Friday, February 16, 2018

Plumbing and Renovation Gone Awry


In our quest to address some long-neglected problems in our flat, I scheduled a handyman to visit yesterday morning to do some minor repairs on our kitchen and bathroom faucets. Sometimes the kitchen tap won't turn on all the way -- something about the handle, I think -- and the bathroom tap drips. I'm sure this is just a matter of changing a washer or something, but neither Dave nor I even know where a washer is located in a faucet, much less what it's supposed to do -- so a handyman was our best option.

Anyway, the guy showed up, and tried to turn off the water supply so he could do the work. Turns out, our stopcock (the valve that controls water into the flat) is stuck. He couldn't budge it, and didn't want to push too hard for fear of breaking it. We even walked up and down in the street outside trying to find the main valve into the house, and although we found the valves for both of our neighbors, we couldn't find our own. (Now I know how to turn off Mrs. Kravitz's water, though!)

After we'd spent half an hour wandering around in the street like zombies I called everything off. I had to get to work. So I paid him for his time (because, after all, it wasn't his fault that our stopcock is stuck) and that was that. The faucet still drips. The kitchen tap is still wonky. And I guess we need to alert the landlords about the stopcock, because if a pipe breaks someday (God forbid) there is no way to turn off the water into this flat!


You probably don't remember (and why would you?) but a big fire flared up in our neighborhood a couple of years ago on Finchley Road. I photographed the scene at the time, and this (above) is what it looks like today. I don't know if there's any work going on behind that scaffold or not. The shopfronts are still closed tight. Here we are, almost two and a half years later!

But at least this building has remained standing. We had some neighborhood excitement on Monday when a house under renovation, not too far from ours, collapsed completely! Now there's just a big dark gap in the street like a missing tooth. Olga and I walk that way frequently -- I may take her over there this morning to check it out. The collapsed house sounds like it was in bad shape -- it hadn't been lived in for a decade -- but it was on sale a few years ago for £1.4 million. Can you imagine investing that much in a property only to have it fall down? Another reason why we rent, in this land of century-old houses!

(Top photo: A bathroom fixtures shop on Finchley Road.)

12 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I heard about the house collapse on Sumatra Road. It was on the BBC national news for some reason - probably because it happened in London and not Blackburn or Sunderland or Cleckheaton. For a brief moment I thought it might be your house. Perhaps the squirrels and foxes had dug out a great void under your foundations.

e said...

Would a licensed plumber not be a better source of help in your situation?

Ms. Moon said...

Oh my goodness! The house just collapsed? How bizarre. I know that's a problem in Cuba but in London? Puts new perspective on the tiny fally-down house here in Lloyd.
I'm so glad in my relationship, one of us knows what the hell is going on with plumbing. I'm with you on the washers- I would have no idea. I hear you can learn anything from Youtube videos though.
Probably not, however, how to find the main valve to shut off your water.
I wonder if you and Mrs. Kravitz are on the same valve...
Is that possible?

robin andrea said...

"Ah plumbing," as our favorite handyman/carpenter used to say, "the bane of my existence." Faucets and valves, washers and pipes... the whole mess of our watery lives! I hope things get fixed there. Interesting about the house collapsing. That would have been quite a thing to see.

Sharon Anck said...

Oh my gosh, that collapsed house is quite a sight to see. Your story about the plumbing sounds so familiar. It always seems that one thing leads to another and then another. Last night I woke up in the middle of night and noticed that the furnace blower just kept blowing but without warm air. I shut if off and turned it back on thinking that would reset it but no, it just kept on. I'm leaving today to fly to Portland so I'll just shut it off and ask the landlord to send someone on Monday when I'm back. It's always something.

Vivian Swift said...

Today's photo of the bathroom showroom is sneaky! I looked at it for a while, thinking you were photographing the play of space and rectangles, as if it were a Kurt Schwitters collage in real life, when suddenly all those blue ducks popped into view and made me laugh -- they are perfectly placed, like a little musical note skipping through all those hard surfaces and straight lines. I love the humor. Great photo.

Catalyst said...

Plumbing problems. Ugh. What more can I say.

The Bug said...

Mike is very handy, but he hates messing with plumbing stuff. However, it would insult his manly pride if I tried to call a handyman. Ha!

I remember that fire!

jenny_o said...

Did the handyman say anything about putting some WD40 (or other lubricating oil) on the flat stopcock and letting it sit for a few days to see if it would loosen up? I don't know what your plumbing looks like in England but when something is stuck here that's what we usually do!

Plumbing advice from a person who also can't change a washer or set of taps. Hmmmmmm . . . but in my defense, I've watched my husband do all that and more :)

37paddington said...

So frustrating to finally get the handyman out there, and then have to scratch the mission. We had the same problem in one of our bathrooms, the plumber was unable to turn off the water, and eventually had to turn off water for the entire building in order to replace our faucets. Once the water was off, he forced the issue, and replaced the hookup so that the problem wouldn't recur. Sadly we now have many more renovations to contemplate, including painting the whole house. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

ellen abbott said...

my contractor just finished up the house down at the other end of the street today. Gunner says,'dad, I hear water.' a rusty pipe in one of the bathrooms decided to give way and he had to tear out the brand new textured and painted sheetrock to get to the leak. he may not be starting back at my house on Monday after all.

Red said...

Plumbing can be a bummer. It's simple but has some risks. as my plumbing advisor says pipes are only for running water.