accident. I checked. No, it was switched off at the main switch. For the next half an hour or so it kept turning itself on and off at random, making whoo-WHIRRRR-whoo-whirr-WHOOO noises, rather like a distressed ghost. And all the time it was firmly switched off at the wall. I don’t like apparently haunted appliances, and I strongly disapprove of ones that turn themselves on when they should have no power going to them! I phoned my regular electrician and asked him to come and take a look. He’s very busy but was intrigued enough by my problem that he managed to squeeze in a call late on Friday afternoon. He diagnosed an intermittent short in the fan, which will need replacing. He disconnected the fan from the mains completely, so that now if it turns on it will be a form of Perpetual Motion machine, but won’t be able to fit a new unit until next month at the earliest.

Again I breathed a sigh of relief. But then things got worse still. I’d just had a shower this morning, when I nearly jumped out of my skin. The toilet started belching at me! It was bubbling and burping, and making the most appalling noises! And it wouldn’t flush properly, but threatened to overflow. Hmmm – sounded like a blocked drain to me. Not a pleasant job to clear, but I managed to find someone in the Yellow Pages who would come out the same day (for a rather steep price!) and try to sort it out. That meant of course that I had to stay at home all day waiting for a call to say that the man was on his way – and I couldn’t even get on with my usual weekend household chore of doing the laundry, as I wasn’t convinced the washing machine would be able to drain through the blockage!

Fortunately the company I alighted on turned out to be reliable, and a van turned up mid-afternoon with a remarkably cheery drain clearing expert. He got rid of the blockage, but then put a camera down the drain to investigate further. He showed me the video to confirm his diagnosis. I’ve got a partially cracked sewer pipe with plant roots encroaching – which is what caused the blockage in the first place. It’s not in imminent danger of collapsing, but I think that fixing that will have to go on the list of major jobs for next spring.

They say that problems come in threes, and I sincerely hope that the three unplanned tradesman visits in one week finish the cycle! And I’ll thank my mother not to jinx the house in future!